Is the Church still the Pillar of Truth?

1 Timothy 3:14-15 “I’m writing these things to you so that you may know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

The Apostle Paul identified the church as a ‘pillar and buttress of the truth‘. If there is any group of people on the planet that needs to know and represent the truth of Jesus Christ well, it’s the people of God. Representing the teachings of Jesus well doesn’t mean selecting a few verses out of the gospels that suit your position on the latest social issue but requires understanding the whole context of the bible, including the Old Testament, the epistles, as well as the historical and apocalyptic literature that make up the New Testament. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a shift away from truth as the bible reveals, within the church, because of pressure from the surrounding culture. The antichrist spirit is gaining momentum across the media and culture at large, making it easier for fence sitters in the church to choose the broad pathway that leads to death instead of the narrow pathway that leads to life. More and more believers are using Jesus name to justify ideologies that aren’t even in the ball park of what the Scripture teaches. This demonstrates poor exegesis and a growing ignorance of the fundamental teachings of the Word of God. It appears that some believers are basing their beliefs on feelings to suit their conversations with family, peers and voices in the media rather than on the solid rock of God’s Word. It’s becoming a case of the blind leading the blind. The universal church, by and large, has held onto essential orthodox beliefs for 2,000 years because the truths underpinning these beliefs have been painstakingly clear in Gods Word for 2,000 years. It’s only been in recent times that we are now seeing such liberal views of Scripture infiltrate the church on a mass scale. This is a time for the church to be revived in its passion for God and truth, and not only for people and grace. This is a time for the church to be revived in its belief in the authority of Scripture, interpreting it and applying it in a way that honours God first and foremost, whether it’s popular or not. Explosive Insights!

Perseverance of the Saints!

“Why should you wake up believing in the morning?”

John Piper

On a regular basis I meet up with my dad in one of my favorite places in Melbourne, Lygon St, Carlton and discuss God, life and ministry. He reflected back to me recently, how as a pastor preaching every Sunday to a full congregation, he would ask himself, “What makes these people keep turning up? Why do they keep listening? And why do I keep turning up to preach the bible to them?”

Challenging questions that require more than surface level answers. I want to offer some brief, and hopefully biblical answers to them.  Paul said in Philippians 3:12, “Christ Jesus has made me his own.” To be saved is to be owned by Christ through his saving work on the cross. We can only make knowing Christ our own, cause Christ has first made us his own. Jesus said to his Father in John 17:12 “While I was with them (speaking of the disciples), I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction (Judas), that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

A key question I ask of this passage is, would the Father present to his Son a gift that would not last? The disciples by covenant belonged to the Son. Jesus keeps all whom the Father gives to him. In John 11:41-42 we read of Jesus interceding and he says, “Father I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus always gets his prayers answered and Jesus intercessory ministry keeps us safe and secure.

John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you, to keep you from falling away from me.”

A Theology of Salvation.

Romans 8:29 ‘Those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called, he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified.” 

 

  1. Justification (past) is a free gift from God and is about our right standing with God. To be justified means to be declared righteous and no longer guilty of sin because of Christ’s death on the cross, my sin has been removed and God’s wrath appeased. Jesus has become my substitutionary atonement.
  2. Sanctification (present) is about the continuing process of salvation. It speaks of consecration to God and being set apart. Sanctification is challenging and exhausting, where the believer works out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 3:12-13) as a direct result of what God has already worked into the believer through justification and regeneration (new birth).
  3. Glorification (future) is effortless because God will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by his power (Phil 3:21). Glorification is the final step in receiving the gift of eternal life, whereby, we are morally and spiritually perfected and completely transformed.

A real Christian perseveres in their present sanctification, not as an exercise of their will but as a provision of God’s grace at work in them. A real Christian perseveres because they have been justified, regenerated, adopted by God and they are going to be glorified.

I believe that the bible teaches that all who are justified will win the fight of faith. Believers will persevere in faith and never surrender to the enemy of their souls because of the grace of God at work in them. This perseverance is the promise of the new covenant, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God himself, yet not as to diminish, but only to empower and encourage, our vigilance; so that we may say in the end, “I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Romans 8:30 “Those whom he justified he also glorified.”

 

John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

Philippians 1:6 “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Ron Hanko says, “Believers are not preserved from falling, but from falling away; not from temptation, but from being destroyed by temptation; not from sin, but from the sin unto death. Due entirely to their own weakness and sinfulness, believers can and do fall into temptation and sin. But Psalm 37:24 assures us, ‘Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

Grace!

How Jesus responded to Fame!

Matthew 14:1 “At that time Herod the tetrarch about the fame of Jesus…” Matthew 12:15-16 “Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known.”

In my devotions this morning I came across these two passages of Scripture and was fascinated by the fact that while Jesus had obvious fame and notoriety in his generation (and still has today) because of his preaching and miracles, he went to great lengths to keep it all under wraps.

Throughout the gospels we read that Jesus was constantly asking his disciples or those to whom he was ministering to not to tell anyone about his ministry, and yet it seemed like Jesus ministry just kept getting bigger. He even had family members telling him to go to Jerusalem and do his works out in the open and not in obscure places, if he wanted to be known… How wrong they were about Jesus motives…

Even though Jesus had many people following his ministry and his name even being heard amongst the elite of the day (King Herod), I’m fascinated that he did all he could to keep a low profile, to enable him to go about the Father’s business in the times and seasons alloted to him.

Jesus lived his life on purpose and if twitter and Facebook had been around, I’m sure he would have avoided boasting of the last great miracle he performed (“Just opened another blind man’s eyes… I had to give him another round of prayer cause his eyesight was still blurry after the first one…” In 70 characters or less).

Jesus responded to the opportunities before him according to his mission from his Father. If being given a platform to more people would extend the mission of the Father, then Jesus would use it accordingly but I don’t read him seeking fame. In fact, he did the opposite, he avoided it.

How Jesus’ example challenges us today? I wish I could say, that all of my motives for social media and ministry have been pure but unfortunately, lurking deep within have been some very prideful and selfish agenda’s. I’ve since repented of them, however, Jesus’ example forces us to re-examine the goals we are aiming for in our lives and what we are seeking after as being worthy of our joy and contentment.

If God’s grace extends to you fame and notoriety, this much I know, it isn’t for you, cause you were never built to handle it. It could only be for the glory of Jesus and the extension of his mission on planet earth. If fame and notoriety doesn’t come your way, rejoice that your name is written down in the book of life and get on with the mission God’s put before you.

Grace!