Evening Sermon: What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ At The Resurrection?; Baptist Catechism 41; 1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Baptist Catechism 41

Q. 41. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

A. At the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity. (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Cor. 15:42,43; Matt. 10:32; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thess. 4:17)

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:35–49

“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”(1 Corinthians 15:35–49, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what the tree of life signified for Adam in the garden of Eden? We know what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil signified. That forbidden tree signified rebellion against God. God commanded Adam not to eat of it and threatened that in the day that he ate of it he would surely die. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would lead to death, and conversely, eating from the tree of life would bring life, just as the name implies. But wasn’t Adam already alive? Indeed he was! And not only was he alive, he was alive in paradise. He stood in right relation to God! What more could he ask for? 

Well, the presence of the tree of testing and the tree of life suggest that God had more for Adam. The one tree was a threat to him, but the other held forth the promise of life — presumably a higher form of life than at that time possessed should he pass the test that was before him by keeping the covenant of works.

As you know, Adam failed. He ate of the forbidden tree and entered immediately into the state of death, which is eternal separation from and enmity with God. Never did he eat of the tree of life, therefore. He was barred from that tree. God “drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24, ESV).

What was it that Adam forfeited? What kind of life was it that was offered to him through that tree of obedience? 

If the only scripture we had was Genesis 1-3 then I suppose we could only speculate. But the rest of scripture answers this question with great clarity. The tree of life held out to Adam the offer of life eternal; consummate life; spiritual life; life in glory. This is what the scriptures mean when they say, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In sin Adam, and all who are in him, fail to enter into this state of glory.

For the sake of time I will put it this way. If you wish to know the kind of life and the kind of body that Adam would have been given would he have abstained from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and eaten from the tree of life instead, then consider Christ in his resurrection.      

Christ, the second Adam, obeyed God. He earned the right to eat of that tree of life. And he did enter into the glory of the Father. His earthly body went into the grave, but from there it was raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. To use Paul’s metaphor, the body of Christ was, like a seed,  sown perishable but raised imperishable. It was sown in dishonor; it was raised in glory. Christ, the God man, died according to the flesh, but he was raised in the flesh never to die again. He completed the circuit that the first Adam failed to complete. 

But listen carefully to this: when Christ entered into glory, he entered as a forerunner. He entered into glory so that he might in due time bring others into glory also. As Paul says elsewhere: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:20–24, ESV).

Last week we learned that when the believer dies their body goes into the grave and their souls do immediately pass into glory. That will be a great blessing to pass into the presence of God himself. But this week we learn that that is not the end for the believer. Instead, at the resurrection — that is is to say, when Christ returns to bring everything to a conclusion — believers will be raised up in glory, openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity.”

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1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Some have wondered what kind of body we will have in the resurrection. As I have already said, the short answer is that our resurrection bodies will be like the one that Christ has. 

One, know that our resurrected bodies will be physical. Remember how Christ ate and drank in the presence of  his disciples to prove that he was not a phantom, but that he had been raised physically. 

Two, know that our resurrected bodies will correspond to the ones we have now. Though Christ looked different in some ways, he still had the marks in his hand and feet from the nails. Now, I am not saying that we will bear our scars for all eternity (maybe we will). Certainly the marks on Christ’s hands and feet serve a special purpose. They remain to function as an eternal memorial to the sacrifice that he made on our behalf. But the point is this, Jesus was recognizable. His resurrection body corresponds to the same body that was put in the grave nearly 2,000 years ago. And so it will be for all who have faith in Christ. 

And three, know that our resurrected  bodies will be spiritual, just as Christ’s body is spiritual. Now, that might seem like a contradiction to you. We tend to think of things as being either being physical or spiritual, but not both simultaneously. But this is exactly how Paul uses the term “spiritual” in that 1 Corinthains 15 passage that was read at the start of this sermon. In verse 44 he say that resurrection bodies are “sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.” So, in the resurrection we will have a body — a physical body like Christ’s physical body — but this physical body will be “spiritual”. What is meant by that? Paul means that our resurrected bodies will be glorified, perfected, empowered, and forever sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. This is what it means to be raised in glory. This is what it means to have life everlasting. 

Paul’s metaphor of the relationship between the body of a seed and the body of the plant that springs from that seed is brilliant. Both the seed and the plant are physical. Both bodies correspond to one another. The body of the plant that springs from the earth is more glorious than the body of the seed that was placed into the earth. But God has designed both the body of the seed and the body of the plant. And so is the relationship between our earthly bodies and the body that will be ours in the resurrection. The risen Christ is the forerunner, the firstfruits, the prototype. “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [Adam], we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven [Jesus]” (1 Corinthians 15:49).  

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Catechism Explained

This is precisely what our catechism teaches, among other things.

Q. 41. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

A. At the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity. 

Notice a few things about this answer. 

One, we are talking about believers here, and not those outside of Christ. Those outside of Christ will be our focus in the following question. 

Two, the language of glory is used here. Christ suffered in the flesh to bring many sons to glory, to quote Hebrews 2:10.

Three, notice the connection between the resurrection and the day of judgment. Again, “at the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment.” According to dispensational premillennialists there will be a long gap between the resurrection and the day of judgement, but the scriptures nowhere teach this. In fact, the scriptures teach that on the last day Christ will return to raise the day, to judge, and to usher in the new heavens and earth. There will be many things that happen on that last deay (including the resurrection), but this will be one event with many components, and not many isolated events spread over a long period of time. This is what Paul so clearly teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:22ff: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:22–24, ESV). The premillennial dispensationalists see gaps of time in the scriptures where there are no gaps of time to make room for what many have called Protestant version of purgatory. When Christ returns he will raise the dead, judge the world, and make all things new. 

Four, those in Christ will be “shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment.” Believers will be acknowledged as children of God, for they were adopted in Christ. And believers will be acquitted (a legal term), for they were justified through faith in Christ. What a terrible thought to be judged by God in Christ. But what a wonderful hope we have. We will not be judged, but will be openly acknowledged and acquitted instead, thanks be to God.

Five, believers will be made “perfectly blessed” at the resurrection. We will be blessed at the moment of death when our souls are brought into the presence of God. But at the resurrection we will be perfectly blessed. 

This is because, six, we will in that moment be glorified “both in soul and body” as whole persons. As I explained last week, those with faith in Christ will be blessed in soul when they die, but their bodies will go into the grave. For this time we will be blessed, but incomplete. At the resurrection we will be whole persons against,”made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body.”

Seven, notice that the thing that will make heaven heavenly is the “full enjoyment of God to all eternity.” Stated differently, God is the blessing. His presence is what makes heaven heavenly. King David knew this. And Christ knows this. Listen to Psalm 16:8-11: “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:8–11, ESV)

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Conclusion

Q. 41. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?

A. At the resurrection believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the Day of Judgment, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body, in full enjoyment of God to all eternity. (Phil. 3:20,21; 1 Cor. 15:42,43; Matt. 10:32; 1 John 3:2; 1 Thess. 4:17)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Evening Sermon: What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ At The Resurrection?; Baptist Catechism 41; 1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 2:1-7: I Urge That Prayers Be Made For All People

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 67 

“TO THE CHOIRMASTER: WITH STRINGED INSTRUMENTS. A PSALM. A SONG. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!” (Psalm 67, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–7, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Here at the beginning of chapter two, we have a shift in focus. In chapter one Paul commanded Timothy to do certain things as a minister of the word. But here in chapter two, Paul commands Timothy to see to it that the church does certain things. The church — the church in Ephesus where Timothy ministered, and every local church in every place and time — is to engage in certain activities. And what is the very first activity that Paul urges? He urges the church to pray. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…”, the apostle says. 

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The Church Is To Pray For All Kinds Of People

The church is to devote itself to prayer. And when we pray, we are to pray for all kinds of people. 

First of all, I urge…

In verse  1 we read the words, “first of all”. “First of all” can either mean first in a sequence or first in importance. Paul likely had both ideas in mind when he wrote the words, “first of all”. This was the first thing that he commanded the church to do because it is also of first importance. What is the church to do? What activities is she to engage in? First of all, the church must pray! 

Sadly, prayer is often of least importance to the individual Christian and to the church. Prayer is often the last thing that we do. It is often treated as a last resort. When everything else has failed, then we will pray. But prayer ought to be of first importance to us. It should be where we start, not where we end up when all else fails. This should be true of us personally. And this should also be true of us corporately. And that is why Paul urges prayer within the congregation. “First of all, then, I urge” that prayers be offered up, he says. To “urge” is to ask for something earnestly or to plead for something. Here Paul pleads with Timothy, with the church of Ephesus through him, and even with us, to be devoted to prayer. 

This should not surprise us. One of the characteristics of the people of God in every age is that they commune in prayer and intercede on behalf of the world. And concerning the New Covenant people of God, which is what we are, the prophet Isaiah said, “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:6–7, ESV.). If prayers were to be offered up in the temple under the Old Covenant, how much more in the New Covenant temple of God now that the blood of the Christ has been shed to make atonement for sins and to reconcile men to God? The church is the church of the living God. She is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church is a house of prayer for all people. It is no wonder, then, that this is the first thing the apostle urged. He urged that prayers be offered up to God within the church, for this is the church’s design.  

Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions, And Thanksgivings

Specifically, Paul urged “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made…” These terms all refer to prayer, but they each highlight a different aspect or kind of prayer. 

To supplicate is to make requests for the specific needs of others. To pray is to bring others before God to seek their blessing. To intercede is to appeal to God boldly on behalf of others. And with thanksgivings, we express gratitude to God for others and for the work that God is doing in them, through them, and for them. I suppose that Paul could have simply said, first of all, then, I urge you to pray… But by pilling up these terms he reminds us of the variety of ways that we can and should pray for others. We are to supplicate, praying for the specific needs of others. We are to pray for others generally, seeking the Lord’s blessing on their behalf. We are to intercede, appealing to God boldly on behalf of others. And we are also to bring our requests to God in the form of thanksgiving. The church is a house of prayer. The members are to devote themselves to private prayer. And when we assemble, we are to address God in prayer.  

Brothers and sisters, is prayer of first importance to you? Is it of first importance to us? Paul here urges us to pray. 

All Kinds Of People

And then he more specifically urges that these prayers be offered up “for all people.” What does Paul mean when he urges that prayers “be made for all people.” Clearly he means that prayers are to be offered up to God by the church for all kinds of people. 

Now, some might object to this by saying, the word “kind” is nowhere to be found in this passage. Or, “all” must mean “all” without exception or qualification! But is that true? Must “all” always mean “all” without exception or qualification? If I say to you “all” are invited to my house for lunch today it is clear that I do not mean all without exception. The whole world would not be invited, but only you. The context naturally clarifies what is meant by “all”. And such is the case with this passage. When Paul commands that prayers be offered up on behalf of “all people”, he means all types of people.  

First of all, it would be absurd for Paul to urge that prayers be offered up by the church in Ephesus for every individual person alive on planet earth without exception. They wouldn’t be able to do it if they tried. Not even close.

Secondly, it is not uncommon for Paul (or others) to use the word “all” to mean “all kinds” or to refer to all of a particular group. For example, in Romans 12:18 Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18, ESV). It is abundantly clear that when Paul uses the word “all” here he does not mean, be at peace with every person on the planet, but rather, be at peace with those that you come into contact with. And so no, “all” does not always mean “all without exception.” In fact, “all” often has reference to a particular group, class, or kind of people, and it is the context that makes the limitations clear. 

Thirdly, you will notice that the next verse does clarify what Paul means. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…” Verse 2: “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:2, ESV). 

For Kings And Those In High Positions

The church is not to limit its prayers to a certain kind or class of person but is to pray for all kinds of people, and that includes “kings and all who are in high positions.” The church is not to discriminate in its prayer life on the basis of ethnicity, class, age, gender, or any other thing that might divide us. The church is to pray indiscriminately for all kinds of people.

This might seem obvious to you. But human history shows that this is not obvious to all. In our sin, we discriminate against those not like us. In sin, we forget that we have humanity in common, which means that we share the image of God in common. The world is divided by so many things — ethnicity, gender, age, and class among them. But the Christian must not discriminate. For the Christian knows that all of these bear the image of God. And the Christian also knows that Christ died, not for a particular kind of person, but for all kinds of people. He died to redeem people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. He died for males and for females, for young and old, for rich and poor, for the strong and the weak. If God has not discriminated along these lines, then neither should we. Our “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” are to be made “for all people”, even “for kings and all who are in high positions.”

Now, why did Paul feel it necessary to specifically exhort the church in Ephesus to pray for this kind or class of person — “for kings and all who are in high positions.” Well, we should not forget that the early church was often persecuted by this kind or class of person. We should remember that most of the converts in the early church were not a part of this class. Paul’s words to the Corinthians make this clear: “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26–29, ESV). It is not at all hard to imagine why Paul would need to say this to the Ephesians. To put it into my own words its as if Paul said, “don’t discriminate in your prayers, brothers and sisters. Pray for all kinds of people, for Christ came to redeem all kinds of people. And yes, this even includes “kings and all who are in high positions.”

