Yesterday was no different. I ran a "little long" or as one of our children's workers for the day said, "You were a little long-winded today, weren't you?" They are so gracious to bear with me on those Sundays where I go long and they have to watch the children a little longer. Thank you for the way you serve our children and the church as a whole.
We have been going through a vision series at the church for a few weeks with the vision being, "Treasuring and Sharing Christ Together Locally and Globally for the Glory of God." You can listen to the different messages here if you like. Yesterday we focused on the second value that serves as a foundational pillar to this vision: Growing Together--A Bible Saturation. From 2 Timothy 3:10-17 we looked at Paul's command to Timothy and to us to live persistently in the Word of God.
One of the reasons from the text why we are to do this is so that we will not falter in the day of deception. Paul warns us that evil people will advance more and more, deceiving and themselves being deceived. One of the quotes that I left out was from Eugene Robinson. He is an Episcopal Bishop in New Hampshire. He is also a homosexual who sees no problem with that at all as he reads Scripture. In his recent autobiography he writes,
“Though I believe the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, that doesn’t mean they are literally the ‘words’ of God, virtually dictated by God through human media. And let’s not forget that the real ‘Word’ of God is Jesus himself.”
“The Bible is the best and most trustworthy witness [to Jesus] but it neither replaces Jesus as the Word nor takes precedence over Christ’s continuing action in the world through the Holy Spirit. To elevate the words of scripture to a place higher than the revealed Word of God in Jesus Christ is an act of idolatry.”
This is a prime example of someone who is deceiving others with unbiblical teaching and unbeknownst to him being deceived himself. You simply cannot pit the Jesus as the Word of God up against the Bible as the Word of God. Stressing the importance of the Bible as the literal Word of God and as Paul tells Timothy, "All Scripture is breathed out by God," does not detract from Jesus Christ as the Word of God. What would we know about Jesus Christ apart from the Word of God? All that we know about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior to the World is derived from the Word of God. If we mistakenly allow that the Bible is not literally the Word of God then we cannot be sure that what it says about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior to the World is correct and thus we have nothing reliable to believe about Jesus Christ as the Word of God. Our belief/trust, and rightly so, that the Bible is literally without error the Word of God is our only source of reliable and lifechanging teaching about Jesus Christ as the Word of God and Savior to the World--anyone and everyone who believes in Him alone for the forgiveness of sins.
Another quote I left off had to do with this same focus on why we must live persistently in the Word of God. Not only so we will not falter in the day of deception, but also so we do not falter in the day of persecution. Paul assures Timothy that everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Therefore, we must stay in the Word of God so that by God's grace we will be sustained to endure that suffering and not turn back.
At the recent "The Basics" conference, Voddie Baucham made this precise and true comment in regard to our suffering and the Gospel.
We did not earn this “setting apart.” I’m set apart by the grace of God. He saved me and set me apart; it is not because of my works. Why do I get upset when suffering comes? Because I’m not thinking gospel. The gospel says I’m not saved through my works but through the finished work of Jesus Christ. But I begin to compare myself to the people around me and compare myself favorably. When suffering comes my way and my first reaction is not to say that this is not about what I’ve done, but rather “God, haven’t you been paying attention to all I’ve done.” If I don’t preach the gospel to myself over and over and over again, my reaction is to look inward. When I remind myself of my sinfulness and the depths from which I’ve been saved I ask, “Why don’t I suffer more?”
We don’t have the grace to live and preach the gospel, but the great news is that we do not have to. It is not us but Christ in us. We must proclaim the gospel over and over again because difficult days will come and they will have the tendency to frighten us into fearing men more than God; unless you have proclaimed the gospel to yourself consistently you will cry “Woe is me and where is God!” If we keep our minds set on Jesus and remember that He saved us and set us apart and did so for His own glory and by His own grace, and if we remind ourselves that He is the only means by which any who have suffered have been able to endure, we will proclaim and preserve the gospel on the one hand and endure the suffering that will come on the other. Preach the gospel to yourself!
What a great question to ask ourselves in the midst of suffering and persecution! Ask not, "Why am I suffering?" but rather, "Why do I not suffer more than I do?" The answer is because of the grace poured out to us through the cross of Jesus Christ and it is that same grace that enables us to endure the suffering and persecution we go through in life.
Well, this blog has gone on too long as well. I must leave it here and go and preach the gospel to myself so that I might not falter in the day of deception or persecution.