It’s been a moment since we have been in the Pastoral Epistles.
We made the distinction between the two letters, written by Paul, to the young pastor of the church of Ephesus. First letter to Timothy was Paul’s instruction and guidance on how elders and deacons are to minister to the church–including the qualifications and character of the ministers. We are in chapter 3 of the second letter to Timothy. In it, Paul revealing to young pastor what does it mean when God has called us to minister to one another.
You and I might not be pastors but we are still ministers because those who love God and saved by God are saints of God:
Ephesians 4:11-13 (CSB) And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
Second Timothy marks and identifies the saint according to being saved by God (1:8-12), trained by God (1:13-2:2), given a new life by God (2:3-19), chosen and elected by God (2:20-26), and sanctified and refined by God (3:1-12). All of salvation and life and goodness are from God not according to anything we have done but because of God who alone is good. In these markings, we should give thanks and worship and praise to God–which Paul does right off the bat in 2 Timothy 1:1-7.
But because God has saved us and called us to minister, the work of God in the saint, in the minister is not done, not by a long shot.
Let us look at the effectual calling by God on us.
2 Timothy 3:13–17 (CSB)
13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you,
15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,
17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
If you know me or if you been on this channel for a while, you know I grew up Charismatic (Assemblies of God)–yes I think the gifts of the Spirit are still here today mostly because if for nothing else, the word of God did not declare them to cease. I could go off church history and perhaps other people’s experience and point to that as proof positive that the gifts of the Spirit have been stopped. But I also know that Christ said that the power of the Spirit, comes and goes as He pleases and you will see the effects of this power and not a moment before. So if God was silent for 400 years between the Old and New Testament, then I see where the Holy Spirit throughout the NT church has either pulled away or moved mightily through the people of God whom God has set his gracious affections upon since before Genesis 1:1.
Within that, as a Charismatic, I know that God speaks to his people even today. And you might ask, “Joseph, we don’t hear the voice of God anymore. How can that be?” My wife made an astute observation upon this subject: “When God communicates, is it always through some sort of voice? No. Majority of the time, it is through the Scriptures, through others, through the turning of the heart, the redirection of affections and desires, or then changing of the mind.” I know I hear from God. It is a clear as a bell. But the vast of majority of time, it is through the word, my heart being redirected, my mind changed, my soul’s desire–these are all effects of the Spirit’s power within us.
Romans 8:16 (CSB) The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children…
I say all of that to say this:
John 10:27 (CSB) My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.
I have never used this passage to proof that God speaks to his people. Because you know why? That ain’t what the verse is about.
John 10:25-30 (CSB) “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
I always called this the “double snatch grip of salvation” by the Father and the Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are in the Almighty Triune hands of God. And to get that to that, like Noah, Abraham, Paul, and Peter, we are all called by God to himself. All of us were born on a wide path to destruction and unto to death. God, in his amazing great and perfect strength, will need to call us away from our foolishness and sin in order to save us to himself forevermore.
Believe that there are two paths in this life: your own way unto death or the gospel calling by Christ unto life. There ain’t no third way–I don’t care what the Catholics or Mormons say.
2 Timothy 3:13–17 (CSB)
13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Several times in my life, I have had brothers and sisters in Christ, try to give great grace to false teachers, “imposters” as Paul puts it, that they are sincerely doing what they think is right and good and teaching and preaching the word of God. But that is not what the word says. Imposters and evil people might think they can fool others and Christians some of the time but they cannot fool God. As Christ said:
Luke 6:45 (CSB) A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.
And as Paul quotes David:
Romans 3:13-14 (CSB) Their throat is an open grave; they deceive with their tongues. Vipers’ venom is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
Sooner or later, the real fruit of the person’s heart will overflow. By no means can we judge a person’s salvation by their good works. They might just be a good, moral person. But if someone calls themselves a Christian and yet you never see repentance for their sin, I assure you unless they stop fooling themselves and repent and turn to God, they will burn under the wrath of Jesus Christ.
