Thursday, November 22, 2007

What is the antidote to youthful passions?

Find that and we find the way to deal with the infection in the church, and in our own hearts. Three foundations for Pastor Tim, and for us...

V24 – To be the Lord's servant.
V19 – The Lord's firm foundation, he knows his people.
V25 – The Lord gives repentance, so we don't have to beat it out of people.
The antidote to gangrene, and more importantly to the arrogant quarrelsome teacher is the Sovereignty of God. The power of God wielded through his unchained word.The unashamed worker v24 is the Lord's servant, he must serve under the sovereign rule of God. He presents himself, v15, to God. He is not autonomous. He is dependent on the word of God. The sovereignty of God is central to the dynamics of change.

And he believes two key things that transform his ministry. Firstly, v19. That the Lord knows his people. People love to draw lines and it is necessary at times, and possible. We deliberately unite as a Christian Union for mission around the gospel. People lie about what they believe. But God knows us. He knows our hearts. And he wont be messed with – notice, v19 – those who confess the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness. We are accountable to God – by grace called to a holy calling.

People look independently minded but God speaks. And he says – he has people who are his and he knows his people. We are not our own. This is a real 'take your hands off' doctrine to be believed. People are not ours. Not our hall group. Not our CU. God's hall group. God's CU. God's church. No-one can fault God's concern for his people – the Son sent into the world to save the worst of sinners. Do we believe that God's people are God's people? Or does our behaviour say we believe people belong to us?

Secondly, v25, repentance is granted by God. The teacher works in hope of God granting repentance to his people. Repentance. Change of mind 'metanoia'.
See it in the story of Esau in Hebrews 12. There he sins, is full of tears but is not given repentance by God. There the application is if you deliberately sin don't presume you will be able to repent.

Same teaching here – God gives repentance but with different application. God gives repentance so you teach the word of God and let God bring repentance.
Faith comes by hearing the word of God not by the persuasive powers of people. That's how change will happen in others, and how it will happen in us. My heart will only change as God wields his sovereign power through his word.

Are these the sprouts we can't swallow? Do you want control? Or will you incline your heart to God's word to believe? Will you, join Timothy, in believing in the Big God. When we think people are big and God is small then we'll resort to clinical arrogance or cosy inaction with one another. But, when we sees the glory of the sovereign God then how could we do anything but embrace inky and kind ministry - 2v24-25, teaching with patience and gentleness. Timothy must do that with Philetus and Hymaneus.

Some error is deliberate. Other error is like Apollos who was ignorant. He needed to be taught. Priscilla & Aquila taught him. Growth happens in community – we all need people who will rub God's ink in our faces. It means when I work with Christian Unions I'm less interested in big strategic things and in helping the Committee run things well. Instead I want to get God's ink in their hearts, developing their beliefs, leading them to the wise decisions they need to make.

The souls of men and women are in the hands of God not at the mercy of any of our powers of persuasion but rather in the blood of Jesus and the word of God. God's reputation is at stake in the way we handle the word of God and the people of God. Our behaviour shows our belief.

I want to be like that Beer-drinking Bible-freak Martin Luther who led the Reformation for us 490 years ago. He said: -- I taught the word. Apart from that I did nothing. As I slept and drank Wittenberg Beer the word did everything.

That's what the Lord's servant does –teaches the word of God to the people of God trusting that God will change people. And Timothy can only be the Lord's servant because God first saved him. Because God gave Timothy repentance. When God is big, when we believe he changes hearts by his word then [as Dan Hames says] "we'll see minds explode, hearts ignite, and faces go all smiley".

How does the way you treat the people of God and the word of God reveal your belief in God?

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