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An overseer! — 1Timothy 3:1-7

An overseer! — 1Timothy 3:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 7, 2017

When we think of leadership in our day and age we sometimes do not have a very good opinion or view of it and it is only natural considering what we see in politics, in entertainment, in business, or in sports. In fact there are religious leaders that have left a sour taste in our mouths as well. But should leadership get such a bad rap from us? Paul would say, “No.”

Continuing his instructions to Timothy on how a church should act Paul relates who should be considered as leaders. He knew the entire world would be looking at the early church. Christians would need to be above any criticism. In other words they had to be like Jesus if they proclaimed the gospel message of Jesus to the world. Let’s see what Paul said about being an overseer…

READ: 1Timothy 3:1-7

The word overseer is not used much in our day and age and when it is used we have a tendency to think it means a slave driver or task master, nothing could be further from the truth. Here we will discover that it means the leader of a local church, a pastor. Paul gives Timothy several guidelines for when a church is looking for a pastor and he relates that…

I. An overseer must be well-balanced! (Vv. 1-3)

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

1. Paul begins this section by stating “Here is a trustworthy saying” which was a familiar phrase people of his day used in order to acquire the listener’s or hearer’s attention to what the speaker is about to teach. So Paul is writing to Timothy to listen up because what he is about to teach him is important. “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble” or good “task.” The term overseer (episkopos) is sometimes translated “bishop”. It is one of several words used in the New Testament to describe church leaders. “Elders” (presbyteroi) is the most common. Other words are “rulers” (proistamenoi), “leaders” (hēgoumenois) and “pastors” (poimenas). They are seen as interchangeable. So Paul is writing to Timothy a pastor about what it takes to be a good pastor. He continues by writing that “the overseer must be above reproach” in the world they would minister. Jewish husbands would divorce their wives for burning their dinner and the Greeks or Romans hopped from one relationship to another without a thought of the emotional, mental, or spiritual toll it took. Therefore the pastor should be “the husband of but one wife” meaning that he should only be a one woman man when the church would consider him for service. This phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity and Paul didn’t write a man could never be divorced or that divorce was the unpardonable sin that some churches make it out to be, but rather the man they were considering should be married to one woman! He should also be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, [and] not a lover of money”. Leaders of the church must be self-controlled, ethical, moral, godly men who can lead not just through their speaking ability but through the wisdom they garner as they follow Jesus! An overseer must be well-balanced!

EXAMPLE: As my mama was making biscuits one day I came into the kitchen to gripe about my brother bugging me. With flour, eggs, baking powder, and salt my mother made the best biscuits ever. As she listened to me she reminded me that “You and your brother need to strike the right balance with one another instead of always trying to strike one another. You both are made of the same basic ingredients just like my biscuits, but not all biscuits come out the same even if they have the same ingredients. You have to be the one to strike the right balance in life.” Paul knew that a life that is spiritually proportional that is defined and in the way God desires is a life that is worthy of respect. In a world that was often guided by its own lusts, desires, and personal wants Paul knew that the early church would face an uphill battle. An overseer must be well-balanced!

There are men who can direct large companies, invest large amounts of money, or invent all kinds of things but are not able to lead their own families. Paul knew that a pastor who was entrusted with the church of Jesus must have certain qualities and one essential was that…

II. An overseer must direct his family well! (Vv. 4-5)

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

1. I have often found it amusing that churches will put a humongous emphasis on a leader’s marital situation or his ability to speak well but ignore what kind of a husband, person, and parent the man is! However Paul related that this is a very important part of considering someone for leadership as a pastor! Notice again the emphasis on the leader of the pastor as being a male: “HE must manage HIS own family”. Paul did not say that women could not be leaders in the church but the pastor should be a man. It goes back to the idea of who is the leader and assumes responsibility for the direction of the church. The church is like a family. After writing about how a marriage and family is to work and how husbands are to love their wives and wives honor their husbands Paul writes that just as a man leaves his mother and father and forms a home with his wife, the individual leaves behind the world and becomes part of God’s family the church! “This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32 NIV) The idea here in 1Timothy is that the man should be able to stand before his family as an example of what a husband and father are supposed to be. He is to maintain and preside over his family as a consistent figure “and see that his children obey him with proper respect”. Now I have learned that respect is earned and not forced. It is earned over days, weeks, and years of being the father and husband a man should be. Far too many churches suffer because their pastors cannot lead their own families. Their children are disobedient, disrespectful, and disloyal. Paul rightly suggests that “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” And the answer is that he can’t. Pastors should have families that reflect their Godly leadership and not their sinful tyranny. An overseer must direct his family well!

