Friday, February 27, 2009


2 Timothy 2:1-8 Pastoral Priorities In A Problem Period


1 You, therefore, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4 To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life.
5 Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
6 It is the hardworking farmer who ought to be the first to get a share of the crops.
7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel.
9 For this I suffer, to the point of being bound like a criminal; but God’s message is not bound.

From the phrase missional to the style of music, the focus tends to be for Pastors to look for the newest "bait" to use in the church today. I am not objecting to "new" ideas or relevance with this point. I am the first to admit that many (not all) of our churches are using 1970 style ministries and they are not doing much. Yet, there is an element that we need to grasp that takes us far beyond the ideas of ministry approach.

Alexander Maclaren said” There is no rosy painting of the Christian life, or of a Christian teacher’s life, as easy or pleasant to flesh and blood. On the contrary, none of Paul’s letters give more emphatic utterance to the fact that suffering is the law of both. That is wise; for the best way to-brace people for difficult work and hardship is to tell them fairly what they will have to face. There is always fascination to large hearted folks or fervent disciples in the thought of danger and toil, undertaken for a beloved cause or favourite pursuit. Boys are made sailors by the stories of wreck and hardship told them to keep them ashore. So Paul encourages’ son Timothy’ by putting before him all the toil and the peril which are the conditions of the work to which he has set his hand.”

There is savagery and brutality enough about the soldiers’ trade to make it remarkable that it should be so constantly chosen to illustrate the life of the servants of the Prince of Peace. But there are grand qualities brought out in warfare, which need but to be transferred to their most worthy object; and for the sake of these, the metaphor is used here.

1. The Power That Sustains

1 You, therefore, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

The present tense marks an abiding and continuing strengthening. be inwardly strengthened;’

We need the Power of God:
This grace in which we are strengthened is the grace of ‘inward sanctification’ (comp. Hooker, Append. to Book V. Vol. ii. p. 696), and betokens that element of spiritual life ‘which enables a man both to will and to do according to what God has commanded,’

A friend wrote me this week and said The power of God was worth more than any style. In fact I discovered that style grew out of God moving not that style brought the move of God. In all the rush to address needs in the lives of people I wonder if we have forgotten that the Gospel itself is the power of God? He reflected on some of the old great names in Baptist life that we had listened to and appreciated, he said

“The challenge was actually simple... seek God, live holy, share Jesus and watch what God would do. These men modelled this in their ministries and the fruit was obvious. It was not too difficult to see that when a man allowed God to have total control (he was surrendered to God) that God would bless in ways that we as mere humans cannot begin to imagine. Have we moved so far into the "how to's" that we have left the power of God out?” Not every church will be large. But I do believe that every church can and should see people being saved regularly. Every church does not have to look like others. Each church is unique. We have two styles at our church and God moves in both. The style or music has little to do with His moving. Maybe this is part of problem - we are trying to copy others or think that only one approach will work. Yet when God is in control and His power is flowing, He will draw people to himself. His power is far more than any style, approach or method. Its about holiness in your relationship with the Lord. And the power of that holiness flowing through and touching others lives.

This grace ‘which is in Christ Jesus,’ which is only and truly centered in Him, and of which He is the mediator to all who are in fellowship and union with Him;

Observe that personal strength in the grace of Christ precedes importance as in time the transmission of the Apostolic deposit of faith.

2. The Programme That Succeeds

Legend Angel Gabriel... "And how are the people of the world to know about it?"

Lord: "I have a small band.." Gabriel: "And what if they fail?" Lord: "I have no other plan."

2 And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Jesus said that his purpose for coming into the world was to reconcile persons to the Father and to make it possible for every person to experience the abundant life. He knew that this mission would not be accomplished in his lifetime and that its success would depend on what his followers did after him. Therefore, Jesus concentrated his ministry on calling out and training a group of disciples.
The disciples were a group of individuals committed to following Christ, to learning of him, and to becoming like him. At the end of this ministry, Jesus sent these disciples out with a twofold commission: to continue his mission of reconciling every person to the Father and to make disciples who in turn would make yet other disciples.
As one who has responded to Christ’s call to discipleship, you not only are sent by Christ to reconcile persons to the Father; you also are commissioned to make disciples. But you ask: What does that mean? How does discipling take place? What is my role as a discipler? Who am I responsible for discipling?
Jesus ministered to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. In whatever context he found himself, he spoke openly of the meaning and the demands of discipleship and challenged people from all walks of life to follow him. These were spontaneous occasions on which persons were challenged and were called simply because they happened to be there. But Christ also had more intimate relationship and entrusted his vision to an ever more select group.
Christ invested most of his time in the twelve. It was to these that he gave himself most completely. It was to these that he spoke most openly and urgently about his mission. Jesus spent more and more time with the twelve as he approached his death. He had chosen these twelve with two objectives in mind—(1) that they should be with him and (2) that he might send them forth (Mark 3:14). When Jesus selected these twelve to change the world, he chose them carefully. Then he invested his life in training these persons who would not only continue to carry out his mission but also would multiply his presence in the world by making other disciples.
How Does Discipling Take Place?
There are three different types of discipling.
1. Spontaneous discipling. You assist persons in their discipleship growth simply because circumstances have brought you together and provide you with the opportunity to fill the servant role of discipler. Remember that regardless of the context, Christ spoke openly of the meaning and demands of discipleship and challenged people from all walks of life to follow him. You should be sensitive to your opportunity and your responsibility to minister to the growth needs of other disciples.
2. Sequential discipling. A planned discipling process is usually sequenced according to the developmental growth processes of a person. MasterLife, or Navigators is an example of sequential discipling. Sequential discipling may be done in a group or in a one-to-one relationship. In either case, you try to help those you are discipling to reach specific goals and a level of maturity or proficiency as a disciple. Some one-to- one approaches vary the sequence to fit the responses of each individual, but the same goals are to be reached during the process. The distinguishing mark is that a minimum standard of discipleship is considered as the objective and a logical process is used to achieve it.
3. Apprenticeship discipling. An apprentice learns skills, behaviour, knowledge, and attitudes from one who is recognized as an expert in a certain area. Apprenticeship discipling occurs when a person who has expertise in a certain area, such as teaching, leading, preaching, evangelism, ministry, and so on, gives another person on-the-job training in that area. Discipleship is learned in addition to the expertise imparted.
How to Enlist Disciples
1. Love them
. Jesus so loved his disciples that they gladly followed him. It is evident how much he loved them by his prayer of John 17. As you love people, many will respond to you. As you take a personal interest in them and their needs, they will be drawn to you and to Christ in you. When you genuinely love people and put their interests first, they will begin to return that love. A loving relationship in Christ is the base from which all discipling begins.
2. Serve them. Service grows out of love and is the physical manifestation of it. Jesus served his disciples——even to washing their feet. Serving others models the proper relationship. Do not demand that others serve you. The Gentiles do that. The Pharisees did that and attracted proselytes. Servants attract disciples who will serve others.

3. Have something in your life that they need. No person becomes a disciple unless he has seen evidence that the discipler has qualities that he wants but does not have.

a. Founded in Christ. Persons want a close relationship with Christ and are attracted to someone who puts Christ first, whose life revolves around Christ, and who is guided by Christ and empowered by him.
b. Personhood. Persons want to become whole, well-adjusted persons who have strength of character, and they are attracted to someone who “has it all together.”
c. Life message. Persons want to follow someone who lives what he professes daily, who stands for something, and who is willing to put his life on the line for what he believes.
d. Ministry. Persons want to have a satisfying ministry and are attracted by people who do and who can show them how to do the same.
e. Home. Persons want a harmonious home; and when they see someone using such a home as a base for ministry, they get excited. Your home is the ultimate test. They usually check you out here before they fully commit themselves to being a disciple.
f. Daily work. Persons want to integrate their spiritual lives with their secular lives. The example of someone who does so appeals to them.
If you are sensitive, you will discover that many times a disciple will choose you rather than your choosing him. He will ask questions and advice. You should respond to his needs and minister to them, If he continues to be interested, invite him to come with you as you witness or minister. This will form a relationship in which you may ask, “Would you like to spend some time each week studying together about being a disciple or learning this ministry?” or, “Would you like to step up our relationship in exploring discipleship and ministry?”
4. Lead someone to Christ. This is the most natural discipling relationship. Continue to disciple the person you lead to Christ until you see the traits of a multiplying disciple develop in him.
5. Recruit to a vision. When you talk to a person about discipleship training for leaders, recruit to a vision rather than to a program or an organization. Disciples need to be motivated by the Master and his vision. The program or process is the means to the end. It is like a train that takes you from one point to another point in the journey of life. People want to give their lives to something that is worthwhile and ultimate. Only God and his kingdom offer the ultimate commitment. Share the vision God has given you for having a part in his divine plan. Give them opportunities to catch your vision as you serve together. (from MasterLife)

3. The Problems That Strain



Eph 6:10 ¶ Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

Dr Alexander Maclaren "In Paul's time there were no standing armies, but men were summoned from their ordinary avocations and sent into the field. When the hasty call came forth, the plough was left in the furrow, the web in the loom; the bridegroom hurried from his bride, the mourner from the graveside. All home industries were paralyzed as the manhood of the nation took to the field of battle."