Though the church in this country has not experienced persecution from the governmental powers in the way that the early church did, there does still exist a division in this country between the political class and those who are citizens. And it is possible that Christians fall into the same trap. It is possible that we begin to view the political class, or members of a particular party within the political class as pure evil and irredeemable, and thus discriminate against them in our prayer life. This cannot be, brothers and sisters. We must pray for all kinds of people, for presidents, governors, and “all who are in high positions.” We must pray that they come to salvation and that the Lord would use them for good given the positions they hold within society. 

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he urged them to pray for all kinds of people and he specifically identified those with political power. Clearly, the Ephesians were falling short in this regard. Perhaps this was because of persecution. It may also have had something to do with the false teaching that was present within the church. Perhaps the false teaching lead to discrimination against certain kinds of people, but we can only speculate about this.    

Earlier I said that it might seem obvious to you that prayers are to be offered up for all kinds of people.  And perhaps it is obvious to you. But perhaps it is not so obvious. It is possible that you yourself have begun to discriminate in your prayer life. It is possible that, though you would never say it, you have begun to view a particular kind of person as being beyond the limits, irredeemable, and thus not worthy of prayer. In our context, the discrimination is typically racial, or socio economic. Brothers and sisters, it cannot be. We must offer up prayers for all kinds of people as we seek their good, and ultimately their salvation in Christ Jesus. 

There is one truth that is essential if we are to maintain this unbiased disposition towards all. And it is the truth that men and women are made in the image of God. There are no exceptions. You will never meet a human being who is not an image-bearer. All humans share this in common. We have the same Creator. We are made in his image. We have the same blood running through our veins. We have equal dignity and worth, therefore. This is what unites us. And this unity is profound. 

But within the unity that is humanity, there is also diversity. The human race is diverse. And the diversity is beautiful. It is not to be denied but appreciated. The human race is made up of many individuals, each with their own personality. Some are male and some are female. Some are rich and some are poor. Some are powerful, others are weak. Each person has their own unique history. Each one differs in appearance and ability. The diversity is not to be despised but celebrated. When we consider the unity of humanity and the simultaneous diversity of humanity we are to see something beautiful, for this unity in diversity images God who is eternally one and three.

But as you know, throughout the history of the world sinful man has not considered the unity and diversity within humanity to be beautiful. Instead, many have warred against the image of the Triune God in humanity by either trying to obliterate what distinguishes, us or by doing violence to what unifies us. 

This problem will never go away (not until Christ returns to make all things). It will simply manifest itself in different ways. Sinful humans will always war against the diversity in humanity. Today, many wish to deny the difference between males and females, for example. And perhaps this movement is in response to fact that others have done violence to the unity of men and women. Both are image bearers and stand before as equals, but men have often oppressed women, and women do sometimes oppress men. Neither those who deny the differences nor those who do violence to the unity are right. Both fail to appreciate the beauty of the image of the Triune God in humanity. And the same may be said of matters of race or ethnicity. Some wish to obliterate the differences (which is sad — something beautiful is lost when we do), and others do violence to the unity (and this is tragically unjust when men of power oppress men of weakness on the basis of the color of their skin, forgetting that all have the same Creator and bear his image). As I have said, this problem will not go away until Christ returns. The problem may increase and decrease. And it will certainly manifest itself in different ways. But fallen humanity will always war against God, his design in creation, and his image in humanity.

But there is one place where we should expect this perennial problem to melt away, and that is within Christ’s church. The church is the present and earthly manifestation of the kingdom of God, and the inbreaking of the age to come into this present evil age. In the church, the diversity that exists within humanity must never be denied. The diversity must be celebrated in Christ. How marvelous and beautiful it is to consider humanity as individual persons, each with unique personalities, histories, experiences, and gifts. How beautiful it is to consider the differences between male and female, and the distinguishing characteristics of the cultures and customs of the people of this earth. You have heard the expression that variety is the spice of life, haven’t you? Well, it applies here, doesn’t it? The diversity that exists within humanity is to be appreciated and enjoyed. But never is it to lead to division, devaluation, or the oppression of others. For we share the image of God in common with the rest of humanity. And more than this, those in Christ share Christ in common. The image has been renewed in us through faith in him. Indeed, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, ESV).

This discussion concerning the diversity and unity that exists within the human race may have felt like a giant tangent to you. But I hope you can see how it pertains. If we are to pray for all kinds of people, as the apostle commands, then we must appreciate the diversity in humanity while never losing sight of our fundamental unity.  

That We Might Lead A Quiet And Peaceful Life

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [yes, even] for kings and all who are in high positions…” And then Paul adds, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

One of the reasons that we are to pray for those with civil authority is so that we might live a peaceful and quiet life. We are to remember the civil authorities have been appointed by God for the preservation of peace through the promotion of justice. The civil authorities exist to punish the wrongdoer, and particularly those who do violence to others. When we pray for those who have civil authority we are to pray, not only for their salvation, therefore, but also that they would do the job that God has given them to do in the civil realm, leading to a peaceful and quiet life for those who live in their jurisdiction. The government’s job is to protect its citizens from harm. They are to protect their citizens from the harm of foreign powers. And they are also to protect their citizens from the harm of other citizens by upholding justice. The Christians in Ephesus lived under the threat of persecution from these governing authorities. And so this gave them all the more reason to pray for them. 

They were to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions that [they] may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” And this is how Christians are always to live within the world. They are to live godly lives. This means that they are to live lives of holiness before God and man. They are to live a pious life of obedience. They are to be dignified, living in a way that is fitting for a child of God. 

Perhaps you have noticed how tempting it is to respond to government overreach and oppression by ranting and raving against those with authority. It is tempting to speak evil against those who abuse their power. But this is not the way of Christ. The Christian is to behave in a godly and dignified way even in the face of persecution. And so where is the Christian to go with his frustrations and fears? First, he is to go to prayer. He is to pray for presidents, senators, and governors. And having prayed, he is to “live a godly and dignified” life as he entrusts himself to God who is sovereign overall. 

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 

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God Desires That All Kinds Of People Be Saved

After this Paul says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

“This is good”, Paul says. 

What is good? you ask.

Well, it is good that prayers be offered up for all kinds of people. 

And why is this “good”? 

It is good because it corresponds to God’s desire for all kinds of people to be saved. 

By the way, a thing can only be called “good” when it corresponds to God and to his will. Things are good and beautiful and lovely only when they correspond to God and fulfill his design for the thing, whatever it may be. 

And Paul is here saying that prayers offered up for all people are good because they correspond with God’s will. He “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

You will notice that God is here called “God our Savior”. We are accustomed to calling Jesus Christ our Savior. Rarely do we refer to God as our Savior, but he certainly is! God has saved us through his Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV).

A Contradiction With The Doctrine Of Predestination?

There are some who claim that this passage contradicts the doctrine of election or predestination. The doctrine of predestination teaches that it is God’s will to save some. If you believe the Bible, then you must believe the doctrine of predestination. It is not some obscure doctrine. No, it is clearly taught in many passages, one of them being Ephesians 1:3-6. There Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3–6, ESV). So there are many passages which teach that God has determined to save some, but this passage says that “God our Savior… desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Is God conflicted within himself? Did he, on the one hand, determine to save some and send the Son to atone for their sins, and on the other hand, wish that all would be saved? No! It is absurd to speak of God in this way. God cannot be conflicted within himself, and neither can contradictions be found in his word. 

The solution is simple. This passage is simply teaching that God’s will is for all kinds of people to be saved. The context makes this abundantly clear. The reasoning of the apostle is very tight. Prayers are to be offered up on behalf of all kinds of people, even for kings and those in high positions. This is good and pleasing to God our Savior because his will is that all kinds of people be saved. And as we will see, if they are to be saved, they must be saved through faith in Jesus the Christ, for he is the only mediator between God and man. 

As I have said, the reasoning of the apostle is very tight. There is to be no discrimination in our prayer life. We are to pray for all people. Why? Because “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” God did not set his love on the Jews only, nor on the pour only, nor on the weak only — no, he set his love on all kinds of people. And Christ came to redeem all kinds of people. Christ commissioned the church to make disciples of all nations. The Spirit of God was poured out on all flesh. And in the new heavens and earth, there will be people from every tongue, tribe, and nation standing before the throne of grace.  

Stated differently, God’s will for the church is that she prays. And the prayer life of the church is to correspond to God’s redemptive purpose. We are to pray for all people, for God’s will is to save all people. And this he will certainly do (for God’s will cannot be frustrated), through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man.   

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Though There Are Many Kinds Of People, There Is Only One Mediator, Christ The Lord!

And that brings us to the final point. Though there are many kinds of people in the world, there is only one mediator between God and man, Christ the Lord. 

Verse 5:“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:5–7, ESV).

Do not forget that in the ancient world — the world in which Paul lived —  the predominant belief was that there were many gods. Each nation had its gods. The Romans had theirs. But the Christian claim is that there is only one God. He is the Creator of all things seen and unseen. He is the God, not only of the Jews, but also the Romans. Indeed, he is the God of all nations, even if they do not recognize him as such. All other so-called gods are not god’s at all, but are the idols of men. 

All humanity shares this in common, therefore. They come from one God, and they are made in his image. And they also share the same problem. All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. They are alienated from him and are under his wrath, therefore. But God is gracious. He has provided a Savior. And notice, he has not provided many saviors — one for this tribe or nation, and another for that tribe or nation. He has provided one Savior for all the fallen children of Adam. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

A mediator is a go-between. A mediator is a middle man whose job it is to reconcile (or bring together) parties who are at odds. In this case it is God who is at odds with all humanity. And the mediator is the man Jesus Christ. He was brought into the world through but there is only one mediator. The only way to be reconciled (or made right) with God is through faith in him.  

Notice that Paul says Christ “gave himself as a ransom for all”. Again, if “all” means all without exception then we have a contradiction in the scriptures, for elsewhere the scriptures teach that Christ laid down his life for the church and not for the world, for the sheep and not goats. And when Christ instituted the supper, “he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:27–28, ESV). Christ shed his blood for “many” but not all. Why then does Paul say that Christ “gave himself as a ransom for all.” The message is clear. There is only one God. And there is only one mediator between God and man, Christ the Lord. And Christ gave himself up at just the right time, and this he did, not for the Jews only, but for all nations. He died for all the peoples of the earth so that he might redeem, not only the children of Abraham, but the children of Adam too. 

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Conclusion

In the new heavens and earth there will be a new humanity washed in the blood of the lamp. This new humanity will be perfectly unified in Christ, but it will be diverse — a true reflection of our great God who is one and three.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 2:1-7: I Urge That Prayers Be Made For All People

Evening Sermon: What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ At Death?, Baptist Catechism 40, Philippians 1:18-26

Baptist Catechism 40

Q. 40. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

A. The souls of believers are at death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory, and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection. (Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 23:43; 1 Thess 4:14; Is. 57:2; Job 19:26)

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:18-26

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.” (Philippians 1:18–26, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

For many weeks now we have been answering the question, “What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?” That is Baptist Catechism number 35. In the following questions and answers, we learned that in this life believers are justified, adopted, and sanctified and that many other benefits accompany or flow from these.

But here with question 40, we turn our attention to the moment of death. And you will notice that in question 41 we fix our minds on the resurrection, which will happen when Christ returns to make all things new. In these questions, we learn that there are benefits that come to the believer, not only in this life but also at the moment of death and at the resurrection.
I suppose there are some who think that the benefits that Christ has earned for us will only come to us in the future, at the moment of death, and for all eternity. They are wrong because they ignore the many blessings that are ours now and in this life which we have previously considered. Our salvation is not only future, it is ours presently.

But there are others, I am sure, who think only of the benefits that are ours now and fail to consider the blessings that will come to us in the future at the moment of our death and for all eternity. These fixate upon the Lord’s provision now, his sanctifying work, etc. But they forget that Christ came to ultimately save us from sin, from the curse of death, and to bring us safely to our eternal home in the new heavens and earth, where we will enjoy the presence of God forever and ever. .

So let us be sure that we do not make the one mistake or the other. Let us be sure to recognize that in Christ we are blessed in this life, in death, and for the life to come.

Perhaps you have noticed that people do not like to think or talk about death. Death is certainly an unpleasant topic even for the believer. Death is, in some respects, unnatural. We were not originally created to die, but to live forever in the presence of God. But our parents fell into sin. And the wages of sin is death — spiritual death, which is alienation from God, and physical death. So death is unnatural to us. It is a curse. It is a perversion of how things were designed in the beginning. It is no wonder, then, that we mourn death. It is a sorrow to us. The human spirit quite naturally is troubled by death. And this is true for the believer and the non-believer alike. Both mourn death. Even our Savior mourned the death of his dear friend Lazarus. Jesus wept, remember.

