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

Discussion Questions For Sermon On 1 Timothy 2:1-7

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AT HOME OR IN GOSPEL COMMUNITY GROUPS

Sermon manuscript available at emmausrbc.org

  • Why is prayer the first thing that Paul urges the church to do?
  • What does Paul mean when he says pray “for all people”? What does he not mean?
  • What difference does the doctrine of the image of God make when it comes to our view of humanity and the diversity that exists within it?
  • Why does Paul emphasize “kings and all who are in high positions”? In other words, why might the Ephesians have neglected to pray for this class of men?
  • What does Paul mean when he says that God “desires all people to be saved”? What does he not mean? (Consider the doctrine of election/predestination)
  • How does the teaching that there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, complete Paul’s tightly knit argument here in this text?
Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions For Sermon On 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Week Of October 25th, 2020

WEEKLY READINGS
SUNDAY > 2 Kgs 3, 2 Thes 3, Dan 7, Ps 49
MONDAY > 2 Kgs 4, 1 Tim 1, Dan 8, Ps 50
TUESDAY > 2 Kgs 5, 1 Tim 2, Dan 9, Ps 51
WEDNESDAY > 2 Kgs 6, 1 Tim 3, Dan 10, Ps 52‐54
THURSDAY > 2 Kgs 7, 1 Tim 4, Dan 11, Ps 55
FRIDAY > 2 Kgs 8, 1 Tim 5, Dan 12, Ps 56‐57
SATURDAY > 2 Kgs 9, 1 Tim 6, Hos 1, Ps 58‐59

MEMORY VERSE(S)
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2–3, ESV).

CATECHISM QUESTION(S)
Baptist Catechism #41:
Q. 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.

Posted in Weekly Passages, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Week Of October 25th, 2020

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)

*****

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

Week Of October 18th, 2020

WEEKLY READINGS
SUNDAY > 1 Kgs 18, 1 Thes 1, Ezek 48, Ps 39
MONDAY > 1 Kgs 19, 1 Thes 2, Dan 1, Ps 40‐41
TUESDAY > 1 Kgs 20, 1 Thes 3, Dan 2, Ps 42‐43
WEDNESDAY > 1 Kgs 21, 1 Thes 4, Dan 3, Ps 44
THURSDAY > 1 Kgs 22, 1 Thes 5, Dan 4, Ps 45
FRIDAY > 2 Kgs 1, 2 Thes 1, Dan 5, Ps 46‐47
SATURDAY > 2 Kgs 2, 2 Thes 2, Dan 6, Ps 48

MEMORY VERSE(S)
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain… I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21, 23b, ESV).

CATECHISM QUESTION(S)
Baptist Catechism #40:
Q. 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.

Posted in Weekly Passages, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Week Of October 18th, 2020

Discussion Questions For Sermon On 1 Timothy 1:18-20

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AT HOME OR IN GOSPEL COMMUNITY GROUPS

Sermon manuscript available at emmausrbc.org

  • Discuss the difference between the internal and subjective call, and the external and objective call. Why must a man be called to the ministry in both of these ways? 
  • In what way is ministry warfare? Why is it important for a man to realize that ministry is warfare before entering the ministry?
  • What does it mean to hold “faith and a good conscience?” How will failure to do so lead to shipwreck?
  • Discuss possible points of application for 1) ministers, 2) those who desire ministry, 3) members who must appoint a new minister, 4) Christians in general (who must also wage warfare, keep the faith and a clear conscience).

Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions For Sermon On 1 Timothy 1:18-20

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)

*****

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. 

*****

  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.

 *****

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


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that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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