The Christian soldier must Focus...> giving up certain interests, habits friends, amusements. not because they are wrong, but because they are distracting entanglements. He will not criticize other believer's whom the Lord may not have called to give up this or that. It's the thing that entangles you.. before the Lord, that must be stopped.

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Concentrate On Whom You Please

4 To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life.
I was once tempted not to go and see a man about his sin.. "You won't be very popular!" "Depends who I want ot be popular with. Popular..down here or up there?"

2Co 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.

18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Concentrate on How You Push On

5 Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
The runner in a marathon has no choice but to finish. If he doesn’t finish he is out of the game. He has to keep the rules and do it all right. The same is true of the discipler. He ahs to keep on keeping on.; his or her own life has to model the communion with the Lord that he desires for others. He has to model a Christian outlook.

Concentrate on Working Hard

6 It is the hardworking farmer who ought to be the first to get a share of the crops.
The hardworking farmer: If you have seen a farmer who does not work hard you know he is broke.

Farming is hard work, dawn till dusk, in times when you’d rather not work you have to. As the need requires. You have to stick at it. The same is true with discipling others. You are on call to them. It isn’t going to stop. You’ll have to keep to it.

4. The Person That Supports

Charles Stanley impresses me.. endured a great hardship.. "How can I expect to have the relationship with the Lord that these guys have without their trials?

8 Keep in mind Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel.
9 For this I suffer, to the point of being bound like a criminal; but God’s message is not bound.

How not to get despondent.

Here is a tremendous encouragement to live and serve right.

Alexander MacLaren puts it like this.

Rather than give a man a principle to live by, Paul sets forth a Person who cares. How entirely different a thing it is to give a poor, feeble, solitary man a living, loving Lord to serve and to please, and to set him down before a cold, impersonal ‘ideal’; and say to him, ‘There! live up to that, or it will be the worse for you.’ The gospel sets forth Jesus Christ as the Pattern and Law of duty, in whom all the statuesque purity of the marble is changed into the warm, breathing flesh and blood of a brother. It sets Him forth as the power for duty, who stoops down from His height to reach forth a helping hand to us poor strugglers in the bogs at the mountain’s foot, while Law but looks on with pure and icy eyes at our flounderings, and counts the splashes on our dress. It sets Him forth as the Motive for duty, who draws us to what is right by ‘the cords of love and the bands of a man,’ while the world’s morality knows only how to appeal either to low motives of whips and pay, or to fine-spun considerations of right and obligation that melt like October’s morning ice before the faintest heat of temptation. Finally, it sets Him forth as the Reward of obedience, teaching us that the true recompense of well-doing lies in pleasing Him, and that to win a smile, an ‘honourable mention,’ from the General, life itself would be wisely paid. Such are the great characteristics of Christian morality. Everything clusters round a living Person. All the coldness and remoteness and powerlessness which incurably weaken all law, whether it be that of a statute-book, or of conscience, or of moralists, are changed into their very opposites. Christ is duty; Love is law. Christ is power; Christ is impulse. Christ is motive; Christ is reward.


Matthew 4:12-25 The Saviour’s Passion for People

When He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee.
He left Nazareth behind and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.
1. The Saviour’s Passion Brought Him to Galilee
V.13 says, “leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum.” This was Matthew’s hometown. Some say the population of the cities around “the sea’ was 2 million at this time.
In the region around the sea te population was about 3.5 million people.
204 villages of more than 15,000 people -Josephus (governor of Galilee)
Matt 4:14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the sea road, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! 16 The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.

One of the most helpful and beautiful metaphors for Jesus Christ is that He is the Light of the World. John was the gospel writer who most emphasized the fact that Jesus is the light of the world. John 1:4-5 (NKJV) “4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John then tells us that John the Baptist’s primary purpose was to bear witness to that light. John 1:8-9 (NKJV) “8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” Jesus even compared Himself to light. John 8:12 (NKJV) “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’” In the Old Testament, light was an illustration of righteousness and a life of obedience. An example would be Proverbs 4:18-19 (ESV) “18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. 19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” As Matthew introduces us to the public ministry of the King, he quotes another passage from the Old Testament referencing light. Verses 15 and 16 in our text are a quote from Isaiah 9:1-2. Again, Matthew, writing primarily to the Jews, shows them that the whole Old Testament was pointing to Jesus! He is the ultimate manifestation of the light of the Old Testament prophesies. He is perfect righteousness; He is the truth personified; He is the light! He is not just the light of the Jews but as John 1:9 says He is the One who gives light to every man coming into the world

Jesus seems to have deliberately fulfilled and kept a promise of the Old Testament: in this case, about where He would live. He moved to Galilee because the Old Testament described Him as living there. Why? Well, what we find is that the quotation from Isaiah 9, which starts in verse 15, describes the way to Galilee of the Gentiles’ - that is the province of the foreigners. In other words an international region. It was a place pf trade on the gateway to the Arab world and the gateway to the Babylonian world and the gateway to the Mediterranean.

The Galileans were not highly thought of. They would be sort of like how the world looks at farming today – hillbillies or hayseeds. In the Old Testament it was sometimes called Galilee of the Gentiles. Being on the Northern border of Israel and a crossroad’s town, there were many non Jews who lived in Galilee. That is another reason that the Jewish leaders looked down on any one from Galilee. When Nicodemas tried to get the Pharisees to listen to Jesus, they responded in John 7:51-52 (NKJV) “51 ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’ 52 They answered and said to him, ‘Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.’” When Jesus started His ministry in Galilee instead of Jerusalem, He was fulfilling a prophesy given some 800 years earlier by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:1-2 and quoted in verses 15 & 16. The beginning of His ministry in Galilee of the Gentiles is evidence of the fact that He didn’t come just as King of the Jews but as the King of all nations.

Do you see that the condition of the nations of this world is described as living in darkness’? - the darkness of delusion and confusion; the darkness of depravity and corruption; the darkness of depression and sadness; and ultimately the darkness of death and bereavement.
Of course, life in this world is not always so miserable: we enjoy times of great joy and comfort and success, from time to time. But all of us will all know during our lifetimes (and perhaps some of us have already tasted) that bitter taste of deep darkness within our souls. That darkness of delusion and confusion is evident in the spirit of confusion of our culture. It seems to me that most people around seem confused by the endless religious options which appear to be the evolving mythologies and spiritual ideologies of different cultures of our planet-which are just developing and evolvingto answer the deep questions about life and eternity that we all face. And it’s very confusing.
The Galileans certainly “sat in darkness.” They lived in “the region and the shadow of death.” They did not have the biblical education of the Judeans. Most of them were simple working class people.
But into this darkness of confusion God sent Jesus to bring the light of revelation to light up the way to God. The “great light” had “dawned” in Galilee. John 1:4-5 says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness.” Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Jesus was sent by God to bring light into this darkness of our depravity. He came to bring complete forgiveness for all the wrong that we’ve done and thought and said.
In the Blue Arrow Café in Tasmania a gunman came charging in with a shotgun and started shooting people in the café. New Zealander, Jason Wheatley, a winegrower, was there with his wife and his young baby, and instinctively he threw himself across the body of his wife and child and tumbled down to the ground on top of them. Of course, he was shot and they survived, It was an act of instinctive love and self-sacrifice. He did it because he loved them. And Jesus Christ loves you and me, and He threw Himself across us and on the cross. He was shot to bits, and we don’t have to be - because He loves us.
W.H. Auden, Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephones; prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone. Silence the pianos and with muffled drum bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.’ You remember that, don’t you? - from Four Weddings and a Funeral. We live in the land of the shadow of death, but Jesus Christ was sent by God into the darkness in which we all live, as a light. He not only died in our place on the cross, He came to life again - to open the way into an eternity with God in heaven. As a light to our darkness, He brought life to people who will one day die.

2. The Saviour’s Passion Caught Him Some Galileans
As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his
brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.
19 “Follow Me,” He told them, and I will make you fish for people!”
20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them.
22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.