But the Christian’s perspective is different (or at least it should be). Though death is sorrowful even for the Christian, its sting has been removed. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57, ESV). When the one who has faith in Christ dies, they pass from life to life. The pass from this world and into the presence of God. They are transferred from a state of grace to a state of glory. Death is a promotion for the believer. Death brings about perfection. Now, I am not saying that we should rejoice over the death of a believer, and not grieve. No, death will always involve sorrow, for by it we are separated from those we love for a time. And by it the body is unnaturally separated from the soul, as we will learn. And by it, we are reminded of the curse of sin. Death will always involve sorrow, but for the Christian, it cannot produce despair, for Christ has defeated sin and death, and in him we have life everlasting.

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Philippians 1:18-26

And this is why Paul could speak in the way that he did concerning the thought of his own death in Philippians 1:18 and following. Did you hear him? He said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What does that mean? It means that if he goes on living in this world, it will be for the service of Christ, but to die would be in some respects better, for then he would come into God and Christ’s presence, and the troubles of this world would pass away. And in this passage, he weighs out the benefits. “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Of course, Paul knew that whether he lived or died was not up to him. The moment and circumstances of our death, like the moment and circumstances of our birth, is to be left to God. But as he considered the possibility of death, he was not overwhelmed with fear and dread as so many are. No, there was a sense in which he was eager for it so that he might come into the presence of the Lord.

Now, what I have just said can be terribly misunderstood, and so I feel compelled to make two qualifications. One, I am not claiming that Pual was without any fear regarding death. It is quite natural and good to fear death, that is to say, to fear the process of dying. This natural fear of death should help us to live according to wisdom. Though Christians do not fear death ultimately because Christ has overcome it, neither are they to use this courage to live reckless and irresponsible lives in this world. Two, you will notice that Paul’s eagerness to pass from this world and to go into the presence of God and Christ was balanced by his desire to remain on earth so that he might serve Christ and be used for the furtherance of his kingdom. And this is a balance that every Christain must maintain. Yes, on the one hand, I am eager to be with the Lord. But on the other hand, I am eager to remain here so that I might be used of the Lord. This should be our disposition as we wait patiently for the Lord’s will to be accomplished in and through our lives.

But as I have said, Paul was able to speak so positively of death because he knew — he really knew and believed in his heart — that Christ defeated death. The sting of death has been removed by Christ. Those with faith in Christ will not be cursed but blessed in the moment of the moment of death.

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Catechism Explained

Let us take a moment to work through our catechism piece by piece.

First, we say, “The souls of believers…” Human beings are made up of body and soul. You have a body and you have a soul. The soul is the non-material part of man. You cannot take a picture of the soul, but you know it exists. The soul is where the personality resides. The soul is where our affections reside. And here is one way in which we are like God. God is a most pure spirit, and we have a spirit or a soul. We differ from God in that he is a pure spirit, whereas we are made up of body and spirit, or body and soul.

And do not forget that we are speaking of believers here. In question 42 we will ask, “what shall be done to the wicked at their death?” But for now, we are talking about what happens to believers at death.

Secondly, we say “The souls of believers are at death made perfect in holiness…” So death does not corrupt the soul of the one who has faith in Christ but brings it to perfection. In this life, we do still struggle with sin. That process of sanctification will continue till the end. But at the moment of death the one who has faith will pass from a state of grace wherein corruptions remain, into the state of glory wherein the souls of the righteous are made perfect.

And this is what our catechism says thirdly: “…and do immediately pass into glory”. To pass into glory is to be perfectly and immutably able to do good alone. And to pass into glory is to come into the presence of God himself personally. Remember what I said earlier. The soul is where the personality resides. In this sense, you are immortal. Your body will die, but your soul will live forever and ever. This is true for the believer and for the non-believer, as we will see. But their destinies could not be more different.

And then fourthly we say, “and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.” You are immortal, as I have said. But you will for a time be incomplete (unless you are alive when the Lord returns). When the believer passes from this world the soul and the body are separated in an unnatural way. The soul goes to glory, but the body returns to the earth from which it was created. You will be you, but you will be incomplete until that day when Christ returns and resurrects the body. True. To “be away from the body [is to be] at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8, ESV), but it is to be incomplete. To be human is to have body and soul. But at the moment of death, the soul is separated from the body.

We will speak more about the resurrection of the body next week. For now, let us consider this little phrase “and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.” What is meant by the phrase, “being still united to Christ”? It means that Christ has redeemed us as whole persons and that he will not abandon any part of us, but will bring us whole into the new heavens and earth. In that time after death and before the resurrection, Christ guards those who belong to him. The souls go to glory and their bodies go to the grave, but we are united to Christ, body and soul, as whole persons.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 and following speaks to this, saying, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this,we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:14–16, ESV).

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Conclusion

Brethren, know for sure that when you die in Christ you will pass from life to life.

And know for sure that when you die you will come immediately into the presence of God and Christ. As I have said, your personality resides in the soul. And so you will come personally into the presence of God.

And know for sure that when you die in Christ you will pass from grace to glory. In this state of grace corruptions remain and we do struggle with sin. But in glory our souls will be made perfect in holiness. No wonder Paul longed for that day, as should we.

Q. 40. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

A. The souls of believers are at death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory, and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection. (Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8; Luke 23:43; 1 Thess 4:14; Is. 57:2; Job 19:26)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Evening Sermon: What Benefits Do Believers Receive From Christ At Death?, Baptist Catechism 40, Philippians 1:18-26

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 1:18-20: Wage The Good Warfare

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 19:7–14

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:7–14, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 1:18-20

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:18–20, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

In the introductory sermon to this series I raised the question, why should Christians who are not Pastors be concerned about what Paul says to Timothy, his co-worker in gospel ministry? This is a valid question, I think. Paul wrote this letter, not only to a Christian brother, but to a minister. As a result, much of what Paul says to Timothy has direct application to ministers of the gospel serving with the local church today. But from the start, I wished to convince you that this letter does apply to all Christians, either directly or indirectly.  

Indeed, many things are said in this letter that apply, not only to pastors but to all Christians. And even in those portions that apply most directly to pastors, we do find indirect application for the people of God. For example, what Paul says to Timothy his co-worker does help every believer to understand God’s will for the church. What is the nature of the church? What is she to be like? Paul’s instructions to Timothy are very revealing. Also, we might ask what is God’s will for pastors?  What should we expect from them? What is their work? 

Now obviously pastors should be concerned with the question, what is God’s will for pastors? It would be foolish, and even dangerous, to enter into ministry without a basic understanding of the answer to that question. But I hope you would agree that every member of every Christian congregation should also be concerned to know God’s will for pastors. Every member ought to know what they should expect from their pastors and elders. And this knowledge becomes particularly important when it comes time to appoint men to the office of pastor. What are the qualifications? What does the job demand? Do you know?

By asking these questions I am implying that the scriptures have something to say about this. And they most certainly do! The scriptures have not left the nature of the church nor the job of ministers undefined. On the contrary, when we pay close attention to what the New Testament says, and particularly to Paul’s letters to his co-workers, we  an see clearly what the work of the ministry entails.   

So far in this letter, we have learned that the work of the ministry entails promoting sound doctrine within Christ’s church. This is accomplished both positively and negatively. Positively, sound doctrine must be taught. And negatively, false doctrine must be opposed. Sound doctrine brings life and peace. False doctrine leads only to lifeless speculation and division. True doctrine must be promoted within Christ’s church if she is to flourish. The whole church is to see to it that this happens, but it is the particular responsibility of the minister.  

In the passage that is before us today, we learn more about the work of the ministry. Here we learn that to enter the ministry one must be called, that those called must be prepared to engage in warfare, and that this spiritual warfare must be conducted in faith and with a good conscience.  

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 To Enter The Ministry One Must Be Called

First, please recognize that to enter the ministry one must be called. The word “called” is not found in this passage, but this is what Paul describes. He reminds Timothy of his calling when he says, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…” (1 Timothy 1:18, ESV)

Charge

The words “this charge” refer back to the charge that began in verse 3. A “charge” is an order or command. Paul began to order or command Timothy to do certain things as a minister of the gospel in verse 3. He then inserted his testimony (to make a point, if you remember). And now Paul resumes his charge to Timothy, saying, “This charge I entrust to you…” 

Entrust

Christ himself entrusted the work of the ministry to Paul the apostle, then Paul entrusted the work of the ministry to Timothy, and Timothy was to do the same with others. In 2 Timothy 2:2 we read, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” And so we see a pattern. The work of the ministry is to be entrusted to faithful men from generation to generation. Elders have a particular responsibility to be sure this happens, but it is to be the concern of the whole congregation, generally speaking. The work of the ministry is to be passed along from minister to minister.

My Child

You will notice that Paul again refers to Timothy as “my child”. Not only is this a term of endearment. And not only does it indicate that Paul was older than Timothy. More than this, it reveals that Paul was Timothy’s spiritual father. It may be that Paul led Timothy to the faith personally, or that those who lead Timothy to the faith were first led to the faith by Paul. Certainly, it means that Paul mentored Timothy in the faith. Timothy was Paul’s child, spiritually speaking. And here we see that ministers of the gospel should aim to pass along a spiritual heritage to others. 

“In accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…” 

And then we find this phrase: “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…” The meaning is this: Paul’s charge to Timothy aligns with or corresponds to, the prophecies previously made about him.

What were these prophecies? Well, we do not have a record of the details, but clearly they were prophecies pertaining to Timothy’s call to the ministry in general, or his call to be a co-worker of Paul’s in particular. Though we do not have a record of these prophecies concerning Timothy, we do have record of similar prophetic activity within the early church. 

In the days of the early church, there were prophets who ministered alongside the apostles who spoke God’s word under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There are neither apostles or prophets in the church today. Their ministry was foundational and not perpetual (Ephesians 2:20). But there were certainly prophets ministering at the start of the New Covenant era, just as there were prophets who ministered under the Old Covenant.   

You might remember how in Acts 21:11 Agabus the prophet came from Judea to Caesarea and “he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, ‘Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles’’” (Acts 21:11, ESV). Agabus was a true prophet, for that is indeed what transpired.

But this prophecy that was made concerning Timothy was probably more like another prophecy recorded in Acts concerning the ministry of Paul (also called Saul) and Barnabus. In Acts 13:1 we read, “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas… Saul [and others]. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus” (Acts 13:1–4, ESV). Though we do not have a record of the details, we are to understand that similar prophecies were made concerning Timothy. Like Paul, Timothy was called to the ministry by God and through the church.

I will say a little bit more about how God calls ministers today in a moment. But for now, consider the effect that this reminder from Paul concerning the “prophecies previously made” would have had on Timothy? Perhaps Timothy was discouraged at this moment. Perhaps he was fearful. What a tremendous encouragement this would have been to be reminded of his calling. It as if Paul said, don’t forget your calling, Timothy. It was God who called you to this work, and he did so through the church. Take courage, therefore, and persevere. 

Though it is true that apostles and prophets do not dwell amongst us, God does still set men apart for the work of the ministry in much the same way as Paul, Barnabus, and Timothy were set apart. He calls ministers of the word inwardly and outwardly. That is, he calls them to his service subjectively and objectively

When I say that ministers are called subjectively, I mean that a minister must be called inwardly and in the heart, if you will. He must sense God’s call upon his life and desire the work so that he may, to quote Peter, “shepherd the flock of God… exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have [him]; not for shameful gain, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:2, ESV). Concerning the desire for ministry, Paul begins his list of qualifications for the office of overseer, or elder, by saying, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Timothy 3:1, ESV). It is not wrong to desire to serve as an elder within Christ’s church. On the contrary, it is good for someone to desire to hold this office. In fact, one should not enter the ministry if he does not desire it, for then he would be doing what Peter forbids — he would serve, not willingly, but only because he feels obligated, or for selfish gain.

The inward and subjective call is essential, but so too is the outward and objective call. And here I am referring to the call of God that comes to a man through the church. The inward call is applied to the man’s heart by the Spirit. It is called subjective because it is perceived by the man through feelings. But the outward call is applied to the man by the Spirit through the church. It is called objective because this call is not based upon the feelings of the man, but upon the undeniable fact that the church has determined that the man is fit to hold the office of overseer, and they have agreed that the Spirit has indeed called him to the work. 

Here in our passage for today ,Paul reminds Timothy, not of the internal and subjective call, but the external and objective call. Prophecies were uttered concerning him. And presumably the church did with Timothy what they did with Paul and Barnabus before him — they fasted and prayed and laid their hands on him to set him apart for this work. And why do you think Paul reminded Timothy of this external and objective call, as opposed to the internal and subjective call. I hope the answer is clear to you. Our emotions and desires often change with the circumstances of life. I would imagine that Timothy often felt like persevering in the ministry. But sometimes he probably felt like quitting. And in those moments when he felt like quitting, he would benefit most from bringing to mind the external call, and not the internal —  the objective rather than the subjective. He would be most encouraged by remembering the feeling of the hands of those who ordained him on his shoulders and to remember the words that they spoke. We are to see here that the Spirit of God works powerfully to set men apart for Christian ministry. And this he does by calling the man inwardly and externally, subjectively and objectively. Both are crucial. No man should be ordained to the gospel ministry if he is lacking either of these. 