And again, I say there is no third, neutral way in this life. And those who choose their own way beget more and more destruction. Maybe you and I can’t see it but what about in the person’s mind, soul, and heart falls to corruption and they deny God, believe that He doesn’t exist. Romans 1 says that we all suppress the truth of righteousness. We were born that way.
Yet, when the effectual, powerful, saving calling of God comes to one of his people, in the precise moment of God’s timing, it grabs our attention and jerks our head around. In that moment, you know. In that moment, you have a new heart and new desires and faith because God the Father placed that in you so that you can remain with him forever.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
If you believe and trust and obey Jesus Christ, you are no longer on the path of evil people and imposters or as Paul also says, “those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on things of the flesh.” (Romans 8:1-13)
You are now on a new path that is to actual real life, fullness of joy, and pleasures evermore. (Psalm 16:11) This is your assignment:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed.
Press into your belief in God. What about doubts or little faith? Don’t expand on the doubt, cry out to God and pray that he gives you ears to hear and eyes to see. Be like the little girl’s father, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” Just in the crying out to God for him to come save you to Him, it only means that you are saved by God. Your heart before knowing him couldn’t call on the Lord because you did not know the Lord. But you know the Lord because you are his sheep and the sheep know his voice.
I have a secret that I don’t like to share in mixed company. Secretly, deep down inside, I think I might be a Presbyterian. Now, before you shut me down and boot me out the door, I am not about sprinkling babies. However, in that moment, when the declaration of baptism of the infant, that while they are NOT saved by baptism, they do belong in the community of faith within the covenantal promises of God Almighty, In other words, when a child is born into a family of believers, that child will never not know the love of God. Is that knowledge enough to save the child? No. But it is distinct grace that God gives to those children.
If you were born into a believing family, please give thanks to God for He is good and his steadfast love continues forever.
Some of you were born into a home with a family Bible on the coffee table. Praise be to God. But some of you are like me where in my home with porn mags on the coffee table. I was exposed to porn when I was 8 years old.
Yet, always despite our circumstances and our environment growing up, it is the same God who saves both into his family.
and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Because some of us, by God’s grace, were born into a believing family, knowing the sacred Scriptures, we know the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (CSB) For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.
Let me tell you something, whether we were born in a family of believers or heathens, every single one of us have to be born again. Maybe you didn’t know Christ since your physical infancy but you’ve know him since your spiritual infancy. Praise be to God!
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Or Leonard Ravenhill says it this way:
“One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed. We have adopted the convenient theory that the Bible is a Book to be explained, whereas first and foremost it is a Book to be believed (and after that to be obeyed).”
All of the teaching, the preaching, books, commentaries, videos, podcasts, live streams, private Christian schools, Bible colleges, seminaries, or especially me yelling at you is not going to save you. This is not “salvation by explanation” alone. That is not a tenet or the faith.
Let’s start off by asking: Do we even read the Bible?
“Joseph, I tried reading in a year. Leviticus is too hard.” Okay, have you just picked it up and read a little chunk ever day. Even better still, when you get to a passage that is hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), do you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what it means?
Look, on this channel, I have told you over and over again: you are not going to going to know the Bible on your own. I don’t care what your IQ is or how many degrees you might have, you are not going to know the word of God unless the Holy Spirit gives you that understanding and writes it on your heart. What good is knowledge if you don’t live by knowing God.
We must pick up the Scriptures and believe. We must trust the Lord. We must obey the gospel commandment of Christ. We must believe the words of God, that inspired and breathed out by God, and is eternally profitable for God to teach us, to rebuke us, to correct us, to train us in righteousness, so that you and I will be complete and equipped for every good work, which God has prepared ahead of time for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
1. What is to believe? Is it the same as knowing?
2. Read Romans 1:17. What do you think the Lord meant by saying, "The righteous will live by faith?"
3. In other words, is it possible to believe something and not live by that belief?
4. How can we believe God?
Show me and change my heart so that I can love you and love others like you love them. Amen.