One day after arriving in Capernaum, Jesus was “walking by the Sea of Galilee.” The “Sea of Galilee’ is some 8 miles wide and 13 miles long. It rests 700 feet below sea level. Josephus said in the first century there were some 240 commercial fishing boats in operation.
As Jesus walked, He saw “two brothers, Simon... and Andrew his brother.” According to John 1, He had already met them from among John the Baptist’s disciples. No doubt, they recognized each other. Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist, and when John pointed out Jesus in John 1:29 as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Andrew went and got his brother Peter and introduced him to Jesus.

Jesus said, “Follow Me,

The call of these disciples was to follow Jesus. What does that mean?

They responded “immediately.” They “left their nets” and they “follow” Him. Dale Bruner explains that “Follow me” meant in rabbinic speech, “become my students, be apprenticed to me, join my school, live with me.” Students lived with their rabbis; they did not merely hear their lectures. Discipleship was study-in-residence; it was a live-in arrangement in a home and with a teacher. “The unusual feature in Jesus’ enrollment, however, is that Jesus asks the students to join him. Ordinarily, students came asking for the privilege of studying (and living) with the rabbi. But Jesus is no ordinary rabbi.”
I believe that it is the call He is still making to disciples. Jesus calls you to follow Him.

Following Jesus involves these 5 things:

1. Repentance – You cannot follow Him when you are going away from Him. Repentance as we saw earlier means to change your perspective and mindset and then reflect that change in your behavior. To follow Jesus is a whole new perspective on life. He is now Lord in every area. It is no longer my life, my rights, my plans, my ambitions and goals; it is Him!

2. Obedience – To follow Jesus is to obey Him as Lord and master. In John 10, Jesus said that His sheep follow Him. John 10:27 (NKJV) “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” It is obvious that here following Him involves a life of obedience. Obedience doesn’t make us His sheep; obedience reveals that we are His sheep.

3. Submission – In Matthew 11 Jesus uses the picture of putting on a yoke to symbolize submission. Submit comes from the Latin words “sub” which means under, and “mitto” that means to put or place. To submit is to put oneself under the authority of another. We are yoked to Jesus under His authority and with Jesus so we have His enabling power to obey all He tells us to do.

4. Trust – It is impossible to follow someone you don’t trust. To follow Christ assumes that I have a complete trust in His ways and His motives and His ability.

5. Perseverance – Following is a continuing act, not a one time event. Following Jesus is a lifetime commitment that never must fade or diminish. We follow until we leave this earth and the race is finished and the course is run. In the call to Peter and Andrew we see the heart of Christ and the task to which they were called. They were called to become fishers of men. That obviously communicated well with these fishermen. The picture is of mankind swimming in a sea of sin and condemnation and those who follow Jesus cast the net and rescue them from a hopeless eternity. It is so easy to lose sight of that purpose of our calling

Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

‘Remarkable as it may seem,’ says Robert Coleman in his classic study of Jesus’ evangelistic methods, ‘Jesus started to gather these men before he ever organized an evangelistic campaign or even preached a sermon in public. . . . These few early converts of the Lord were destined to become the leaders of his church that was to go with the Gospel to the whole world.. . .‘ (The Master Plan of Evangelism [Old Tappan, Fleming H. Revell, 1964], pp. 21-22). He summoned ordinary working people as his disciples, bringing them into a team relationship with himself and one another, and training them on the job by personal example and practical experience.
Jesus didn’t let the demands of ministry to vast crowds prevent the training of his disciples. He concentrated on a few while not neglecting the many. Coleman remarks, ‘Jesus was a realist. . . . Though he did what he could to help the multitudes, he had to devote himself primarily to a few men, rather than the masses, in order that the masses could at last be saved. This was the genius of his strategy. . . .‘ (pp. 33-34). Where many leaders are mesmerized by numbers and diverted by popularity, Jesus recognized the strategic importance of shaping a few key followers with his personal values and lifestyle.
In what could be called a strategy of association, Jesus’ taught disciples through a living interaction with himself. His teaching method was informal, relational, life-related. ‘Jesus had no formal school, no seminaries, no outlined course of study, no periodic membership classes in which he enrolled his followers. Knowledge was gained by association before it was understood by explanation.’ (Coleman, pp. 38-39). He used a ‘Come and see’ (John 1:39) or ‘Come follow me’ (Mark 1:17) method of learning.
Coleman remarks, ‘The time which Jesus invested in these few disciples was so much more by comparison to that given to others that it can only be regarded as a deliberate strategy. He actually spent more time with his disciples than with everybody else in the world put together. He ate with them, slept with them, and talked with them for the most part of his entire active ministry. They walked together along the lonely roads; they visited together in the crowded cities; they sailed and fished together in the Sea of Galilee; they prayed together in the deserts and in the mountains; and they worshipped together in the synagogues and in the temple.... Even while Jesus was ministering to others, the disciples were always there with him.. . . Without neglecting his regular ministry to those in need, he maintained a constant ministry to his disciples by having them with him.’ (pp.42-43).
From being leader of a small group of a dozen followers in an obscure province on the eastern border of the Roman Empire, the movement Jesus founded now comprises, two millennia later, one third of the world’s population (1,995,000,000 out of a total world population of 5,892,000,000 in mid-1997, according to Christian researcher David Barrett’s ‘Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1997,’ International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 1997, pp. 24-25).
What was the key to this astonishing success? It was Jesus’ personal method of disciple-making. Modern evangelists, like so many modern political leaders or leaders of contemporary popular culture, prefer mass methods, often despising personal or friendship evangelism as slow and inefficient. In fact, Jesus’ preferred strategy of discipling a few to reach the many is demonstrably much more effective in the long run. It is the difference between addition and multiplication, as Dr. Howard Hendrix, Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Seminary, and Dr. James Kennedy, founder of Evangelism Explosion, have pointed out by contrasting the two methods:
Assume that a modern mass evangelist preaches to 100,000 per day, with a 4% rate of conversion (double that of Billy Graham) and works a superhuman 365 days a year. After 1 year there will be 1,460,000 converts, and so on annually until after 16 years there will be 23,360,000 converts (slightly more than the combined population of Australia and New Zealand).
By contrast, using Jesus’ method of personal discipling, we can modestly assume that 1 person makes 1 disciple each 6 months, and teaches each successive disciple to do same. After 1 year there will be 4 disciples, after 2 years 16, after 5 years over 1 thousand, after 10 years over 1 million, after 15 years over 1 billion, and after about 161/2 years the present world population of just under 6 billion would be discipled.

Jesus calls us all to evangelism.

Remember that there were more than 200 villages in Galilee. Jesus went village to village teaching and preaching. Jesus could deliver the gospel by Himself. However, He wants to share the joy and reward of that task with us. Jesus calls us all to evangelism. You may not be a “Billy Graham” but you can tell others what Jesus has done for you. 1 Pet.2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In a small church during the summer, a pastor was preaching with gusto. Due to the warmth of the evening, the windows were open and bugs of all sizes were attracted to the sanctuary lights. As the pastor was making an energetic point, a large moth flew into his open mouth. The congregation was silent, awaiting some reply after the ingestion of the fluttering creature. After some coughing and throat clearing he responded, “Ladies and gentlemen, with some difficulty, a moth has entered the ministry.’

'To those who knotted nets of twine to comb a fish-filled sea,
Christ called aloud: Put down that line and come and follow me!’
Accustomed to the tug of rope ensnared in rocks and weeds,
they felt from Christ a pull of hope, amidst their tangled needs.
They left their boats, their sails and oars, but even more than these,
they left the lake’s encircling shores, and its familiar breeze.
They braved the tyrant’s brutal blast and hate’s unbounded rage,
while rescue lines of faith they cast to save their sinking age.
0 Christ, who called beside the sea, still call to us today,
Like those who fished in Galilee, we’ll risk your storm-swept way.’

“In simple trust like theirs who heard, Beside the Syrian sea, The gracious calling of the Lord, Let us, like them, without a word, Rise up and follow Thee.”

3. The Saviour’s Passion Taught Them Some Gospel
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!”
23 Jesus was going all over Galilee, teaching in their • synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
24 Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And He healed them.
25 Large crowds followed Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
Jesus “began to preach.” Preaching was the central part of Jesus’ ministry and should be the highlight of our ministry. Biblical preaching is empowered by God.
The word “preach” simply means “to proclaim, publish or make known.’ Preaching is not the sole prerogative of the pastor. Every believer is to proclaim the word of the Lord.
Jesus preached like no other man. Mat.7:29 says, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” He preached what the Father told Him. He said in John 12:49, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak”
R.C.H. Lenski wrote: The point to be noted is that to preach is not to argue, reason, dispute, or convince by intellectual proof against all of which a keen intellect may bring counter argument. We simply state in public or testify to all men the truth which God bids us state. No argument can assail the truth presented in this announcement or testimony. Men either believe the truth, as all sane men should, or refuse to believe it, as only fools venture to do’ (MacArthur, p.108).