As I was considering all of this I started to think, I wonder who the Lord will call from amongst us to serve as a minister of the gospel either here at Emmaus or to take a call elsewhere? It may be that the Lord would rise up one of our young men to enter the ministry. I know that I began to sense a call to the ministry when I was 16 or 17 years old. That internal and subjective call was confirmed by the church externally and objectively when I was in my early 20’s. I would say that it was confirmed even more powerfully when we planted Emmaus when I was 30. It was good for me to reflect a bit on all of that this past week and to also think, I wonder if the Lord is doing a similar work with a young man who has been brought up in this church? We should pray that he would, brothers and sisters. 

Or perhaps the Lord would call someone to serve as pastor who is more advanced in years? This also would be a great blessing! But how will we know? Well, to put it simply, the man will feel called and the congregation will recognize that he is called — the current officers and members will come to see that the man possesses the gifts and meets the scriptural qualifications to hold this office within Christ’s church.     

And that brings me back to something I said in the introduction. Every member of every church should be very much concerned to know what God expects from pastors. What qualifications does the man have to meet? What gifts must he possess? What does the job entail?  It should not be difficult to imagine what a blessing a good minister of the gospel will be to the church, and what a curse a bad minister would be. Though current pastors play a significant role in identifying and appointing future pastors, ultimately it is the decision of the whole church. The whole church must agree that the man is fitted and called to the ministry. And only then may the elders lay their hands on the man and appoint him to the office of overseer. You are not passive spectators in the ordination process, but active participants. The Spirit of God will work through you to call men to his service. Are you ready? Do you know what God’s word says concerning the qualifications of ministers? 

 To enter the ministry one must be called.

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 Those Called Must Be Prepared To Engage In Warfare

Secondly, those called must be prepared to engage in warfare. This is what Paul says at the end of verse 18: “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18, ESV). The words, “that by them” indicate that this is what fulfilling his ministry will entail. Timothy will have to engage in warfare. 

This might sound strange to someone unfamiliar with the demands of ministry. In fact, I would imagine that the vast majority of those who go into the ministry, go in underestimating the warfare they will face. 

The reasons for this are many. Two come to mind. 

One, some are raised in church traditions where ministers of the gospel do not engage in warfare, but pursue a life of ease. My wife was raised in a different church tradition, and she remembers visiting the pastor with her father and would find him with his feet up on his desk reading the newspaper. That image is burned in her memory. Now, perhaps the man was hard working. Maybe the timing was just bad. But that was her impression of Christian ministry. I can tell you, that is no longer her view. 

Two, it really is difficult for those not in ministry to gain a clear view of what ministry actually entails. I suppose the exception would be if the church offers a robust internship program. But even then, it would be difficult to expose a man to the demands of ministry prior to him actually going into the ministry (I suppose the same is true of most professions). When do most people see their pastors? On Sundays. And what do most people see pastors do? Preach and pray. I can tell you, brothers and sisters, writing sermons and delivering them is light and enjoyable work. I don’t lose sleep at night over sermons. Preaching may be the most important thing I do, but it is not the most burdensome. The Christian ministry involves far more than preaching on the Lord’s Day. Many years ago a young man asked me the question, so what do you do all week? He was so sincere. He really wanted to know. I suppose he thought that I played lots of golf. 

Brothers and sisters, ministry is warfare. If you feel called to the ministry, you need to reckon with this fact before you go in. And as a member of Christ’s church, you need to pray for your ministers that they would “wage the good warfare”, and that the Lord would sustain them as they fight the good fight. You ought to pray for those of us who are devoted to full-time ministry, but also for those men who serve as elders while working in the secular realm. Not only are they bearing the burdens of work and home life, but of the church as well! And the burdens are often heavy. 

I am reminded of that passage in 2 Corinthains 11 where Paul recounts his sufferings as a minister of the gospel. He listed his imprisonments, the beatings he endured, along with shipwrecks, hunger and thirst, among other things. But at the end he added this: “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28, ESV). A long time ago I remember thinking, how strange that Paul would list this among imprisonments, beatings, shipwrecks and the like. But I understand him now. Ministers of the gospel will, if they are indeed waging the good warfare and not skating by, will be burdened with a deep concern for the church. 

I say all of this to you not so that you might feel sorry for me or for us. We are happy to do what we are doing. We are truly blessed to serve the church in this way. I share this with you so that you might pray for your ministers, and when it comes time to appoint new ministers you might know what the job actually entails. It is warfare. Furthermore, if you sense a call to the ministry you need to have some idea of what you are getting yourself into. If you are called and fitted, you will happily take up the work. But if you are not called and fitted, I fear that you will languish under the burden.    

Before we move on to point three I should probably say a word about the nature of this warfare. 

What kind of warfare is it? Well, clearly it is spiritual warfare. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4, ESV).

And who is the enemy that misters fight against? Well, ultimately the enemy is Satan and his kingdom. You will notice that both he and his realm are mentioned in verse 20. But the fight is not with him only, or with him directly. Rather, this fight against the Evil One manifests itself in many ways.

To put the matter succinctly, the Christian minister must wage war against falsehood. He must preserve and promote the truth. And the minister must wage war against sin — both the sin of others within Christ’s church, and also his own. Stated differently, the minister must come alongside those entrusted to his care to help them in their fight against sin, all the while fighting against sin of his own. 

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  This Warfare Must Be Conducted In Faith And With A Good Conscience

And this leads us quite naturally to the third point. To enter the ministry one must be called. Those called to the ministry must be prepared to engage in warfare.  And finally, this warfare must be conducted in faith and with a good conscience. “Wage the good warfare”, Paul says, “ holding faith and a good conscience.” In other words, this is what the minister is to bring to the fight — he is to come equipped with faith and a good conscience

Faith

Here “faith” refers to personal faith and trust in God, in Christ, and the truth of his gospel. How will a minister help others to grow in their faith if he himself is weak in faith? And how will he possibly persevere in warfare unless his faith is strong? 

Good Conscience

And when Paul commands Timothy to maintain a good conscience he means that his conscience is to be kept clear. This means that ministers are to be sure that they themselves are walking in a worthy manner, and not in sin. When a minster sins (which all do) he is to quickly repent before God and man. Some sins are of a disqualifying nature. Other sins are not. But a minister but be sure to keep his conscience clear. He must live a holy life. And when he fails, he must repent truly and sincerely. A minister who knows what it is to sin against God and others and to repent truly will be well equipped to compassionately help others to do the same. But a minister who lives in sin, or who sins and does not have the humility to repent, will only bring harm to those who are under his care.  

 So what does the work of the ministry entail? Well, there are many tasks. But one task that must not be neglected by the minister is the task of keeping one’s faith strong and conscience clear. The conscience is kept good and clear when we walk in obedience to the commands of God. Paul will return to this idea later in this letter, saying, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16, ESV). This is not a pure repetition of what Paul says here, but the idea is similar. Ministers must not only be concerned for others, but they must first keep watch on themselves to be sure that their conduct is pure. Also, they must devote themselves to teaching the faith that they themselves believe.  

Shipwreck 

Paul warns that those who fail to hold to the faith and keep their conscience clear will make a shipwreck of their faith. Verse 19: “By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…”, he says. 

Paul knew all about shipwrecks. He knew what it felt like to be tossed uncontrollably to and fro by the wind and the waves. He knew what it was to be driven ashore and to watch the ship be broken apart by the relentless pounding of the surf. What a terrible experience, and what an awful sight that must be. And yet this is the term that Paul uses to describe the course of the false teacher who fails to hold to the faith and to keep his conscience pure — it leads to shipwreck, to the total destruction and  breaking apart of one’s faith and life. 

How sad it is to watch a professing Christian, and particularly a minister of the gospel, make a shipwreck of their faith. It is an awful sight. It takes your breath away when you see it. It leaves you with a pit in your stomach. And I have seen it. I have watched men with good and sound doctrine make shipwreck of their faith because they failed to keep a good conscience before God. Paul warns Timothy  to beware of the reefs of unbelief and immorality. Ministers must stay the course. They must keep the wind in the sails, and steer clear of temptation, lest they be driven ashore and broken to pieces.   

Hymenaeus And Alexander

You will notice that this text concludes with a reference to two well-known figures who made shipwreck of their faith, Hymenaeus and Alexander. These were teachers in the church who went off course and were wrecked as a result. 

Paul mentions Hymenaeus again in 2 Timothy 2:16ff, saying, “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity’” (2 Timothy 2:16–19, ESV). So we know that Hymenaeus erred in his teaching, saying that the resurrection has already happened. And we know that this was accompanied by ungodliness. And it may be the same Alexander who is mentioned again in 2 Timothy 4:14, where Paul says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2 Timothy 4:14, ESV).

Here in our text these two are set forth as an example of teachers in the church who failed to hold on to “faith and a good conscience” and made a shipwreck of their faith. Paul adds that he handed these “over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20, ESV). To be handed over Satan is to be put out of the church, which is the kingdom of Christ, and to be banished to the world, which is the domain of Satan. And the objective, you will notice, is that those who are put out would come to repentance. In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, these needed to learn not to blaspheme. 

In reminding Timothy of Hymenaeus and Alexander Paul was encouraging Timothy, one, not to go the way that they went, but to keep his faith and his way of life pure. And two, Paul was reminding Timothy of what must be done with those who persist in false teaching or in sin — they must be, to quote now from 1 Corinthians 5:5, handed over to “Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that [their] spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5, ESV). You will notice that in both 1 Timothy 1:20 and 1 Corinthains 5:5 the stated purpose of putting the person out of the church and thereby banishing them to the realm of the Evil One, is so they might turn from their sin for the salvation of their soul. And the same can be said regarding that famous church discipline passage in Matthew 18. The goal is to gain the brother who is sinning.

One very concerning thing about the modern church is that very few churches do the hard work of church discipline. In the early days of the Reformation the reformers wrestled with the question, how do we identify a true church? That was an important question because having broken away from Rome and the hierarchy of priests, bishops, and the Pope people were left wondering, where is the true church to be found if not in this organization? In general, the reformers — and particularly the later reformers —  taught that a true church is not true because they are under the hierarchy of Rome, but because the word is faithfully preached there, the sacraments are rightly administered, and — get this — the church is disciplined. I think it is right to identify “discipline” as the third mark of a true church. The New Testaments scripture speaks clearly about discipline. The church is to be kept pure. False teaching and sin is to be addressed within the church. Both members and ministers must do their part. There is formative church disciple wherein we naturally exhort and encourage one another to believe what is true and to walk in a manner that is worthy. And there is also formal discipline which may involve public admonition, suspension from the Lord’s Table, and even excommunication, which is what Paul describes here when he speaks of handing these two over to Satan. But pay very careful attention to this, brothers and sisters. The motive is love, and the goal is always repentance and restoration. The motive is love. Why should we trouble ourselves with church discipline? Because we love God and one another. And the goal is not to drive away, but to restore through repentance. And so we must be faithful to do what the scriptures call us to do, trusting that the Lord is able to use even excommunication to bring an erroring brother or sister to their senses. It is not difficult to understand how this might work. A brother or sister may be presuming upon the grace of God but only come to see their error of their way once they are put out of the church and barred from the ministry of the word, participation at the Lord’s Table, and from the sweet fellowship that is enjoyed within Christ’s church.

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Conclusion

There are so many applications to be drawn from this text.  

If you are in the ministry now serving as an elder within Christ church, then you have much to think about. 

And the same is true for those who feel called to the ministry — you also have much to think about. How important it is for you to consider the scriptures carefully so that you might know what the qualifications and responsibilities of ministers are.

And church members must also know. They must know so that they can pray for their ministers and also know what to look for when it comes time to appoint others to this office. 

But even beyond this, much of what has been said today concerning ministers may be applied by you as you fulfill God’s call upon your life. No matter what the Lord has called you to, you also must be prepared to engage in warfare. And you also must be sure to hold faith and a good conscience lest you make a shipwreck of your faith.   

May it never be. May we all stay the course so that in the end we hear the words, “well done my good and faithful servant”.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 1:18-20: Wage The Good Warfare

What Benefits Accompany Or Flow From These?, Baptist Catechism 39, Romans 5:1-5

Baptist Catechism 39

Question: 39. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end. 

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1–5

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1–5, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Justification, adoption, and sanctification are the primary benefits that come to those who have faith in Jesus. 

All who are effectually called of God have faith in Jesus. And all who have faith in Jesus are justified — they are pardoned of all their sins and clothed with the righteousness of Christ. No longer do they stand before God guilty and condemned. Instead, they stand before him as innocent and pure because of Christ. 

All who have faith in Jesus are also adopted. They were once “children of wrath”, but through faith, they are adopted as beloved children of God, are received into the family of God, and they receive a rich inheritance. 