EXAMPLE: Families are like symphonies. There are highs and lows, sometimes they can be fast-paced or slow but they are always on the verge of reaching a crescendo. The beat goes on. And like a symphony a family needs a conductor to make sure all the participants are in sync. Paul knew that the church was like a family and needed someone to direct, lead, and keep it safe. Paul knew that an overseer must direct his family well!

Just as we would not want a brand new graduate that has had not been an intern and assisted in surgeries do heart surgery on us for the first time we should not want someone that has not had some kind of experience or background in ministry, preaching, and leading to be our pastor. Plus we should want a surgeon that has a good reputation just as a pastor ought to. In fact, Paul writes that…

III. An overseer must be well thought of! (Vv. 6-7)

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

1. How a pastor walks within their personal relationships is important but so is how they are seen in the community around them. Also, in order to be well-acquainted with spiritual teaching and spiritual matters one should have some kind of track record. You can often hear or read it in the immature wisdom of the newly indentured seminary student as they express their myriad of theological opinions they have recently been exposed to. In other words as Paul would write, “He must not be a recent convert”. And there are several reasons for this: “he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” Of course Paul is referring to the conceitedness of Satan whereby he thinks of himself as an equal with God! How his knowledge and standing corrupted his very nature and made him into the evil and corrupted being he is. The Devil forgot he was created and not the Creator! Mankind can do this as well. Paul saw this in the edicts of the Roman Emperors his world had to deal with in viewing themselves as gods – kind of like Congress. Overseers in the church should never ever see themselves as above their congregation or the community they minister to. In fact this is why I am glad that a lot of pastors are electing to preach from the main floor of their churches rather than being “high and lifted up”. This was and is from medieval times whereby the congregation was to be separated from the minister and the minister “above” his flock! They would even elevate the pastor and he would climb a special stairway to his pulpit! However, Paul reminds us that the pastor should also be seen in his community as approachable and writes that “He must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.” Paul writes that an overseer must be well thought of!

EXAMPLE: Abraham Lincoln said that “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Joseph Hall a 15th century English preacher wrote that “A reputation once broken my possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep an eye on the spot where the crack was.” And my dad reiterated that “our reputation is what others think of us but our character is what God knows about us.” In his letter to his friend Timothy Paul wrote that an overseer must be well thought of!

Conclusion:

An overseer must be well-balanced! An overseer must direct his family well! An overseer must be well thought of!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Know your role! — 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Know your role! — 1 Timothy 2:8-15
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 29, 2017

We all have different roles in life, some we like while others we may not like as much. In our world today there are those who are trying to redefine roles that have been in effect for thousands of years. What we used to think of as an absolute truism that was founded in biology and by the providence of God liberal society has redefined and pushed the boundaries of what was once thought of as foundational. Sadly it has become difficult to preach or teach on what Paul taught his friend Timothy concerning roles between men and women.

In order to fully understand what Paul wrote we cannot allow our emotions or today’s politically correct definitions color what Paul taught and why he taught what he did. The church Timothy pastored and the area it was founded in was one of rampant paganism based on slavery and the subjugation of women as property. To force our preconceived modern-day notions on the world of Paul is a fallacy. In fact if you know history you know that the Christian faith changed all of these accepted social norms of Paul’s day. Let’s discover what Paul wrote about knowing your role…

READ: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Whether we like it or not psychology, sociology, and history has proven that while men and women can often do the same task and do them quite well, men and women do have defined roles that work best when they are adhered to. One such is that children in fact do need a mom and a dad, a male and a female presence in the home. Statistically children raised in such an environment are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, display less violence and rebellion, do better in school, and go on to college. They are far more likely to have a stable family environment of their own as well. Let’s see what Paul writes the early church concerning…

I. The role of Christian men! (Vv. 2:8, 13-15)

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing… For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

