Last Sunday I had the joy of preaching the first sermon in a series on Paul’s second epistle to Timothy. Click here to listen to Encouragement from a Prison Cell, from 2 Timothy 1:1-7.
May God Prosper His Word!
(Big HT:The Sound Crew At Redeemer)
Twelve O’clock High is a 1949 film, starring Gregory Peck, about the United States Army Air Force crews who flew daylight bombing missions against Germany and occupied France during World War II. A problem had arisen with the 918th Bomb Group…the men were battered and morale was low because of the large amount of casualties that they were experiencing. They were beginning to question whether or not they should be fighting in the war at all. Many were threatening to quit. The commanding general realizes that the commanding officer is at fault and he relieves him of his duty.
The man chosen to replace the officer is General Frank Savage, played by Peck. Savage finds his new command in disarray and begins to address the discipline problems. He deals with everyone so harshly that the men begin to detest him. At one point, he closes down the officers club bar as punishment. At the breaking point, Savage calls the men into a meeting to give a, now famous, speech.
Paul said in Acts 20:24, But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. So perhaps there is a connection between Gregory Peck’s “you’re already dead” speech and our approach to the Christian life. Perhaps we do get too focused on ourselves, our plans, the worries of this world.
Wouldn’t it be freeing to live as though we were already dead? Paul’s instructions are very similar…you will be persecuted…understand it, embrace it and then live in bold, love tempered, self controlled power for the glory of God! When you do you won’t be turned in , focused on yourself, but you’ll have a heart that longs for the up building of others! The sovereignty of God (his providence, promise and will), the fact that he abundantly meets all our needs in Christ Jesus, should encourage us to fan our gifts into blaze for the glory of God! Paul also says, in Romans 14:8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Is that your life slogan?
There is one breakdown in the comparison between 12 o’clock High and the Christian life…General Savage employs the men to “do your duty!…do your job.” That is NOT the motivation that we see from the lips of Jesus. We see—joy! Take joy in me! Be satisfied in Me! Delight in Me! Seek first my kingdom…and all these things will be added unto you.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:39 “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.”
May God give us the grace and joy to lose our lives for Christ’s sake!!
Imagine for a moment that you are on death row. Imagine that you have spent your entire life fighting for a cause that you’ve truly believed in, only be rewarded with a death sentence. Imagine that all of your closest supporters have deserted you. At one point they were with you through thick and thin, but now it’s just you and this cold, dark cell. Imagine that you only have a few weeks to live. What would be going through your mind? What sort of emotions would you be experiencing?
This is exactly the situation that the Apostle Paul found himself in as he wrote his second epistle to his son in the faith, Timothy. His situation had greatly changed since the writing of the first letter. He was now facing certain death under the rule of Emperor Nero, languishing in a cold, dark dungeon, chained like a common criminal. This is the context for Sunday’s message at Redeemer entitled, Encouragement from a Prison Cell, from 2 Timothy 1:1-7.
Can it be that Paul is “thanking God” and considering the faith and circumstances of others during this time? How can such an encouraging and faith-equipping letter be sent from such despondent conditions? What happens to your faith when darkness creeps in? How do you fit suffering into your view of an all knowing, all good and all powerful God? Are you complaining about your current situation? Are you living in such a way that will naturally lead to a death that exalts God? Join us this week at Redeemer as we begin a journey into 2 Timothy that, Lord willing, will equip us to fight for joy and finish this race, welcoming the day of the righteous judge!
May Jesus Keep His Promise to Build His Church!
Jim Hamilton has recently reviewed Anthony L. Chute’s, A Piety above the Common Standard: Jesse Mercer and Evangelistic Calvinism.
Here is a snipit:
Jesse Mercer’s Calvinism is presented in chapter 3. Like all who identify with Calvinism, Mercer was led to his theological position by the Bible, not by any special allegiance to John Calvin. Interestingly, Mercer identified himself more with John Gill than Andrew Fuller. Those who severed the sovereignty of God from human responsibility were doubtful of Mercer’s commitments to his theology because he was so zealous for missions, but the problem was with their refusal to embrace the tension between sovereignty and responsibility, not with any position Mercer held. This chapter is a masterpiece of historical theology. Chute ably summarizes theological positions and persons, showing how the theological contributions of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards were the lifeblood of the early Baptists in America. Mercer was not one of those theologians who think that God revealed the truths of election and effectual calling for ministers to hide them. Mercer published on these doctrines and insisted repeatedly on his faithful adherence to them. As Chute puts it, “He took sides, and people noticed” (81).
You can read the entire reveiw here.
Are you familiar with the expression: “The giver gets the glory?” Consider a time when you presented someone with a gift. Perhaps you shopped, considered, and thought tediously about what to give. Finally you make a decision on what seems to be the perfect gift. You wrap it nicely and wait for the best time to present it to the recipient. Now, the true fun begins! They slowly unwrap the package, overwhelmed that you thought of them in the first place. Then they are overcome with excitement and gratitude when they see the present. What a feeling of joy and happiness that you experience in giving such a thoughtful gift. The giver gets the glory!
In 2 Samuel 8, we come upon a time in David’s reign as King when he is experiencing overwhelming success. We have learned that God has given him “rest on every side from all his enemies (2 Sam. 7:1).” God has promised to make for David “a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth (7:9).” In 2 Samuel 8, our sermon text this week, we find God keeping His promises. David has defeated the Philistines, Israel’s arch enemy; the Moabites; Hadadezer; the Arameans; and the Edomites. Thus, “David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteousness for all his people (8:15).”
The giver gets the glory. The narrator wants to make sure the reader understands that “”the LORD helped David wherever he went,” as it is mentioned twice in chapter 8 alone. We get a glimpse that David understands that his success is a gift of God when the King of Hamath brings articles of silver, gold and bronze to David (8:10). David “dedicated these to the LORD with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued…” David gives the giver the glory!
How about you friend? “What do you have that you have not received? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it (1 Cor. 4:7)?” How does God receive glory for the gifts He sovereignly brings into your life? Is your heart full of thankfulness for these gifts, or is there an insatiable thirst for more? Is your life centered on the giver, or have you been blinded by the gifts?
All glory be to the Giver!
I can still see in my head a certain preacher at the end of a “Christless” sermon give a half-hearted gospel presentation at the very end, in all of 7 seconds: “If you don know Jesus, would you pray with me?…Say–Dear Jesus, I love you, I want to make you Lord of my life, I want to turn away from my sins and be saved.” Not that this is inherently bad, but it just seems so shallow. Like an add-on or an addition. Almost like he’s apologizing for having to say this…
The Gospel is not shallow. Tim Keller, who pastors Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, proves that in his talk Gospel-Centered Ministry, given in May of this year at a conference for the Gospel Coalition.
Enjoy this captivating talk on the beauty that is the mysterious gospel, that angels “lust” to look into!
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the 2007 John Bunyan Theology and Church History Conference, sponsored by Grace Reformed Baptist Church. I also had the honor of visiting with my fellow elder at Redeemer, Jim Hamilton on the way to his talk on Thomas Cranmer. You can hear Jim’s lecture on Cranmer here, as well as all of the other talks at the conference.
I was most encouraged by the human elements in Cranmer’s life. He was not perfect, he was human. He made decisions that he thought would ultimately further the gospel and his life. We must admit life is this way…we live in a world that is corrupt and political. We can throw up our hands and say “I don’t want to have anything to do with politics,” which translated means, I’m going to sit on the sidelines and watch as other people get in the fight. Cranmer did not do that. He was discerning, he was wise and he loved God. We have much to learn from this man, and I was encouraged to study his life and what led to his death after this lecture.