And all who have faith in Jesus are also sanctified or made holy. They are sanctified personally, being renewed in the inner man after the image of God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. They are sanctified positionally, being set apart from the world as God’s chosen and holy people. And they are also sanctified progressively, being over time made more and more holy in their way of life. Those with true faith in Christ will mature. They will grow in wisdom and in obedience. They will learn to walk in a manner that is worthy. This is progressive sanctification.

And from these three fountainhead blessings, other blessings naturally flow. Or I might put it this way: from these three foundational blessings, other blessings naturally grow. 

To help us understand the relationship between the foundational or fountainhead blessings, as I have called them, and the blessings that grow from them or flow from them, let us think about justification as it occurs in this world. Can you imagine an accused criminal standing before a judge? And can you imagine the judge slamming his gavel down while saying the words, “not guilty”? That legal declaration would be the greatest blessing — it would be the foundational or fountainhead blessing — but think of all the others blessings that would accompany or flow from that original blessing. Because of the legal declaration, the accused would walk out of the courtroom a free man. A great weight would be lifted from his shoulders. He would be free to return home to his family and friends. He would be free to work. He would be free from the fear of the threat of the law. So you see, the primary blessing of justification would naturally produce many other blessings. 

Or think of adoption. The one who is adopted (which is a legal arrangement at its core) enjoys many blessings as a result. The one who is adopted enjoys the love of mother and father, the blessing of family life, the provision of food, shelter, clothing, protection, and discipline. From the act of adoption flows many, many blessings. 

And so it is in Christ. Those who are brought to faith are justified, adopted, and sanctified, and many, many blessings naturally flow from these fountainhead benefits.

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Romans 5:1-5

Paul speaks to this in that Romans 5 passage that we read at the beginning of this sermon. There in that passage, his focus is on the benefits of justification. 

There he says, “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is not difficult to see that Paul treats justification as the primary, foundational, fountainhead blessing, and “peace with God” as one of the blessings that flow from it. And truly, that is a great blessing. Apart from Christ we are not at peace with God but are under his wrath. That is what John 3:36 says. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36, ESV)

Paul goes on in this passage to mention other blessings that flow from our justification through faith in Christ. He says, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…” So here is another benefit that flows from our justification. We have access to the Father. We are able to stand before him blameless through the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What a tremendous blessing this is! And it belongs to those who have been justified by faith in Christ. 

I pray that those of you who have been in Christ for a long time, maybe even from childhood, would not forget what a blessing it is to stand before God guiltless and pure. Those not in Christ stand before God guilty. The “the wrath of God remains on” them, and they know it. They may suppress that truth. They may deny that they know it. But they do know it. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:18–19, ESV). Men and women who are not in Christ know that there is a God and that they have sinned against him. They may have learned to suppress that truth very effectively and thoroughly, but deep down they know that they have sinned against God and will one day be judged by him. What a terrible way to live, having a conscience so burdened. As I have said, most find some way to suppress this knowledge. They distract themselves with the things of this world. They pursue pleasure. They medicate. They labor diligently to form philosophies which deny the existence of God, or the sinfulness of man, so as to escape the knowledge that God exists and that he will one day judge all evil. And as I have said, most are very good at this. They have to be if they are to cope. But those in Christ are free from this burden. They are justified. They stand before God righteous. They are at peace with God. The terrible burden of guilt has been lifted through faith in the savior that God has provided, Christ Jesus our Lord.

Having been justified, we are at peace with God. We have access to the Father and stand before him by God’s grace. And Paul goes on to say that “ we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” So, through faith we are justified. And because we are justified, we are at peace with God. And because we are at peace with God, we may stand before him. And all of this produces hope and joy. “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God”, the apostle says. 

And then he continues, saying, “Not only that…” There is more! “But we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1–5, ESV). 

Wow. The one who has faith in Christ — the one who is justified and at peace with God — is even able to rejoice (take joy) in suffering. How? Because we know that “endurance produces character… [and] hope.” More than this, we are able to rejoice in suffering knowing that the God who has pardoned all of our sins in Christ Jesus so that we might be reconciled to him, loves us.

So you see that Paul himself identified justification as a fountainhead blessing from which many other blessings flow. Of course, our catechism does not just have Romans 5 in view, but the whole of scripture. And it is right to identify justification, adoption as three fountainhead blessings, and to say that “assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end” do accompany or flow from these.  

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Catechism Explained

Let us now briefly consider the answer that our catechism gives, piece by piece. 

What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

The first that is mentioned is “assurance of God’s love”. Brothers and sisters, if you have faith in Christ you have been justified, adopted, and sanctified. And you can rest assured that God loves you. He loves you, not because you were lovely, but because he determined to set his love upon you. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1, ESV). And Paul in Romans 8:31ff asks, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” And then he answers, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31–39, ESV). God loves you because he chose to set his love on you. He has justified you. No one can condemn you. Indeed, no one and no thing can separate you “from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If you are justified, adopted and sanctified you have “assurance of God’s love”. 

The second benefit mentioned is “peace of conscience”. If you are in Christ then you are at peace with God, for your sins have been atoned for and your guilt is removed. You are right with God because you have been clothed in Christ’s righteousness. And this objective peace with God is the ground of the subjective peace that resides within your soul. You are at peace with God, really. And therefore you have peace within your soul, experientially. No longer is your conscience burdened by the reality of your sin and guilt and the sure expectation of judgment, for all of that has been removed by Christ. You really are at peace with God, and therefore, you really do experience peace of conscience. Or at least you should.

The third benefit mentioned is “joy in the Holy Spirit”. We are said to have joy in the Holy Spirit, for it is the Holy Spirit that helps us. He ministers to our souls and reminds us of the benefits that are ours in Christ Jesus. And if all that we have been saying regarding justification, adoption, and sanctification is true — which it certainly is — then how could you not have joy? Indeed, as has already been said, the Christian is able to rejoice even in tribulation. We are able to  “count it all joy… when [we] meet trials of various kinds, for [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3, ESV). We know that the God who loves us, and the God we love, works all things for our good. 

The fourth benefit mentioned is “increase of grace”. The Christian is saved by the grace of God at the beginning, and the Christian does grow in grace until the end. To increase in grace is to grow in Christ. And this is certainly one of the benefits that flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification. Our catechism lists Proverbs 4:18 as a proof text. It is beautiful: “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. [Verse 19] The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble” (Proverbs 4:18–19, ESV). Those justified and adopted will grow in Christ. They will be progressively sanctified by God’s grace. They will be “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” Or at least they should be. 

And the fifth benefit mentioned is “perseverance therein to the end.” Those who are justified, adopted, and sanctified through faith in Christ will persevere in grace until the end. None will be lost, for God preserves those who belong to him. This is what Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 1:3-5, saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5, ESV).

To say that salvation can be lost reveals that you have not understood the gospel. You did not earn your salvation at the start, and you do not earn it now through perseverance. Salvation is of the Lord. He gave it to you in the beginning, and he preserves you in it. We must persevere, but we are preserved by God’s grace. Christ will keep all who are his. Yes, there are false professors. Yes, some make false professions of faith. And how do we know who they are? We know them by their fruits. As John says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19, ESV). Those who walk away from their professed faith in Christ do not lose their salvation. They do not go from being justified to unjustified, adopted to unadopted, or sanctified to unsanctified. No, they never had any of these benefits, for their faith was false from the beginning. Though they may have fooled men for a time, God was never fooled, for he knows who are his. He chose them in eternity past, Christ atoned for their sins, and he will bring them safely home. They have, to quote Peter again, “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [them], who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

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Conclusion

Friends, these doctrines are practical. How important it is for you to know what is yours in Christ Jesus. If you have faith in Christ you are justified, adopted, and sanctified. And how important it is for you to also know what blessings flow from these. Being justified, adopted, and sanctified ought to produce “assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.” But perhaps you have noticed that these blessings are not automatic. 

If you are in Christ God surely loves you.  His love for you is sure for it is rooted, not in you, but in his decree and in the work that Christ has finished on your behalf. But we do not always feel assured of it. And there are many reasons for this. Our confession speaks of some of the reasons in 18.4, saying, “True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.” Again, we do not always feel assured of God’s love — and there are many reasons for this — but we should. For God love for us in Christ is sure.

I could say the same thing about the other benefits which flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification. They are not automatic. They are unshakably ours, but we must pursue them: “assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.”

Question: 39. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?

A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on What Benefits Accompany Or Flow From These?, Baptist Catechism 39, Romans 5:1-5

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 1:12-17: Christ Came To Save Sinners, Of Whom I Am The Foremost

New Testament Reading: Acts 9:1-19

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.’” (Acts 9:1–19, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12–17, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Here in this passage that we are considering today, Paul reminds Timothy of his former life in Judaism, how he once persecuted Christ’s church, of his conversion, and his appointment to the office of apostle. His presentation of his testimony here is very brief. It is only a summary of that story that is found in Acts 8 and following. Here in 1 Timothy the apostle does not speak of these things in detail, but only makes mention of them. Timothy knew the whole story. And indeed, the whole church would have been aware of the whole story. So Paul only gives a brief summary of it here. 

But what was the purpose of this? That is the question we must ask. Why did Paul interrupt his charge to Timothy, which was to confront false teaching within the church of Ephesus, to tell of his conversion and his appointment to the apostleship? You will notice that Paul returns to his charge to Timothy again in verse 18, saying, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare…”, etc. So he is not finished with his charge. And neither is he done with his rebuke of false teachers. In verse 20 he mentions two in particular:  “Hymenaeus and Alexander”, whom [he had] handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20, ESV). So again I ask, what is the purpose of this passage that is before us today? How does Paul’s brief presentation of his testimony fit within the argumentation of this letter? What is his point?

Three reasons can be identified. Paul reminded Timothy of his testimony, one, to defend his apostleship. Two, to present a pattern of true conversion. And three, to give all glory to God.

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To Defend His Apostleship

First, recognize that Paul speaks of his conversion to defend his apostleship and his authority as an apostle. 

As I have said before, apostles had a special kind of authority in the early days of the church. They were eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection. They were commissioned by Christ himself to serve as his special representatives. And this special authority possessed by the apostles was validated by signs and wonders. These apostles (and the prophets with them) worked miracles as proof that they spoke with divine authority. You can read all about this in the book of Acts. 

Now, Paul was an apostle, but he was unusual. He was not one of Christ’s original disciples. He did not walk with Jesus during his earthly ministry. In fact, he violently persecuted the church at the beginning. And so he was appointed as an apostle after all the rest. 

You can probably imagine how the opponents of Paul used this against him. No doubt these false teachers questioned his legitimacy by highlighting his violence against the church and his late arrival to the apostleship. It is not surprising, then, to see Paul defending his apostolic authority in the letters he wrote. For example, when he wrote to the Corinthians he listed those who had seen Christ in his resurrection. And at the end of that list he wrote, “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:8–9, ESV). And this was Paul’s consistent approach. He admitted that he was unworthy to hold the office, and yet at the same time he insisted that he did indeed hold the office, by the grace of God. 

Though I cannot take the time in this sermon, it would be a worthwhile study to read through Acts, chapters 8 and following, and to consider all of the ways in which Paul’s apostleship was validated. The circumstances surrounding his conversion validated his apostleship — his conversion was marked by the miraculous. The miracles he performed also validated his apostleship — they functioned as signs. His reception by the other apostles and the church at large validated his apostleship — Paul did not go it alone but submitted to the church at large. And so too his faithful gospel ministry and his willingness to suffer for the sake of Christ validated his apostleship — clearly he was not in it for selfish gain. He suffered greatly as and apostle of Christ. The point is this: though Paul was an unusual apostle, he was truly an apostle, and he was received as one by the early church. 

The apostle Peter even made mention of Paul in 2 Peter 3:15-16. Listen to what he said: “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15–16, ESV). Peter referred to Paul as “our beloved brother”. He commended his writings as wise, though he admits there are some things in them that are hard for some to understand. He even places Paul’s writings in the category of scripture.

Again, the point is this: Paul was an apostle. He saw the risen Lord, and he was commissioned by him. In fact, in order to demonstrate this to the church, the Lord called Paul through that faithful brother, Ananias. The Lord appeared to Ananias saying, “‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name’” (Acts 9:10–16, ESV). Paul was truly an apostle. The other apostles recognized this, as did the church at large. But his authority was often questioned by false teachers, just as it is to this present day. False teachers today will try to pit Paul against Jesus, or Paul against the other apostles. But their views are baseless.  

Here in 1 Timothy Paul defends his apostleship when he says, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:12–14, ESV).

Notice three things:

One, Paul does not deny his past but readily admits that he was formerly “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” of Christ and his church. A blasphemer is one who speaks evil of God and the things of God. And this Paul did when opposed Christ and his church at first. He persecuted the church. He was zealous in his persecution. He saw to it that many were imprisoned. Some he had killed. He harassed the early followers of The Way from town to town. The early disciples of Christ knew Paul, who was also called Saul, by name, and they feared him. Truly he was an insolent opponent — an arrogant and violent oppressor. Paul did not deny his past but readily admitted that he was opposed to Christ and his church at first.   