Jesus preached that people should repent.” The word means ‘to change”. It means to recognize the wrongness of our sins and turn to God. John had taught repentance. Matthew 3:1-2 (NKJV) “1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” He just picked up where the one preparing His way left off.

“Repent” – Repentance is a radical turning from sin, first in one’s mind and perception of sin. That change of perception always results in a change in behavior. I pray that the Lord would enable us to see the sinfulness of sin. I pray that seeing it we would hate it not because of what it does to us or the blessings it robs us of, but to hate it because of the holiness and greatness of the One it is against.

They were to repent because “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Messiah was on the scene. Jesus was ready to rule their hearts! The Kingdom of Heaven – Kingdom means reign, rule, and authority. The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God refers to His rule, reign, and authority. Because God the Son was at hand, wherever He went, the kingdom was at hand. Even though there will be an earthly manifestation of a physical kingdom one day, anytime, anywhere a person repents of sin and in humility places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, they have the Kingdom of God within them and they have become a Kingdom citizen with a new citizenship. Philippians 3:20 (NKJV) says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. From Matthew 4:17-16:20, this is the main message of the King to those in the world.

Let me ask you a question. Are you following Jesus? Have you come in repentance, obedience, submission, trust, and are you continuing with perseverance to follow Him in spite of the cost? Jesus isn’t calling the crowds; He is calling those who will deny self, take up their cross and follow Him. Will you like Andrew, Peter, James, and John leave all and immediately follow Him?



August 23-30

Barry Cosper and several supporting evangelists and musicians are coming from the USA to assist our churches in one great week of Evangelism.

Each team of two (an evangelist and a soloist) will spend half a week in two churches (Sunday to Wednesday, Thursday to Sunday August 23-30 2009).

The churches that will participate in ONE GREAT WEEK are Villawood Baptist Church, Scone Baptist Church, Port Macquarrie Baptist Church, Belmont Baptist Church, Ballina Baptists, Newcastle Baptist Tabernacle.

Barry Cosper is a pastoral evangelist and Director of Missions with the Alabama State Convention of the Southern Baptist Convention.

His skilled team have conducted ONE GREAT WEEKS throughout Russia resulting in the planting of many churches.

Why not join in with a ONE GREAT WEEK CRUSADE in your area!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


2 Timothy 1“Guard The Gospel”


2 Timothy 1: 8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.
15 This you know: all those in  Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.
18 May the Lord grant that he obtain mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know how much he ministered at Ephesus.

The Legacy

Story of Drake’s snuffbox. The passing along of a legacy. The snuffbox symbolised for me the faith courage and valour of a Christian gentleman.

But then I discovered something more.

It was not the snuffbox that made Drake great. It was his personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“O Lord God, when Thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same, until it is thoroughly finished that yieldeth the true glory.”

“Disturb us Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our deams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.”

It’s a legacy of truth.

And it’s a legacy Paul tells us, and God tells us, must be passed on.

The Gospel was under attack.

The Asian church had lost it.

15 This you know: all those in  Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
Perhaps the problem was the distress the church was under. The Neronian persecution had begun.

If the people didn’t burn incense to Nero as God they would be killed.

Tacitus 64 AD

But all human efforts, all the emperor's gifts and propitiations of the gods, were not enough to remove the scandal or banish the belief that the fire [summer, 64 C.E.] had been ordered. And so, to get rid of this rumor Nero set up as culprits and punished with the utmost cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for the moment this pernicious superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, the place where everything that is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe finds a following. Thus those who confessed (i.e.. to being Christians) were first arrested, then on evidence from them a large multitude was convicted, not so much for the charge of arson as for their hatred of the human race. Besides being put to death they were made objects of amusement; they were clothed in hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others were set on fire to illuminate the night after sunset. Nero threw open his grounds for the display and put on a show at the circus where he mingled with the people dressed like a charioteer and driving about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, evens towards these men who deserved the most exemplary punishment since it was felt they were being killed, not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.

Suetonius AD 64

In his reign many abuses were severely punished and repressed, and as many new laws were instituted; a limit was set upon spending; public banquets were reduced; the sale of cooked food in taverns was forbidden, except for vegetables and greens, while formerly every kind of food was available; punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a set of men adhering to a novel and mischievous superstition; he put a stop to the wild activities of the charioteers, who for a long time had assumed the right of ranging at large and cheating and robbing for amusement; the actors and their companies were banished.

To divert from himself the general suspicion of incendiarism, and at the same time to furnish new entertainment for his diabolical cruelty, Nero wickedly cast the blame upon the hated Christians, who, meanwhile, especially since the public trial of Paul and his successful labors in Rome, had come to be distinguished from the Jews as a genus tertium, or as the most dangerous offshoot from that race. They were certainly despisers of the Roman gods and loyal subjects of a higher king than Caesar, and they were falsely suspected of secret crimes. The police and people, under the influence of the panic created by the awful calamity, were ready to believe the worst slanders, and demanded victims. What could be expected of the ignorant multitude, when even such cultivated Romans as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, stigmatized Christianity as a vulgar and pestiferous superstition. It appeared to them even worse than Judaism, which was at least an ancient national religion, while Christianity was novel, detached from any particular nationality, and aiming at universal dominion. Some Christians were arrested, confessed their faith, and were "convicted not so much," says Tacitus, "of the crime of incendiarism as of hating the human race." Their Jewish origin, their indifference to politics and public affairs, their abhorrence of heathen customs, were construed into an "odium generis humani," and this made an attempt on their part to destroy the city sufficiently plausible to justify a verdict of guilty. An infuriated mob does not stop to reason, and is as apt to run mad as an individual.

Under this wanton charge of incendiarism, backed by the equally groundless charge of misanthropy and unnatural vice, there began a carnival of blood such as even heathen Rome never saw before or since.523  It was the answer of the powers of hell to the mighty preaching of the two chief apostles, which had shaken heathenism to its centre. A "vast multitude" of Christians was put to death in the most shocking manner. Some were crucified, probably in mockery of the punishment of Christ,524 some sewed up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the voracity of mad dogs in the arena. The satanic tragedy reached its climax at night in the imperial gardens on the slope of the Vatican (which embraced, it is supposed, the present site of the place and church of St. Peter): Christian men and women, covered with pitch or oil or resin, and nailed to posts of pine, were lighted and burned as torches for the amusement of the mob; while Nero, in fantastical dress, figured in a horse race, and displayed his art as charioteer. Burning alive was the ordinary punishment of incendiaries; but only the cruel ingenuity of this imperial monster, under the inspiration of the devil, could invent such a horrible system of illumination.

That is exactly what the apostle is experiencing here. In the words of Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, professor of classics at the University of New Zealand "Of all the centuries, the twentieth is most like the first." It is evident that you and I are living through similar times to what Paul and Timothy are facing here. Even the Christian community is turning away from Christian standards, morals and ethics. Divorce is epidemic among Christians, who ought to be manifesting the ability of the Spirit of God to keep a family united in love and grace and growing in truth and righteousness. Instead, Christians are succumbing to the ways of the world around. Immorality is rife among us; famous names are turning away and forsaking Christian standards. That is what Paul and Timothy were facing.

Verse 15..

Was it Distraction.. something better to do.

Was It Defection? Killing the gospel with entertainment as the methoid of conversion.

Was it Defeatism? Disillusioned and depressed they just gave up?

How Do You Guard the gospel?

1. By The Indwelling Spirit

14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.
"Guard by means of the indwelling Spirit the good deposit," is what Paul wrote. The "good deposit" is the gospel, or the Scripture of truth. Though the word truth does not actually appear in this verse, it is not inaccurate to render it as this version has, "guard the truth by means of the Spirit."

The apostle’s own career of gospel-work was virtually over. For 30 years or so he had faithfully preached the good news, planted churches, defended the truth and consolidated the work. Truly, he had ‘fought the good fight,.. . finished the race,. . . kept the faith’ (a Tim. 4:7). Now nothing awaited him but the victor’s wreath at the winning post. A prisoner now, he would be a martyr soon.

But what would happen to the gospel when he was dead and gone? The emperor Nero, bent on suppressing all secret societies, and misunderstanding the nature of the Christian church, seemed determined to destroy it. Heretics appeared to be on the increase. There had recently been an almost total Asian apostasy from Paul’s teaching (a Tim.I : ii). Bishop Moule goes so far as to write that ‘Christianity. . . trembled, humanly speaking, on the verge of annihilation’.1 Who, then, would do battle for the truth when Paul had laid down his life? This was the question which dominated and vexed his mind as he lay in chains, and to which in this letter he addressed himself. Already in his first letter he had pleaded with Timothy to keep safe the deposit: ‘0 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you’ (x Tim. 6:ao). But since then the situation had worsened. So the apostle’s appeal became more urgent. He reminded Timothy that the precious gospel was now committed to him, and that it was now his turn to assume responsibility for it, to preach and teach it, to defend it against attack and against falsification, and to ensure its accurate transmission to the generations yet to come. In each chapter Paul returned to the same basic concern, or some aspect of it.