Two, Paul points to the mercy and grace of God as the ground of his apostleship. Indeed, all who were appointed to the office of apostle were appointed by the mercy and grace of God. Think of Peter and his shortcomings. Peter denied the Lord three times when the pressure was on. And yet the Lord had mercy upon him. He graciously restored him. And so it was with Paul. There was no room for boasting, therefore. He knew that he was undeserving and that he was appointed to the office by the mercy and grace of God alone. His first words are, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord.” It was Christ who appointed him to his service, despite his awful past. He says that he “received mercy” and that the “grace of our Lord overflowed for [him] with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”. In other words, the strong faith that Paul possessed, and the fervent love that he had for God and for the brethren, was an undeserved gift from God.  

And three, Paul says that the Lord “judged [him] faithful”, and that he received mercy because he acted “ignorantly in unbelief” when he persecuted the church. 

There are some who are perplexed by these words. They imagine that Paul here says that God showed him mercy and grace only because he was found faithful and only because he acted ignorantly and in unbelief. If this is what Paul means — that he was shown grace because of something deserving in him — then he would here contradict things that he has said elsewhere concerning the free and unmerited grace of God. 

 But upon closer examination we see that Paul clearly states in this passage that all is owed to the grace of God alone — his faith and his love were his only because [verse 14] the “grace of our Lord overflowed for [him]”. Indeed, everything good in Paul, including his faithfulness, is owed to this grace of God. Truly, God judged Paul faithful because God had, by his free grace, made Paul faithful. 

So what is Paul’s point? Why does he say in verse 12, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…” (1 Timothy 1:12–14, ESV). 

Well, notice that Paul is not here speaking of his salvation, but of his appointment to the office of apostle. He is speaking of his appointment to the service of Christ. And what is required to serve Christ in an official capacity, either as an apostle or an elder within Christ’s church? Among other things, ministers of the word must be found faithful. This is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. “This is how one should regard us [speaking of ministers of the word — Apollos, Cephas and himself], as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1–2, ESV). Faithfulness — that is, the quality of being trustworthy and dependable — is a requisite for ministers of the gospel. Though the word “faithful” is not used in the qualifications for elders which are listed later in this epistle, faithfulness is certainly implied. In fact, the term “faithful” could be used to summarize the qualifications that Paul gives. An elder must be faithful in the home and within the community before he serves in Christ’s church. It is interesting how often Paul emphasizes “faithfulness” when commending ministers of the word to the church. He commended Epaphras to the Colossians as a “ faithful minister of Christ” (Colossians 1:7, ESV). He said the same thing about  Tychicus, calling him a “beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” And Onesimus was also called a “ faithful and beloved brother” (Colossians 4:7–9, ESV). Indeed, it should be the objective of every Christian to be found faithful — constant, trustworthy, and dependable — but it is a requirement for ministers of the word. May the Lord say to each one of us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23, ESV).

Perhaps this is why Paul emphasized his faithfulness. As awful as his sins were against Christ and his church at the beginning, the Lord judged him faithful, and thus appointed him to the office of apostles. But even his faith and faithfulness were gifts from God. God’s grace was lavished upon him.

But what are we to think of Paul’s little remark, “I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…” Well, let us think about the sins that Paul committed prior to his conversion. They were truly heinous sins. By his own admission, he was “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent”. And do not forget the qualifications that Paul will soon lay down for elders. They must be, among other things, “above reproach… not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome…” (1 Timothy 3:2-3, ESV). I would imagine that some questioned Paul’s credentials saying, how could someone with a past like Paul’s be appointed to such a high office in Christ’s church. And the answer? By the mercy and grace of God. He was renewed. He demonstrated that he was renewed over a long period of time.  And concerning his former sins, he committed them being zealous for God and things of God, though he was ignorant. 

In a sense, all sin is sin. And we know that the wages of sin is death. But it is also true that we may distinguish between sins. Some sins are more heinous than others. Some sins have more severe consequences in this life. Some sins are committed intentionally, while others are committed unintentionally. Some sins are disqualifying for ministers, whereas others are not. Here Paul seems to be clarifying that although his former sins were truly heinous, he committed them truly believing that he was serving God and furthering his purposes. He was a blasphemer but did not know it. He was a violent opponent of the church, but he sincerely believed he was offering service to God. This does not make the wrong, right. But it does help us to understand Paul. He was always faithful, and he was always zealous to serve God, but he was ignorant. He was blinded by his sin until Christ graciously removed the scales from his eyes. And this is what Paul seems to be drawing our attention to in this passage when he says, the Lord “judged me faithful, appointing me to his service”, and “I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…” (1 Timothy 1:12–14, ESV). 

So why did Paul make mention of his former life as a prosecutor of Christ’s church, his conversion, and his appointment to the service of Christ? First, to defend his apostleship against critics.

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To Present a Pattern For True Conversion

Secondly — and I think this is even more important — Paul gives his testimony to present a pattern for true conversion. Stated differently, Paul’s own conversion was to be viewed as typical

Now, please don’t misunderstand. Paul’s conversion was, in some respects, far from typical. Really, it was quite extraordinary, involving visions and supernatural occurrences. But in another respect, Paul’s conversion was typical. He was living in sin and darkness as a prideful and self-righteous enemy of God, until the Lord graciously revealed himself to him, humbled him, and removed the scales from his eyes so that he might see the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what I mean by typical. Paul’s conversion was spectacularly typical. What he experienced is what we have experienced if we are in Christ, though the details certainly differ.

In fact, this is precisely what Paul says in verse 16: “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16, ESV). In other words, Paul was converted as he was so that his conversion might “display” the perfect patience of Christ towards sinners, even vile sinners. 

As I have said, all who are in Christ have experienced what Paul experienced, though probably in a less spectacular fashion. 

You too once walked in darkness. You were blinded by your sin and puffed up with pride.

And then in a moment, you were humbled. Your eyes were opened to the severity of your sin and to glorious grace that is found in Christ Jesus. Having been humbled you were drawn to Christ, and you believed upon him. 

And having believed upon Christ you were received by the church through the waters of baptism. And from there you began to grow and to serve the Lord, in one way or another, for the advancement of his kingdom.

In this way, Paul’s conversion is a pattern for true conversion. 

And I want you to recognize two vital components of true conversion. One, a true realization of one’s sin. And two, a true appreciation for the grace of God that is bestowed upon us in Christ Jesus. 

Clearly, Paul understood that God’s grace is glorious. In verse 14 we read, “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14, ESV). Grace is undeserved favor. Grace is a gift. By God’s grace, Paul had faith and Christ and love. And he speaks of God’s grace as “overflowing”. God’s grace is not meager or stingy, it is overflowing, superabundant.

But before we can comprehend the superabundance of God’s grace, we must first comprehend the horror of our sin against God. 

Does that sound overstated to you? I hope not. Our sin is truly horrendous. We have failed to love God as we should, and we have failed to love our neighbor as ourselves. Add to this the sins that we have actually committed. Truly, we are rebels who deserve the judgment of God who is pure, right, and perfectly just. I wonder, do you see your sin as horrendous? I ask you this not to drive you from God and to despair, but to urge you to run to God through Christ because his grace is overflowing! Paul saw God’s grace as superabundant because he knew that his sin was so severe. 

Look at verse 15. There Paul says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV).

When Paul says that this “saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance”, he is referring to a staying that was common amongst the early Christians. Evidently it was common for them  to say, perhaps in their worship, or perhaps in their personal conversations, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Paul is here saying, this saying is good and true and ought to be accepted and used.

Where did this saying come from? Well, the first part is based upon something that Christ himself said. Do you remember that episode that is recorded for us in Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Luke 5 where Jesus is criticized by the religious leaders of his day for eating with tax collectors and sinners? What was his reply? He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17, ESV). This teaching of Christ is reflected in the first part of this “saying” that is “trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”. He came for this purpose, to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, ESV). The second portion of the saying, “of whom I am the foremost”, is the invention of the early church. But Paul agrees that this portion of the saying is also “trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance”. 

 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” What does this mean?

One, Christ’s purpose for coming into the world was to save sinners. He did not come primarily to teach. He did not come primarily to serve as a moral example. He came to rescue men and women from sin and the effects of sin. He came to atone for sin. 

Two, if one thinks of themself as righteous, then Christ is of no benefit to them. That is the point of that passage that I cited from the gospels just a moment ago. No one is righteous, no not one. But many think they are righteous. And if someone thinks they are righteous, then Christ is of no benefit to them. They cannot be saved. Christ came to save sinners. And that is why he ate with tax collectors and sinners. They were sinners, and they knew it! Many of the Pharisees, on the other hand, we sinners, but they knew it not. If anyone is to come to Christ truly, they must come to him as the sinners they are, and not as if they were righteous. 

Three, the phrase “of whom I am the foremost” means, I consider myself to be the worst of sinners. Notice that Paul took this phrase to himself. When Paul thought of his own sin he considered himself to be the chief of sinners, or the foremost of sinners.

I think that many Christians are tempted to come running to Paul’s defense, saying, no, Paul. You really aren’t so bad. There are certainly worse sinners than you! Or maybe others questioned Paul’s sincerity, thinking, Paul said this, but he really did not believe it. 

Consider three things though. One, Paul’s sin really was great. He persecuted the church. Christian’s lives were ruined because of what he did. Some were killed. Steven, the first martyr of the church, was stoned to death while Paul, who was also called Saul, gave his formal consent (see Acts 8:1). In fact, it is not hard to imagine that Paul really considered himself to be the foremost of sinners. Two, it is not unreasonable for any Christian to sincerely believe themselves to be the foremost of sinners, even if they have lived a relatively good and wholesome life. I’m much more aware of my sins than I am of yours (or at least I should be). For every one sin of yours that I might be aware of, I am aware of 100 of my own (or at least I should be). And three, as we mature in Christ we should grow more aware of our sin, and not less. It’s a strange phenomenon. As we mature in Christ we actually sin less and less, but we are aware of our sin more and more, so that those who are mature in Christ say with honesty, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 

As I have said, Paul’s conversion is set forth here as a pattern for true conversion. We are not truly converted unless we are truly humble concerning our sin, and grateful for the superabundant grace that is ours in Christ Jesus.  

But I still have not really answered the question, why does Paul insert his conversion story here in his letter to Timothy? What does his conversion have to do with these false teachers and the charge that he is delivering to Timothy to deal with them?

Let’s think about this for a moment. 

One, can you see how Paul’s testimony would itself counter the errors of these false teachers? They were mishandling the law of Moses, remember. And instead of using the law to confront men in their sin, and thus to drive them to Christ, they were consumed with speculations about myths and genealogies. It is safe to assume, I think, that instead of confronting men with their sin and urging repentance and faith in Christ, these false teachers were claiming to have some kind of special knowledge gained from their expertise in the law of Moses. Paul’s conversion is a reminder that true conversion involves turning from sin and to Christ, and the law is to be use to show us our sin and to drive us from Christ. These false teachers understood neither the law nor the gospel. Their message was powerless to save, therefore .

Two, Paul’s testimony would have also reminded Timothy to be appropriately gracious with these false teachers. That might sound strange, but think of it. Paul did not tell Timothy to cast these men out of the church, but to “charge… [them] not to teach any different doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3, ESV). Repentance was the goal. If they refused to repent from teaching another doctrine, then they would be like “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [Paul]… handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20, ESV). These would not turn from their error, and so they were put out of the church. But Timothy was to begin by urging these “certain persons” not to teach any different doctrine”. And how valuable it would have been for Timothy to remember Paul’s story as he ministered to these. Paul himself was a “blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” of the church, but God was merciful and kind to him, appointing him to the apostleship, for he acted in ignorance. I hope you would agree with me that there is a great difference between a false teacher who teaches different doctrine because he is ignorant, and a false teacher who teaches different doctrine knowing that he is doing so and for selfish gain. If the man is faithful, he will turn from his way and right the wrong. But if the man is faithless and self-serving, he will persist in his error to his own ruin and the ruin of others. These two types must be dealt with differently. And I believe that the reminder of Paul’s testimony would help Timothy to discern the appropriate way. 

Three, Paul’s testimony concerning his former sin and the superabundant grace of God that was shown to him would help Timothy to maintain a kind and patient disposition, not only towards these false teachers, some of whom acted out of ignorance, but towards all of the saints in Ephesus who were struggling with sin. A minster of the word must deal with sin within the Christian congregation. Sin, be it moral failure or false teaching, must be addressed. It cannot be ignored. The whole church must deal with it, but pastors have a special obligation to deal with it. But we are to do so patiently. Listen to 2 Timothy 2:24: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24–26, ESV). This does not mean that there is never time for a firm rebuke. But even if a rebuke is in order, patience is required. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 5:14: “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, ESV). 