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

2. By Proclaiming it

11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Notice that what they are called both to preach and to teach is the gospel. It is fashionable in theological circles to distinguish sharply between the kirygma (what was preached) and the didache (what was taught), the kirygma being essentially the good news of Christ crucified and risen, with the summons to repent and believe, the didache being largely ethical instruction to converts. The distinction is useful, but can be overpressed. It is safe only if we remember how much they overlapped. There was a lot of didachi in the kirygma and a lot of kirygma in the didache: And, moreover, both concerned the gospel, for the kirygma was the proclamation of its essence, while the didache included the great doctrines which undergird it as well as the moral behaviour which follows from it.

The reference to ‘witness’ in verse 8, which we have already considered, adds a fourth word to this list. It reminds us that, although there are no apostles today, and although only some are called to the ministry of preaching and teaching, every Christian believer is to be a witness and to testi1 to Jesus Christ out of his own personal experience.

Leaving aside for the moment the second part of verse x 2, we come to Paul’s double exhortation to Timothy in the next two verses: ‘Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me’ (i ); ‘Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you’ (14). Here Paul refers to the gospel, the apostolic faith, by two expressions. It is both a pattern of sound words (13) and a precious deposit (it).

‘Sound’ words are ‘healthy’ words, the Greek expression being used in the Gospels of people whom Jesus healed. Previously they had been maimed or diseased; now they were well or ‘whole’. So the Christian faith is ‘the sound teaching’ (4:3), consisting of ‘sound words’, because it is not maimed or diseased but ‘whole’. It is what Paul had previously called, ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20: 27).

Further, these ‘sound words’ had been given by Paul to Timothy in a ‘pattern’. Here the Greek word is hypotyposis. NEB translates it ‘outline’, and Dr. Guthrie says it ‘means an outline sketch such as an architect might make before getting down to the detailed plans of a building’.’ In this case Paul is implying that Timothy must amplify, expound and apply the apostle’s teaching. The context, especially the parallel with the next verse, seems to me to make this an unlikely explanation. The only other occurrence of hypotypasis in the New Testament is in Paul’s first letter to Timothy where he describes himself, the object of Christ’s amazing mercy and perfect patience, as ‘an example to those who were to believe in him’ (i: i 6). Arndt and Gingrich, who give ‘model’ or ‘example’ as the usual translation, suggest that it is used ‘rather in the sense prototype’ in i Timothy i a 6 and ‘rather in the sense standard’ in z Timothy i : 13.

"It is not enough to be evangelical. We must be evangelistic. The evangelical church is a reservoir of pure water without a pipe running anywhere. If you will take the trouble to go to it and climb the embankment, you will get a good drink. The evangelistic church is a reservoir of pure water with a pipe to every heart in the community, and every nation in the world. Evangelical may mean truth on ice; evangelistic means truth on fire. Evangelical may be bomb-proof for defense; evangelistic means an army on the march with every face towards the enemy. Evangelical sings, 'Hold the fort, for I am coming'; evangelistic sings, 'Storm the fort, for God is leadin.' The need of the Church is not evangelicalism as a thing to fight for, but evangelism as a force to fight with. The evangelical creed merely held and defended becomes a fossil, only a thing of interest.

3. By Suffering For it

2 Timothy 1: 8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

If you were to walk the aisles of any pharmacy you'd find that one of their most popular products is pain killers. They have shelves that are literally packed with packets of panedine, Panadol, Aspro etc etc.

We spend billions alleviating our hurts every year. This is because none of us want to hurt....everyone wants to live a pain-free life. Comfort is very important in our society.

Unfortunately this is often true when it comes to the Christian walk. Many people want to follow Christ but only as long as it is comfortable to do so. Theologian, J. J. PACKER writes, "The other I sat in the hot tub savoring the warmth...adjusting to the feel of being bubbled over from all angles, struck me that the hot tub is the perfect symbol of the modern route to religion. The hot tub experience is sensuous, relaxing, floppy, laid-back: not in any way demanding...but very, very nice, even to the point of being great fun. Many today want Christianity to be like that and labor to make it so."

Paul encourages us not to embrace a life of ease and pain-free comfort but rather to "JOIN him in his sufferings." This is not because Jesus wants us to suffer. He is not some cruel drill Sergeant who delights in making life tough for His recruits. No, suffering is inevitable for Christians because we live in an imperfect world that is hostile to the One we follow. Joe Stowell, President of Moody Bible Institute writes, "Jesus' rejection, alienation, and ultimately His crucifixion...were the direct result of the fact that Christ came to do His work in alien territory that was dead set against His success."

In JOHN 15, Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.....if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also."

History has shown just how true Jesus' words are. Remember, all but one of the first 12 disciples suffered a martyr's death and the other, JOHN, died of old age in exile on the Isle of Patmos because of his commitment to Jesus. During the years when Christianity was just getting started those who chose to follow Christ encountered unbelievable persecution for their faith. And that kind of persecution continues even in our day and age. II TIMOTHY 3:12 says, "...EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..."

When cling to our faith in Him in spite of persecution we give irrefutable proof that we believe knowing Christ is WORTH our suffering. We show the world that we are honored to follow Him-no matter what the cost. I PETER 4:16 says, "If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear HIS NAME." Our willingness to suffer for our faith indicates to a watching world that we are proud to be called CHRISTIAN.

History shows that the times that the church grew the fastest were also times when Christians were most persecuted. In spite of years of persecution the church in China is huge and still growing. The church in Sudan is the fastest growing in any Muslim country. The blood of Martyrs often IS the seed of the church. Joe Stowell tells the story or Ivan Minailo, a pastor in the former Soviet Union. During the Stalin era, Ivan was approached by the KGB and asked to become an informer. At the time Ivan was shepherding five rural churches. The government promised him a life of prosperity and ease and a bright future if he would only report to them every week about what was happening in his churches and what the people were doing. It would be a great deal for Ivan; he could continue to pastor and secure the future of his family, and now one would know.

Well Ivan refused and as a result was sent to prison in Siberia with 1500 other political and religious prisoners. When he arrived he and other groups of prisoners were formed into work details to help build the towns of Stalin's regime. Ivan was a carpenter by trade....a very skilled craftsman. And everywhere he went he and his fellow believers shared their faith and established cell groups of believers in all those remote villages. Because of this, today there are many, many churches all over Siberia that proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ----a direct result of those prisoner groups that helped build those towns throughout Siberia.

4. By Standing By It.

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The 5000 Japanese martyrs who stood for Christ.

Athenasius against the world Latimer, Ridly and Cranmer.

By contrast, there was one man from Asia, Onesiphorus, whom Paul describes as having found a

way to "guard the truth" in his day. Here is what Paul says about him (Verses 16-18):

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was

not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found

me -- may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day -- and you well know all

the service he rendered at Ephesus. {2 Tim 1:16-18 RSV}

Onesiphorus means "bringer of help." Here was a man who lived up to his name. He was, evidently,

a businessman. Paul had known him and his family when he himself was in Ephesus. There the family

and the man had ministered to Paul many times, so he prays a blessing upon them.

In his business travels, Onesiphorus had come to the city of Rome after Paul had been captured.

Painstakingly, at great effort, he sought and found the apostle. That was not easy to do. The

Romans were not telling everybody where Paul was imprisoned, but Onesiphorus kept looking until

he found him. And he was not ashamed of Paul's chains. He found him at great risk to his own life,

for, to befriend an enemy of Caesar in those days was to put one's own life in peril. Nero would

eliminate anybody for the slightest deviation from a manifestation of loyal support of him and his


Onesiphorus ministered to Paul and refreshed his spirit. He did not come gloomily wringing his

hands, beating his breast and talking about how terrible things were all through the Empire. He came

with confidence that God was still in charge and upholding things. Here Paul prays for him now that

he is still away, probably on another trip somewhere, and he asks Timothy to support his family

there and prays that God would bless him "on that Day." Onesiphorus was fearless, he was faithful, and he was cheerful. He reminds me of that favourite definition I have used many times of how a Christian ought to be: Completely fearless, Continually cheerful, and Constantly in trouble.


Matthew 4:1-11


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry.
3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”
8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”
11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.

A young man, who worked for a travel agent, was sent to a Pacific island. Even though it meant being separated from his girl friend, he accepted the job because it would enable him to earn enough to marry her.