One of the worst things that can happen within the heart of a pastor is for him to forget his own sin and to lose sight of the grace of God as he ministers to others in their sin. Christ said, “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4–5, ESV). Notice that Christ does not say, do not be concerned with the speck in your brother’s eye, but rather, “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” When you take the log from your own eye first, you will gain a heart of compassion for your brother or sister. Pastors must deal with sin within the congregation, but they must be patient, loving and kind. And if they are to maintain that disposition, they must never lose sight of their own sin and the superabundant grace of God that has been shown to them. These false teachers needed to be corrected. Indeed, they may have been deserving of a firm rebuke. But Paul reminded Timothy that he himself was a “blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” at the start, but God was merciful to him. 

Brothers and sisters, what I have just said about the heart of a pastor applies to you also. Do you consider your own sin and the marvelous grace that has been shown to you when relating to one another, or have you developed a judgemental spirit? This can be applied to relationships that exist within Christ’s church, but also the relationships within the home. Husbands and wives, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29–32, ESV). Parents, do the same for your children as you raise them in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. Discipline them but in love. Shower them with grace.

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To Give All Glory To God

There is one last thing that needs to be said concerning the reason that Paul gave his testimony here: to give all glory to God. 

Look at verse 17: To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:12–17, ESV).

Brothers and sisters, when the law and gospel are faithfully proclaimed, it is God who gets the glory, and not man. Conversely, when the law and gospel are distorted, it is man who gets the glory and not God.

Truly, we are sinners saved by the grace of God alone. To him be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 1:12-17: Christ Came To Save Sinners, Of Whom I Am The Foremost

Evening Sermon: What Is Sanctification?, Baptist Catechism 38, Proverbs 3:1–12

Baptist Catechism 38

Question: What is sanctification?

Answer: Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 3:1–12

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine. My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:1–12, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church, but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

The question that is before us today is, what is sanctification?

Sanctification is the third of the three fountainhead blessings that our catechism identifies as  belonging to those who have faith in Christ. I call them “fountainhead blessings” because there are other blessings — indeed many other blessings! — but these either accompany or flow from the three that are mentioned: justification, adoption and now sanctification.  To be justified is to be pardoned, that is, declared not guilty and made righteous in God’s sight. To be adopted is to be received into God’s family as beloved children. It is not difficult to see that there are many other blessings that are attached to or flow from these benefits. But as I have said, sanctification is the third of the three fountainhead blessings. 

What is sanctification? The answer provided by our catechism is very good. It is carefully worded, brief, and a true summary of the teaching of Holy Scripture. 

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 Catechism Explained

The Work Of God’s Free Grace

The first thing that our catechism says is, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace…” 

This phrase should sound very familiar to you by now. Remember that both justification and adoption were called “an act of God’s free grace.” So whatever we say about sanctification we begin by confessing that it is God’s work, and that it is by his grace. We are justified, adopted and sanctified by God, and these three benefits come to us as a gift from God. We do not earn them in any way. They do not come to us because we are deserving, but because God is gracious and kind.

The introductory phrases to the questions regarding justification, adoption, and sanctification are very similar. But perhaps you noticed a slight difference in the answer regarding sanctification. Whereas justification and adoption are said to be “an act of God’s free grace”, sanctification is said to be “the work of God’s free grace.” 

There is a reason for the change. Justification and adoption are called an act of God because they are things that happen to us in a moment. In a moment God justifies us. In a moment God adopts us. There is nothing progressive about justification and adoption. And neither is there anything required for us to receive these benefits (except faith, which is also a gift from God). And so justification and adoption are rightly called acts of God. But sanctification is called “the work of God”, and this is a fitting description. 

One, sanctification is a work that God does in us. 

Two, though sanctification is God’s work ultimately, we do also contribute to it as we pursue holiness and maturity by God’s grace.  

And three, though sanctification is in one sense an instantaneous act of God, it is in another sense a progressive work. Your sanctification, friends, is a work in progress.

As in the previous two questions the word “whereby” signals that we are about to be told what sanctification involves. And two things are to be noted. One, the one who has faith in Christ is sanctified personally and positionally the moment they believe. And two, the one who has faith in Christ is sanctified progressively throughout the Christian life. It is a process that will only be finished when Christ returns to make all things new, or the Lord call us home through death.

Positional and Personal Sanctification

First, let us consider our personal and positional sanctification. This is what our catechism is referring to when it says, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God…”

To be sanctified is to be made holy. And there is a sense in which this happens really, truly, and fully at the start of the Christian life the moment we believe. We are in a moment changed from being unholy to holy. 

We are positionally sanctified the moment we believe. This means we are set apart from the world and unto God as holy.

Paul uses the word “sanctified” in this sense when he greeted the Corinthian church, saying, “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:1–3, ESV). Here he speaks of sanctification as something accomplished perfectly in their past. They were set apart to the Lord. And so it is for you, if you are in Christ Jesus. You have been set apart from the world to be holy and to belong to God.  

We are also personally sanctified the moment we believe. And personally I mean, we are changed to the core of our being. Our catechism uses the word “renewed”. We are “renewed in the whole man after the image of God…”

This reference to the “image of God” is very helpful, I think. It reminds us of what we learned earlier in our catechism about the creation of man. In question 13 we learned that “God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.” And in questions 16 through 22 we learned about man’s fall into sin and its effects. Question 21 was particularly enlightening concerning the effects of sin. Q. 21: Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell? A: The sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.

If you wish to connect that section of our catechism which talks about our sin and its effects (questions 16 – 22), and the section that talks about our salvation in Christ Jesus and the benefits that accompany it (questions 32 – 41), then notice that justification takes care of the problem of “the guilt of Adam’s first sin” and “the want [lack] of original righteousness”, and personal sanctification takes care of the problem of “the corruption of his whole nature.” Man is made in the image of God, but now that we are fallen into sin, man’s nature is corrupt. But in Christ we are renewed. 

Paul speaks of this renewal in 2 Corinthians 5:17, saying, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). And in Ephesians 4:20 he says, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” If you are in Christ, you have a “new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”. And it is this “new self” that you are daily to “put on”. 

Progressive Sanctification

That Ephesians 4:20 passage that I have just read provides us with an opportunity to transition over to progressive sanctification. Perhaps you notice that personal sanctification and progressive sanctification are intertwined in that passage. Again, if you are in Christ, you have a “new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”. And it is this “new self” that you are daily to “put on”. Learning to “put off the old self… and to put on the new self” is a process. The process of renewal is only possible because we have been renewed.

This is what our catechism is teaching when it says, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”

The word enabled is important. It helps us to see that we have a role to play in our sanctification. We must choose to mature in Christ. We must choose to walk worthy, and to be holy as God is holy. We must choose to put sin to death and to live unto righteousness. And we must choose to put off the old self, and to put on the new. But the word “enabled” reminds us that it is God who makes the progress possible. The progress is possible because God, by his grace, has sanctified us positional and personally. And it is possible because God, by his grace, is finishing the good work that he has started within us. We have a part to play in sanctification, but it is God who enables the progress. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, ESV). 

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Conclusion 

As we begin to move towards the conclusion, let me make some suggestions for application. 

One, if you are in Christ you ought to be eager to make progress in your sanctification. Contentment is a good thing. But complacency is deadly. Never should the Christian grow complacent, but should be eager to see whatever corruptions remain within them driven out. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–8, ESV)

Two, as you pursue sanctification, do not be so foolish to go it alone, but pursue it with the strength that God supplies. Rember, sanctification is God’s work, and he is the who enables the progress. Abide in Christ. Walk in the Spirit. Make use of the means of grace that God has provided — fellowship, the word of God preached and read, the sacraments, and prayer. And how very important it is to pray! For when we pray, we are taking a posture of humble dependence, saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9–13, ESV). If we hope to make progress in our sanctification then we must begin here, in prayerful dependence upon God, who sanctifies his people. 

And three, let us understand how God sanctifies us. Indeed, he uses many things to sanctify us. He uses his word as it is read and preached to teach us how to live. In particular the Spirit of God uses the law of God to show us our sin and to convict us. God also uses other people to sanctify us. You have heard the proverb , “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV). And God uses the circumstances of life to sanctify his people. This is especially true of difficult circumstances. They are like a refining fire. The Lord often uses them to drive away impurities — pride, love of self, and love of the world. This is why James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4, ESV). And this is why the Proverb said, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” When we face trials and tribulations in this life, or when the Lord chastises us in some other way, we are to rejoice in it, knowing that the Father loves us, and is working all things together for our good and his glory.  

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Evening Sermon: What Is Sanctification?, Baptist Catechism 38, Proverbs 3:1–12

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 1:8-11: The Law Is Good, If One Uses It Lawfully

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 20:1–17

“And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them… [verse 7] You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God… [verse 11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’” (Exodus 20:1–17, ESV)

New Testament Reading: 1 Timothy 1:8-11

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” (1 Timothy 1:8–11, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

In the previous passage, we learned that churches, and particularly pastors, have the responsibility to proclaim true doctrine and to insist that no different doctrine be taught within Christ’s church. The church was born of the truth and is continuously nurtured by the truth. True doctrine will produce unity and good order within the church. False doctrine will lead only to speculation and strife. We must never forget what the church is. She is “the household of God… the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15, ESV). Those who teach a different doctrine — doctrine that differs from the teaching of Paul, the other apostles, of Christ himself, and the prophets before him — are to be strictly warned to cease. The church cannot tolerate false doctrine in her midst. False doctrine is spiritual poison. In time, it will lead to spiritual sickness and even spiritual death within the church of God. 

In the passage that is before us today, we gain more insight into the kind of false teaching that was present within the church of Ephesus when Timonty began to minister there. And as we consider this passage carefully we will recognize that the false teaching in Ephesus was in some ways similar to the false teaching that threatened other congregations in the days of the early church. And not only that, we will also recognize that the kind of false teaching that threatened Ephesus still plagues the church even to this present day. 

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that this same form of false teaching is present in the church today. In fact, Paul does not tell us enough about this form of false teaching to enable us to know exactly what it was. His objective in writing to Timothy was, among other things, to see this false teaching eradicated from the church in Ephesus. It is not surprising that he does not mention the specifics of the teaching. Timothy knew the specifics. Paul simply identifies the root problems. So, although we do not know the details of the false teaching, we do know the essence of it. And as I have said, the essence of this false teaching still plagues the church even to this present day. The details are probably different, but the essentials errors remain the same. 

Two essential errors can be identified in Paul’s letter to Timothy. The first is general, the second more specific. One, these false teachers, whoever they were, rooted their teaching in a misuse of the Holy Scriptures. And two, these false teachers, whoever they were, rooted their teaching in a misinterpretation of the law of Moses.

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False Teachers Misuse The Scriptures

 First of all, let us consider the very general observation that false teachers misuse the scriptures. And when I say that they misuse the scriptures I am acknowledging that they do use the scriptures. In fact,  sometimes they use the scriptures a lot. But friends, I hope you would agree that quoting scripture, even if you quote it extensively, does not make your teaching “biblical”. Perhaps you have heard the expression, “every heretic has his prof text”? And it is certainly true. False teachers will slide into the church with a Bible in their hand, and it will probably be well worn. False teachers rarely, if ever, reject the scriptures outright. Instead, they misuse the scriptures. 

Paul’s little statement here in verse 8 is what brought this general observation to mind: “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully”, he says. In just a moment we will come to the more specific observation that these false teachers misused the law of Moses in particular. But for now, let me say a word about the misuse of scripture in general. 

When Paul says, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully”, he means that the law is good provided that it is used as it was intended to be used, or according to its design. And the same may be said concerning the use of all scripture. The scriptures must be interpreted and used according to their intent.  Indeed this is what Paul urged Timothy to do as a minister of the word in his second letter to him. In 2:15 we read, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”. Not only is a pastor to handle the word of truth, he is to handle it rightly, or correctly.

So how does a Pastor know if he is handling the word of truth rightly? Or, how does a congregation know if their Pastor is handling the word of truth rightly? 

Two things come to mind:

One, the teaching of Pastors must accord with sound doctrine. This is precisely what Paul required of Titus, saying in Titus 2:1, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1, ESV). The teaching of Titus, and every other minister of the word, is to accord or fit with doctrine that is sound or correct. The undeniable implication of this command is that there is a doctrinal standard to which ministers of the word are to conform. Pastors are not free to invent their doctrine. Being novel and creative is celebrated in so many fields, but it should not be celebrated in the teaching ministry of the church. Pastors are called to receive the word of God and proclaim it. They are to promote and defend the faith entrusted to them. Theirs is, in part, a ministry of preservation. They are ministers, or servants, of the word, and not masters who stand over the word. 

And where is this “word of truth” or “sound doctrine” found? Well, the apostles received it from Christ verbally. The next generation of leaders within the church received it from the apostles both verbally and in written form. And in due time this word of truth was committed wholly unto writing so that today we have the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as our standard, rule, or cannon. 

This is the very first thing that our confession of faith says. Chapter 1, Paragraph 1: “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.” So what is the doctrinal standard to which ministers of the gospel are to conform? It is the doctrine of Christ, the apostles, and prophets as contained within Holy Scripture. 

Given that the scriptures are our authority for truth, it should not surprise that they are constantly under attack. Those who are opposed to the truth will attack the scriptures in many different ways. Some will question its absolute authority. Others will question the doctrine of inspiration, saying, this is merely the word of man, and not the word of God. Some will question its infallibility, claiming that it contains errors. And others will question its purity, claiming that it has been corrupted in the process of transmission. False teachers will attack the scriptures in these ways (and others) in order to make room for their own novel teaching. But I have noticed that many in our day will attack the scriptures by claiming that they are unclear. These will say, yes, the scriptures are our authority for truth. They are inspired and inerrant and have been faithfully preserved. But they are unclear. We cannot be dogmatic, therefore, in our doctrine. We must be open to a diversity of opinions, etc. Now, I will grant that the scriptures are not clear regarding every question that we may have. But the scriptures are clear regarding all things essential to the faith. This is the doctrine of the perspicuity or clarity of scripture, and it is beautifully stated in chapter 1, paragraph 7 of our confession, which says that “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned [literate], but the unlearned [illiterate], in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.” The scriptures are sufficiently clear. And consider what we would be saying about God if we deny this. We would be saying that God inspired the word so that it might be our authority for matters of faith and practice, but God wasn’t a very good communicator. We cannot quite understand what he is getting at. The denial of the doctrine of the perpetuity of scripture a lame excuse put forth by those who, for one reason or another, do not want to submit to what God has revealed in his word. 

So how does a Pastor know if he is handling the word of truth rightly? Or, how does a congregation know if their Pastor is handling the word of truth rightly? By comparing what is being taught with the doctrines clearly set forth in Holy Scripture. By the way, the creeds and confessions of the church are very helpful in this, for they provide a summary of the essential doctrines of Holy Scripture as understood by the church throughout history. These creeds and confessions are in no way authoritative, but they do summarize the teaching of Holy Scripture, and so they are of great use to the church of God and ought not to be neglected. 

Secondly, a pastor and congregations may know that the word of truth is being handled correctly if it is being interpreted according to the method of interpretation by the Psalmists, the Old Testament prophets, Christ, and his Apostles and prophets who ministered in the earliest days of the church. I will not belabor this point. I said more about it in the sermon that was preached last Sunday. But please remember that the scriptures present, not only words and stories and various doctrines but also a method of interpretation which is to be followed. In brief, we are to remember that when Jesus met with his disciples after the resurrection, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27, ESV). And Indeed our confession is correct when it says in chapter 1 paragraph 9, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.”

The point is this: False teachers do not often deny the scriptures, they misuse them. They carry Bibles that are well worn. They quote vast amounts of scripture to support their doctrines. And they will certainly claim to be “biblical”. Notice that those who were teaching a different doctrine in Ephesus made confident assertions and claimed to be teachers of the law (of Moses). And there are many who teach different doctrines in the church today. They do so with their Bibles wide open. They do not deny the scriptures, they misuse them. And the end result, remember, is “speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:4, ESV).

As I think of the misuse of scripture in our day, leading to “speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith”, I cannot help but think of the way that the dispensational pre-millenialists handle the books of prophesy in the Old Testament and the New. When considering those precious books, they do not employ sound methods of interpretation — the do allow “scripture to interpret scripture” — instead they wrench those prophecies from their historical and biblical contexts, they fail to identify Christ and his kingdom as the fulfillment of them, and the end result is certainly speculation — endless and empty speculations concerning the daily news and the time of the end. How many of their predictions regarding the mark of the beast, wars and rumors of wars, nations rising up against nations, earthquakes, famines, and blood moons need to go unfulfilled before those who have devoted themselves to their teaching come to their senses and call it for what it is — a misuse of scripture leading to idle and empty “speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” I don’t live in that world anymore, so I can only imagine what they are saying about COVID-19 and the 2020 election. 

Dear brethren, we see to it that true and sound doctrine is proclaimed within Christ’s church. The scriptures must be interpreted according to their intent — the intent of the original author, and even more importantly, the intent of the One who inspired these men to write as they did. Sometimes God revealed things through them that even they did not fully comprehend. Concerning salvation in Christ Jesus, “the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:10–12, ESV).

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False Teachers Often Misinterpret The Law Of Moses

Having now addressed the more general observation that false teachers misuse the scriptures, let us now consider the more specific problem of false teachers misinterpreting the law of Moses. This was a problem in Ephesus. It was a very common problem in the early church. And it continues to be a common problem even today. 

And to be transparent, I can understand why it is a problem. This is a big and somewhat complex topic. How is the Christian to understand the relationship between the law of Moses and the gospel of Jesus Christ? Stated differently, what does the laws of Moses — the ten commandments along with all of the other laws recorded in Exodus through Deuteronomy given to Israel —  have to do with the Christian religion? Stated yet another way, what is the relationship between the Old Covenant and The New? Or, what is the relationship between the covenants transacted with Abraham, Moses, and David, and the New Covenant ratified in Christ’s blood? I would assume that most Christians have at some point found themselves asking questions like, how does this apply to me? or, is this law still binding on Christians today?, while reading passages of scripture in the Old Testament, particularly in Exodus through Deuteronomy. So I am somewhat sympathetic towards those who struggle to make sense of these things.

But brothers and sisters, the scriptures are not unclear. And here in 1 Timothy Paul is not concerned with the members of Christ’s church, but with those who are claiming to be teachers in Christ’s church. These were teachers who were misinterpreting the law of Moses. And if a man cannot properly convey the relationship between law and gospel, or the progression from the Old Covenant to the New, or the organic development of the promises of God in the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and David covenants leading to their fulfillment in Christ and the New Covenant ratified in his blood, then he ought not to teach in Christ’s church. For there are not tangential issues, but central to a correct understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It was the law of Moses that was being mishandled in the church of Ephesus. And as I have said, this was a common problem within the early church even up to this present day. So we might ask, how has the law of Moses been mishandled throughout the history of the church and to this present day? I suppose that a thorough exploration of this question would require the writing of books or volumes of books. But let me try to answer that question succinctly by presenting you with four terms. I am not claiming that my answer here is thorough, but I believe this will get us thinking in the right direction.  

How have men mishandled the law of Moses throughout the history of the church and to this present day?

First of all, let us consider legalism in all of its various forms. Legalism is the belief that man is somehow made right before God through his keep of the law. According to legalism, the law is the gospel. A person is justified, either in whole or in part, through obedience to law or good works. Legalism takes many forms, but they all share this in common. The law is viewed as a way to salvation. There were certainly legalists in the early church, and Paul often contended with them, saying things like, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4, ESV). And there are legalists in the church today. Those who believe that salvation can be lost through disobedience are really legalists, for example. They suppose that one is saved by grace at the beginning, but must maintain their salvation by obedience to the law. When all is said and done, this is not salvation by grace alone through faith alone, but salvation through law-keeping. Legalism in all of its varieties obliterates the gospel.   

Secondly, let us consider antinomianism in all of its various forms. The antinomian teaches that for the Christian there is no law. Only the law of love, or only the law of Christ. According to the antinomian, the law is incompatible with the gospel. This too is a mishandling of the law of Moses. The antinomian fails to see that love is the summary and essence of God’s moral law. True, the Christian is not under the law as a covenant of works, but God’s moral law still applies. This moral law is written on the Christian’s heart. She obeys it, not out of mere duty, but a renewed spirit. Our confession summarizes the biblical teaching on this point when it says in 19.6, “Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unalloyed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man’s doing good and refraining from evil, for the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.” Antinomianism is a misinterpretation of the law of Moses. It was present in the early church, and Paul often contended with this teaching. This is why he says in 1 Timothy 1:7 “the law is good”! And in Romans 7:7, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means!” And a little bit later in the same passage, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12, ESV).

Thirdly, consider dispensationalism (in its classic and extreme form) and its teaching that for some salvation was by the works of the law, and for others, salvation is through faith in Christ. Dispensationalism is a modern teaching, but forms of it were present even in the early church as men and women struggled to correctly interpret the law. But this idea that there are two ways of salvation, one for the Jews and one for Gentiles, is completely incompatible with the clear teaching of scripture. Friends, people were saved by grace through faith even in the days of Abraham and Moses. They were to believe upon the Messiah who had not yet come as he was held out before them in promises, prophesies, types, and shadows. This is why Paul said, “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Romans 4:1–8, ESV). Dispensationalism in its various forms misinterprets the law of Moses. 

Lastly, consider Messianic-Judaism. Truthfully, I struggled to find an -ism to match the other -isms that I have presented to you. But what I have in mind here are those who teach that Christians ought to retain practices that are unique to the Old Covenant in this New Covenant era. This was a very common problem within the early church, and understanblty so. One of the most pressing questions for the apostles was, what should we require of these Gentile converts. Must they be circumcised as the male Jews were under the Old Covenant? Ought they to honor the holy days as presicriobed in the law of Moses? What should they eat? Is there to be any food off-limits for them as it was under the Old Covenant? Paul (and the other apostles) contended with this misinterpretation of the law saying things like, “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15, ESV). And to those who were tempted to think that circumcision was required for salvation he said, “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:2–4, ESV).

Let us briefly consider what Paul says about the law  here in 1 Timothy 1:8–11. Really it is quite simple.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

In verses 8 he says, “Now we know that the law is good…”

The words “now we know” indicate that this is common knowledge amongst the apostles and their co-workers. And the statement “the law is good” is massively importinat. When the Christian thinks of the law he is to think of something good and beneficial. 

But then Paul immediately qualifies his statement with the phrase “…if one uses it lawfully”. Stated in a different way, the law is bad if one uses it inappropriately! Sometimes Paul sounds as if he is against law. But he is not against the law, he is against the improper use of the law!

And the words “…understanding this…” indicate that Paul is about to say something crucial about the lawful use of the law. And what does it say? “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient…”

So here is where we must begin with the law. We must recognize that the law (now that we have fallen into sin) is not given to men who are just, but to men who are lawless and disobedient. Our view of the law must be shaped by this moist fundamental observation. What is the law for? Well, it is to be used to address moral questions, and certainly not for speculations about genealogies. The law is to be used to deal with men in their sin.

It seems to me that Paul has the whole law of Moses, or the first five books of the bible in view when he speaks of the law. After all, these false teachers were devoted to myths (presumably concerning the patriarchs), and genealogies (presumably the genealogies found in the first five books). But Pual does hone in upon the Ten Commandments in particular. 

If you pay close attention to the sins that Paul lists you will see that they are particular violations of the Ten Commandments. “Those who strike their fathers and mothers” violate the fifth. Murderers violate the sixth. Those who are sexually immoral and men who practice homosexuality violate the seventh. Enslavers or man thieves violate the eighth. Liers and perjurers violate the ninth. And then Paul does not mention covetousness but gives way to this little summary phrase instead, “and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.”

It is rather easy to see that the second table of the law is behind Paul’s list of sins here. But the first table of the law is also present behind what Paul says in verse 9. “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly…” The “ungodly” are those who are godless and impious. And the first command is to “have no other Gods before me”. Secondly, Paul mentions “sinners”. Often this Greek word is used to refer to sinners in general, but sometimes it is used more specifically to refer to those who are irreligious and idolatrous. I think that is what Paul has in mind here given the pattern we see. The second commandment forbids idolatry. Thirdly, Paul mentions the “unholy”. Again, this word may be used generically, but it can also have a more specific reference to those who are impious. Christians are called to hallow God’s name or regard it as holy. Those who profane God’s name are “unholy”. The third commandment forbids taking the Lord’s name in vain. And then lastly, Paul mentions the “profane”. The fourth commandment is to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Those who violate this commandment profane the Lord’s Day.   

Notice lastly that the law of Moses in general, and I think the Ten Commandments in particular, are said to be  “…in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which [Paul had] been entrusted.”

So the law is not the gospel. No one can be saved through the keeping of the law now that we are in sin. But the law is in accordance with the gospel. The two do belong together. They work together. Or to us the language of our confession in 19.7 “Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.”

To put it very simply, the law is not for speculation, but to deal with issues of morality. And the law is not for the righteous (for no one is righteous, no not one), but it addresses sinners in their sin. And what does the law do for sinners? Well, for those not in Christ it shows them their sin and their need for a Savior. The law sweaty complies with the gospel in that the law shows men their need for the gospel! But it is useful also for believers who continue to struggle with sin. The law helps to see the corruptions that remain. It reminds us of our need for a Savior, moving us to cling to him ever more closely. It is used by the Spirit to bring us to repentance. And does further teach us how we are to  live in this world in a way that is pleasing to God.

Friends, the law is good, provided that we use it lawfully.

*****

Closing Prayer

Posted in Sermons, Gospel Community Groups, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 1:8-11: The Law Is Good, If One Uses It Lawfully


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