As the lonely weeks went by, she began to have doubts that he was being true to her. After all, the holiday resort where he was working attracted beautiful women from all over the world. The young man declared that he was paying absolutely no attention to them. But he did write this in one of his letters, "I admit that sometimes I'm tempted. But I fight it. I am waiting for the day when I can be with you again."

Not long after he had sent that letter, the young man received a parcel. Inside there was a note and a harmonica. The note said, "I'm sending this to you so you can have something to take your mind off those girls." Dutifully the young man wrote back to his girl friend and told her that he was practising the harmonica every night and thinking only of her.

Eventually the young man's work on the island finished and he flew home. His girl friend was waiting at the airport. As he rushed to embrace her, she held up her hand to stop him and said sternly, "Just hold on there a minute. First I want to hear you play that harmonica!"

Temptation is all to real in our lives. We are tempted by a myriad of things of the world, and all of damage our relationship with the Lord.

Satan tells us two big lies, and he has been perpetuating them ever since the Garden of Eden. The first is that God is mean, vindictive, and a spoilsport whose main role in life is to keep us from being fulfilled and happy. When we step out of bounds, he (God) takes delight in making us pay.

The second lie is that God really doesn't care what we do -- probably doesn't even know. And if he does, his business is to forgive us. He'll always forgive no matter what, so it really doesn't make much difference how we live and what we believe.

Temptation is real, how must we handle it? We are going to apply our paradigm for this sermon series to this question. What would Jesus do about temptation? What DID Jesus do about temptation? And finally, what did Jesus tell us to do about temptation?

How did this chapter get in the gospels (it appears in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels)?

Clearly no one was there to report it, except the Lord Jesus Himself. He clearly wanted to tell His disciples something.

The story is a clear and vivid account from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself. Why did He tell them this? Clearly to help them when they would be tempted. Hebrews 2:18  For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.

The Lord Jesus’ vivid account of this to His disciples must have lived on in His memory as He dealt with many circumstances in His ministry: the wild desolate loneliness of the wilderness, the whisper of Satan’s voice, the offers put before Him.

Joseph Mallord Turner, English painter, invited Charles Kingsley to his studio to see a picture of a storm at sea. Kingsley exclaimed, "It's wonderful! It's so realistic! How did you do it?" The artist replied, "I went to the coast of Holland and engaged a fisherman to take me out to sea in the next storm. Entering his boat as a storm was brewing, I asked him to bind me to the mast. Then he steered his boat into the teeth of the storm. The storm raged with such fury that at times I longed to be in the bottom of the boat where the waves would blow over me. I could not, however. I was bound to the mast. Not only did I see the storm in its raging fury, I felt it! It blew into me, as it were, until I became a part of it. After this terrible ordeal, I returned to my studio and painted the picture."

You are subject to similar temptations.

James 1: 13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

"Brooks says our Enemy will bait our hook with anything we find desirable. This means he will gladly give us sex, money, power, pleasure, fame, fortune and relationships. Satan's goal is for us to take the bait without seeing the hook, and once the hook is in our mouth he then reels us in to take us captive. His gifts are often very good things offered for sinful uses. He'll challenge us to examine the gift to ensure its quality. That is the essence of the trap. The gift may be
good, but the giver is evil. In this way, Satan and demons are akin to a pedophile who seeks to entice children into trust with gifts of candy and toys, only to destroy them.
"When we take the gifts Satan and demons give, we are in essence biting down on the bait. As a result, the hook of sin is in our mouth, and Satan reels us in as his captive so that, as Jesus says in John 8:34, we become slaves to our sin."

1 John 2:16 outlines these areas. "For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world."

In Genesis 3:6, when Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, she saw that the forbidden fruit was "good for food" which corresponds with "the lust of the flesh." She also thought it was "pleasant to the eyes" with relates to "the lust of the eyes." Finally she was convinced by Satan's lies that the fruit was "desirable to make one wise", that was "the pride of life."

1. The Temptation To Choose The Physical Over The Spiritual

3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

And that meant that Jesus accepted human deprivation, discomfort, suffering. There was no shortcut for Him. His Sonship would take Him all the way through suffering to a hideous death - separated even from His Father. To be Son of God meant to be obedient to God, not to ride some supernatural hovercraft above the griefs and stresses of life, the normal constraints of human existence.

And that teaches you and me that the business of humans is not to achieve the good life, prosperity, comfort, success, ease, in the here and now. It is actually to find eternal life: to relate to God now and for ever. Man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

The story is told of John Wesley once challenging a worldly business man about a dishonest business practice. The man said in his own defence, "After all, Mr Wesley, a man must live, mustn't he?" And Wesley just said, "Must he?"

Joseph Parker draws attention to some interesting features in the answers of our Lord to Satan's suggestions. "They were not the result of a keen intellectuality on the part of Christ to which we mortals may not lay claim. They were not the outcome of ready wit nor of an unexpected flash of fire from friction that had not been counted on. They do not bear the marks of inventive genius. They were not answers that came on the spur of the moment as a result of His infinite wisdom. They were not metaphysical arguments elaborately stated and eloquently discussed. BUT they were simple enough for the average child to understand. They were quotations from the Word of God on which He meditated day and night. They were authoritative, not in the form of submitted suggestions. Human reasoning and arguments are weak in conflicts with Satan because they lack authority."

You can defeat Satan every time with Scripture!

This is why study and memorization are so important. Psalm 119:11 says, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!"

That Jesus responded with scripture is important for us to remember -- because when you are in the middle of a battle things can get pretty confusing and the Devil's suggestions can seem to make a lot of sense. We need to have an objective truth, a marker, that we can look to and say, "No matter what, I know this is true." Let's face it, you and I are not smarter than the Devil -- is there anyone here that has not been tricked before? Is there anyone here who has not said, "Well, it seemed right at the time?" The Devil doesn't usually come straight at you. He is tricky about things.

2. The Temptation To Choose The Spectacular Over The Simple

5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,

No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways,

In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:9-12).

But Jesus declined the offer. Instead, He cited Dt. 6:16, whose context is a sharp warning to fear and serve only God and to be certain to do what is right in God's sight. Jesus' interpretation was true to the context and meaning of the passage. Ask yourself, Am I submitting to the Scriptures, or am I using the Scriptures to support my personal agenda?

Mr Hayes wrote:

Sick religion is God-dishonoring. Satan wanted Jesus to use God. We can almost hear him saying, "Take advantage of God. Hold Him to His word. Make Him prove Himself. Use Him to get what you want." The temptation to stand above God, to view God as one more tool or resource at our disposal, is inherent in sick religion. Jesus declared we were to reverence God and to make certain we lived in sub-mission to Him.

What then is the lure of sick religion? Why are we so easily deceived by sick religion? What are the lures it dangles before us? One of its primary strengths is that sick religion often delivers immediate gratification. Satan mistakenly believed Jesus desired followers more than anything else. The tempter suggested that leaping from the temple and being rescued by the angels would produce that result. Satan was right about the people. We are vulnerable to a celebrity's appeal and are addicted to excitement. Many would have followed Jesus if He had taken Satan's recommended action.

One of the things that I have had going through my mind for a long time is how in the world does a church which is caught up in the entertainment culture ever really find a way to keep people's attention, without just putting on the show biz act all the time?

Calvin miller wrote :

This almost seems to me to be Jesus' invitation by Satan to take the show biz route. Look at what the passage is saying. The devil takes Jesus up onto a very high pinnacle, which archaeologists say was about 186 feet above this dry creek, a river moat that surrounded Jerusalem. He says, "If you really want to be famous, Jesus, just jump off this temple, this immense height, and when you land unhurt -- the show biz act -- people will gather around you and you will be instantly famous." Jesus declines this. I think he declines it because he is far more interested in giving them an image of a Christ who wanted to touch people, to change their lives, to understand their hurts, to affirm them, to love them, than to give them a show biz, straw hat and cane routine.

Yet, we do live in the middle of a show biz generation. Every time I think of this, I think of some words that Neal Postman used in a wonderful book that he wrote, a book that talks about amusing ourselves to death. He says, "We have become a couch potato generation. We have divided ourselves into creators and watchers."

I believe Jesus refuses Satan's second temptation because he doesn't want to be a show biz Messiah. I have to remember that the very nature of Satan himself, for instance, probably came because he started skipping his morning alleluias to sing, "I've Got to Be Me." The truth is, of course, that is what selfishness is all about. Show biz often has given us a very narcissistic picture, a very selfish picture of money and influence, and fifteen minutes of fame here and there. I think a wonderful thing happens when we begin to see this other thing, this new cry for the church not to put on a big show. We've had it with churches that put on big shows, and want a church which responds to people who say, "Hey, I'm hurting. My needs are immense. Could you come into my life and touch me with something very important and very real?"

Edmund Hillary made the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. He had climbed the mountain all the way to the top, the first man ever to do that. The thing that impressed me about the whole story was not that Edmund Hillary climbed the mountain, but that he had a companion who climbed the mountain with him. Nobody ever hears his name. His name was Tenzing Norgay. Tenzing, however, climbed the mountain with him and on the way back down the mountain, Hillary fell and was almost lost. He would have been lost without Tenzing Norgay. Tenzing Norgay literally pulled him back up the cable and saved his life and Edmund Hillary lived to tell a great story because of this help from an unknown man. When someone asked Norgay why he didn't make more of it, why he didn't brag about it, he said, "We mountain climbers help each other."

What a great model this would be for our church. We Christians have no need to be on television or make millions of dollars putting out a show. It is time we reversed the process and touched people and say very simply, "We Christians help each other. That's who we are."

But there is a remedy for sick religion. We are to enter into a proper relationship with God. Submission and obedience characterize this relationship. Look at the scripture Jesus used. In Dt. 6, Moses had told the Israelites to worship only God and to keep God's commandments. They were not to put God to the test in any way. Forsaking all false, self-serving idols, they were to submit and to obey God. Only then would all be well for them. But sick religion puts something else or someone else, including self, in God's place. It promises success or some other reward we desire.

3. The Temptation To Choose The Easy Over The Difficult

8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”

Thirdly, the devil took Jesus to the top of a mountain and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their splendour. He offered to give it all to Jesus if he would bow down and worship him. I guess the thought that softens us up to give in to every kind of temptation is that God is not completely sovereign. The temptation to doubt, despair, blasphemy and suicide crashes into our lives when we begin to think God isn't in control of us, or his church or the world. Perhaps our prayers have been long unanswered, our hearts have been broken, we have passed through multiple pain - how can we believe that God is still in control of this sick world?

The devil comes to Jesus, shows him the glory of the world and says, "I can give you this if you worship me. It is mine to give. I've got the power. Let's be realistic. How can a God of love be in charge of a world of hatred? Who runs the kingdoms of the world? Who are they following? They are all in my power, and I can give them to whomsoever I will. Come unto me, Jesus of Nazareth, and I will give you their glory" That is what Satan says to Christ

He is promising the Saviour the power and splendour without the cross. Instant victory. Instant majesty without pain. Just tip your hat to Satan and it's yours. Millions do. God is really powerless, and so let's go for glory in the world

Jesus knew He faced suffering and death if He chose servanthood as His method of ministry. This kind of power would offer a way to avoid the pain and be Lord over all people. Satan was saying to Him, "Why not just become an earthly king and order them to do right?" What could be wrong with that?

Hidden in all of the thought processes involved inevitably is an excuse. With all that power, think about the good things I could do. Wouldn't have to worry about the red tape. Wouldn't have to concern myself with possible opposition. With absolute power I can do anything.

Understand, Jesus wanted to save people from the power and the consequence of sin and bring them into a right relationship with God. Yet, at every turn during His earthly ministry, He was faced by the opposition of his hard-hearted enemies' and by His disciples' ineffective efforts. It would have been easy to justify taking Satan's offer.

Listen, we are not immune from the temptation of power. Many seek it for its own sake, some for self-protection. Some for the sake of doing good. Having absolute power tempts us in all areas of our lives: family, business, society, government, and the church. And my friends, understand, it is there for the taking.

There are two key elements that we must embrace if we want to avoid the temptation Satan puts before us. First, notice that Jesus made a decisive choice to worship God and only God. He saw the connection between power and Satan. In order to have one, you had to worship the other. Jesus refused. Second, Jesus made a definite choice to embrace God's way of ministry. Instead of the conquering king, he would gladly be the suffering servant even though making the choice set Him on His course to the cross of Calvary. He would have no earthly crown, no armies, not even a place to lay His head. But He would have God and the ministry God intended.

Christ conquers by obeying the Word of God, "it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'" (Matt.4:10). He hides behind the word. Only by worshipping God can the king be set on the holy hill of Zion. "Ask of me," for this, says the Lord. He is the one giving enthronement to his Son, not Satan. Jesus will not bow before the devil because he is determined to wait on God. "Worship the Lord your God!" The Lord is more or less saying, I’m done with your petty attractions devil, there is only one thing that counts, obeying the Lord and living all of My life under His Obedience and in worship to Him. Is there obedience in our lives? Not a perfect obedience but is our life lived on a new plane? Applying God's word to our personal lives is your major task. Are you doing that? Worshipping God is the duty of every human being. Jeremiah 29:13 where God says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me WITH ALL YOUR HEART." There is only one reason to come to this service -- to seek and find GOD! And the Lord God says to you straight from his word every Sunday, "You will find me when you seek me with ALL YOUR HEART!"

A woman was playing in the surf at Nelson Bay in a blow up canoe. She was enjoying the comfort of relaxing on the airfilled canoe that kept her afloat. When she realized that she had been swept about a half mile out from the beach, she would have begun to scream, but no one would have heard her. As you know her body washed up last week on Stockton beach. She did not see her danger until she was beyond her own strength and ability.

Don’t drift through life in a plastic boat on a sea of temptations. Resist them now before they draw you in a current far too strong for you ending in Satan’s LSD Lust Sin and Death.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Why you Need not fear sharing your faith.


2 Timothy 1: 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

The Lord Jesus made it very clear that we, His disciples and followers, are not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He said Mark 8: 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? 37 What can a man give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Dr. Roland Q. Leavell in his book "Evangelism: Christ's Imperative Commission" wrote that fear is the number one reason for Christians not witnessing.

Black Bart was a professional thief whose very name struck ear as he terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line. From San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier. Between 1875 and 1883 he robbed 29 different stagecoach crews. Amazingly, Bart did it all without firing a shot. Because a hood hid his face, no victim ever saw his face. He never took a hostage and was never trailed by a sheriff. Instead, Black Bart used fear to paralyze his victims. His sinister presence was enough to overwhelm the toughest stagecoach guard.

One of Satan's chief weapons to keep us from standing up and speaking up for Christ is fear. We are afraid of letting people we work with know that we are Christians. We are afraid to talking to others about Jesus. No doubt the chief reason many never join the FAITH programme is fear.

Clarence Macartney said, "Regardless of what men's progression of faith may be, if they are under the dominion of fear, they are practical atheists."

We don't have to live as practical atheists or defeated believers. We have been given the resources to overcome our fear. Paul tells us that "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

1. You have the Spirit of God

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

Paul is telling us that we have been given power to overcome whatever we fight and face In life, even our fears. This power is the power of the Holy Spirit.

You can face your fears. You can fight your fears. I John 4:4 tells us, "Greater is He that in you, than he that is in the world."

Do you know what God says more than anything else He says in the Bible? It is

"Fear not." More than anything else God says, He says we don't have to fear. More than 100 times God says "Fear not." Why? Because He has given us the Holy Spirit which enables us to overcomes our fears.

He is the Spirit of power.

Jesus said, "All power is given unto me..." and He gave us that power. He said “Go therefore and make disciples” If you know He has the power, you will go and make disciples! It is that simple!

He is the Spirit of love.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died.

Remember the song: “The power of your love!” Christ will give us an all-consuming love for others if we will allow Him to. He will fill us with His love and will help us to see others out of His eyes.

Christ's love can consume us and control our every move.

He is the Spirit of sound judgment.

8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

2. You have a Saviour

9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

That power can take sharp, censorious people with acid tongues and soften them and make them over into new persons. It can take a proud, pompous, self-righteous, self-sufficient professor, or whatever, and transform him into a gentle, easy to live with, wonderful person. It can take a Chuck Colson, who openly swore he would run over his own grandmother to achieve his purposes, and turn him into a caring, concerned man who has dedicated his life to helping people in prison. That is a miracle. That is the power of God, and it ought to keep us from being ashamed of our Christian faith.

With that, the apostle links this term: "He called us with a holy calling." That is speaking of sanctification, the process of reformation as well as regeneration, where our lives start to be transformed. Not only is regeneration a miracle and a demonstration of the power of God, but the continuing growth and transformation of an individual is an evidence of the power of God. That power causes us to turn away from hurt and shame and ugliness unto health and wholeness. (That is what the word holy means, "wholeness.")

Our world's greatest problem is sin, which separates us from God.  The cross was God's way of laying a bridge across that deep ditch.  According to the Scripture we're looking at today, the cross was the place where a great trade took place:  Christ offered himself in exchange for us.  He put himself in our place and took on the penalty we deserved for the ways we've rebelled against God.
In his 1908 book, The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus, John Baddeley described the fierce leader, Shamil, who led the Caucasian resistance against imperial Russia in the area that is now Chechnya.  Even as he led daring guerilla strikes against the Russians, he had to fight the spirit of defeatism among his own countrymen.  He once made a proclamation that whoever advocated any capitulation with the Russians would be beaten with a hundred heavy lashes.  Shortly after the severe edict, an offender was caught and brought before Shamil.  To the warlord's shock and grief, it was his own mother who had called for a treaty with the enemy.
He retreated into solitude for three days to decide what to do.  Due to the blatant disregard of his order and its potential impact on morale, he instructed that the penalty should be carried out.  After the fifth stroke ripped into his mother's back, however, he called a halt to the lashing.  Then something remarkable took place:  He stripped to the waist, knelt down by his mother, and took the remaining ninety-five strokes upon himself.
The story of Shamil's actions wound its way up the mountain passes, carried in astonished whispers from village to village.  Impressed by their leader's uncompromising justice and costly compassion, none of his tribesmen ever again mentioned negotiations with the enemy.  It's a story that resonates in the region to this day.
God did the same thing for us.  He bore the punishment himself, in the person of his own Son, "so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).  The cross became that place where God showed both his justice and his love.
When you bow in prayer for lost people, it should be with the hope and the expectation that those you know will come to the same conclusions about the cross that you have come to.  You need to know the right solution.

3. You have life over death 10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

When Paul wrote his last letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, he was in the Mamertine prison in Rome and was awaiting his own death. As you read that second letter to Timothy you can see that he was quite aware that it was drawing close. He felt that he probably would not get out alive, and he didn't. But in the letter he speaks of the appearing of Jesus Christ our Savior who, [he says,] abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. {2 Tim 1:10b RSV}

Some folks because of the garishness of death have rewritten nursery rhymes like this rewrite:

Three kind mice, three kind mice, They all ran after the farmer's wife,

Who cut them some cheese with a carving knife. Did you ever hear such a tale in your life, as three kind mice?

"Death is muffled in illusions." Dostoevski, the well-known Russian writer, who once faced a firing squad and was delivered at the last possible moment, said: The certainty of inescapable death, and the uncertainty of what is to follow are the most dreadful anguish in the world.

There he placed his finger on the cause of our fear of death: "the uncertainty of what is to follow."

We know not what, or where. And it is this unknown factor that makes us most afraid.

But you have something to share with others because you have faced the fear of death and defeated it.

Hebrews 2: 14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, He also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

The word translated “destroyed” in II Timothy 1:10 means to render powerless. When Jesus rose from the dead, he broke the power of death forever.

This is done in two ways.

First, he removes the fear of judgment by the forgiveness of sin. There is nothing more fundamental to Christianity than that. In the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God was doing something that we men do not fully understand but which nevertheless God declares to be true. He was accomplishing the solution of the basic problem of human evil, which dogs us everywhere we go, the best as well as the worst, the righteous and respectable as well as the evil and the outcast. God solved this basic problem in the cross of Christ. He laid our sins upon him.

I don't know how it happened. I don't know anyone else who fully understands it. It is one of those great mysteries which God declares and which the mind of man cannot fathom or follow. But God has done it, and in Christ men are forgiven.

Secondly, The second thing Jesus does is to promise us life with him. He said, "Because I live, you too shall live," {cf, John 14:19b}. He demonstrated his ability to fulfill that promise by rising from the dead himself. To me that is a most impressive fact. It is what convinces me that I can trust what Jesus says. One day death itself will die. Until then death has taken on new meaning for the Christian. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26). Death for the Christian is a temporary interruption, a passing from one stage of life to another. That is what Paul meant when he declared that to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

How did he destroy death? He could only conquer death by entering the realm of death, yanking the keys from the hands of the devil, unlocking the door, and marching out on Easter Sunday triumphant over the grave.

He died like we die. He was really dead, actually dead, completely dead. He wasn’t partly dead or mostly dead. He was as dead as any person could be. And from that state of death God raised him back to life. He himself walked into that dark valley alone. He faced cold death and looked into its awful face. He stared down death, broke its power, and walked away victorious.

One day death will die! O God, let that day come soon!

Deep in our hearts we wonder what will happen when our time comes to cross the Great Divide. How will it be with us when we have to go through the valley of the shadow of death? Will we be afraid? Will our faith stand the test?

"O death, where is your sting. O grave, where is your victory?" {cf, 1 Cor 15:55}

The Bible tells us that the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). Consider that picture for a moment. How do you take the sting out of a bee? By taking the sting yourself. Then the bee can hurt you no more. Christ took the venom of death. Death stung him and killed him. But death could not keep him dead. He took all the venom of death so there is none left for his people to fear. Death for us is no longer a curse but a blessing. The New Testament calls it “sleep” because when you sleep, you plan to wake up later.

I don't know how to explain it except by what is involved in this story of Jesus. Death is no longer fearsome for the believer. Death in Christ means to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. "To depart and be with Christ," Paul says, "is far better," {cf, Phil 1:23}. He has taken away the sting of death and removed its fear and terror. So death becomes but an incident, a moment of transition from this life to the next, and then the experience of joy and blessing beyond expression.

Each of us has an appointment with Death sooner or later.

Will you face Death as someone who is forgiven? Will you face death as someone who has conquered death?

Have you put your trust in the One who holds the keys of life and death? Revelation 1:17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Death has been destroyed. When Jesus rose from the dead, he left the door to the tomb wide open. That means we won’t have to fight our way out of the grave when he calls us to wake up. He left the door open 2000 years ago. That is God’s guarantee that even though we die, we won’t stay dead forever.

I have here a letter which was written by a young soldier about to die. During World War II he was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis and was sentenced to be executed. Writing from his prison in Hamburg on the day of his execution, this is what he said to his parents:

When this letter comes to your hands I shall no longer be among the living. The thing that has

occupied our thoughts constantly for many months, never leaving them free, is now about to

happen. If you ask me what state I am in I can only answer: I am, first, in a joyous mood and,

second, filled with a great anticipation.

As regards the first feeling, today means the end of all suffering and all earthly sorrow for me.

"God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes." What consolation, what marvelous strength

emanates from faith in Christ who has preceded us in death. Everything that till now I have done,

struggled for, and accomplished, has at bottom been directed to this one goal, whose barrier I

shall penetrate today. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man

the things which God has prepared for them that love him."

For me, believing will become seeing; hope will become possession, and I shall forever share in

Him who is love. Should I not, then, be filled with anticipation? What is it all going to be like? The

things that up to this time I have been permitted to preach about, I shall now see. There will be no

more secrets nor tormenting puzzles. Today is the great day on which I return to the home of my

Father. How could I fail to be excited and full of anticipation? Then I shall see once more all those

who have been near and dear to me here on earth.

And so, until we meet again above, in the presence of the Father of light.

Your joyful, Herman.

Forgiven! Confidence in the face of death! Do you know it to be true for you? If you do, then you will be excited to share it with those who do not know it to be true for them yet. Oh what grief death brings! Did you not grieve this week for so many who lost their lives in the horrible inferno? Did you not weep as you realised these were your fellow Australians who suffered such loss? There will be funerals this week. Many, many funerals. Wouldn’t you like people to know that death doesn’t have to be the victor in anyone’s life anymore?

Then go tell them! They need to know! They need to have a joy that will take them through the valley of the shadow of death and into the Lord’s presence in heaven! And only you can tell them!

4. You have a job

11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,

The person with a commission doesn’t need permission.

5. You have an assurance

12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

What He saves He keeps!

This is a Confident Assurance

Many texts teaching the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice for his people. "I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand." "...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Heb. 10:14). Toplady put this confidence in the work of our shepherd this way.

If ever it should come to pass, That sheep of Christ might fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas! Would fall a thousand times a day.

But, his point is, the shepherd knows his sheep and is willing to leave those 99 who are in safety to rescue even one who has wandered away and has put himself in some danger. "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me." "I shall lose not one of those the Father has given me, but raise them up at the last day."

This Is A Christ-Centred Assurance

"For I know whom I have believed . . ." (v. 12a)

it is faith in a person. That person is Jesus Christ.

What the Church desperately needs today is to be thoroughly introduced to Christ. We need to know Him intimately. We need to put our faith, not merely in doctrines about Him, but in Him. As we trust Him by faith, then we will come to know Him by experience. And the more we experience Him, the more we will trust Him.

Be mindful of Jesus and Me! My pardon He suffer'd to buy;

And what he procur'd on the tree, For me He demands in the sky.

The reason why many people doubt His word is because they have not come to know HIM personally. I had one minister friend who told me that he was once a liberal. He said he used to doubt God’s Word. But then an interesting thing happened — he surrendered to Christ. That was also Billy Graham’s testimony. He said that since that time, he had never had any problem with the Bible, God’s Word. We believe God’s Word because we believe God.

This is a Committed Assurance

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