1. This passage is often misunderstood but it is really quite simple. Paul knew in a church where the background of the people was not one of honoring one God, one Creator, and the Messiah but rather was focused on a myriad of gods and a dog-eat-dog style of living there would be a radical change because of Jesus. Some folks would be confused. So Paul begins by telling them, “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing”. Men were to be the examples for the rest of the church. Paul knew the home, society, and government was primarily the duty of the men. He is not arguing who or what is better but rather what was in fact true. Men were to lead in their worship, why? Paul writes that it is because “Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Certainly all believers should “lift up holy hands in prayer” but Paul was addressing the fact that men were to be the example like Adam was supposed to be. “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Paul is referring to the creation account of the fall of all mankind. He is not absolving Adam’s sinful stupidity or saying that Eve was more gullible and therefore guiltier. He is reminding them of what occurred. Both sinned. God told Eve, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NIV) And he scolded Adam by telling him, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life… By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17, 19 NIV) Both would be punished “But women will be saved through childbearing” [because of the coming of the Messiah] “if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety”. Not just for eternal salvation but in finding personal contentment in the roles given to both. Paul teaches about the role of men.

EXAMPLE: We cannot allow chauvinism to dictate to us that women or men should be treated differently however within the church and within the family there are well defined roles. Women are far more nurturing and men are more single-minded. Women can focus on several things and be aware of what is going on while men are often so focused on one thing they can miss what is going on around them. I had to laugh because while we were at Disneyland there were parents of about four little ones riding Pirates of the Caribbean. The dad was so focused on the ride he missed the fact one child was leaning over the side trying to drink the water and another was trying to crawl into the seat behind them. Now the mother while holding two other little ones on her lap grabbed the one heading to the back while rescuing the one trying to drink the water. As she grabbed them both she deftly thumped her husband on the head and requested that he “pay a little more attention to your children”. He grinned and apologized. Paul teaches us the role of Christian men here in Timothy.

While there are exceptions to every rule there are certain truisms that remain well the same. Far too many men have given up their role of being the male influence while many women have forsaken being the feminine influence thinking that it has little significance in our day and age. In fact recent studies suggest that there is indeed a strong biological tendency for boys to act like boys and girls to act like girls – go figure! Here in Timothy’s letter Paul suggests…

II. The role of Christian women! (Vv. 9-12)

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

1. Now here is something that is sadly kind of shocking in our day that Paul would want women too dress with some kind of decorum. He writes, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety”. The idea here is not one of supporting certain fashion statements over another but rather again he is referring to the fact of the culture Timothy ministered in. Greek women did not always dress modestly. Paul was addressing the fact that Christian men and women should be different than the world around them. Believers are not to try to blend in to the point that they join in the disgusting social norms of the world. I have to be honest I was saddened by the way some of the women dressed in Disneyland. In Paul’s day Greek women would spend a lot of their time, money, and efforts on the way they looked; so much so that a lot of money was wasted on their fashions. So he writes that Christian women should not spend their time on “braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God”. Paul is not giving us a Christian fashion statement here; rather he is trying to teach that Christian women are to focus on God first and not their appearance. Their faith would be seen in their actions! In fact Paul would write that “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.” Now before you want to club me to death what Paul is writing here is that the Christian woman should be able to hold herself in check emotionally, spiritually, and physically. And he goes on to shockingly say that “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Wow is Paul an old chauvinist or what? And the answer is “nope in fact quite the opposite”. Paul was not talking about teaching a Sunday School Class but rather those who would try to lord it over their husbands. Instead a believing wife should be willing to reign in herself in order for her husband to fulfill the role he is supposed to! The wife is not to be a doorstop nor a bully but a partner. Paul suggests the role for Christian women.

EXAMPLE: You can learn a lot of things by listening or asking questions of folks while waiting in lines. Again, while at Disneyland I overheard a kind of rough-looking older woman speaking to two younger college-aged girls in line. They were talking about their tattoos. One girl asked the older woman if she regretted getting some of her “tats” and she immediately responded, “Yes.” She regretted it she explained because the ones she had no longer represented who she was. She went on to say that she had gotten most of them before she came to Christ and they now represented those things she was completely opposed to. She was adorned with skulls, the words “Death”, “Hell”, and something about dying young. One rather large one depicted a scene with demons, flames, drugs, and rock and roll. “Plus,” she went on, “I would not have gotten so many.” Now I am not either for tattoos or against them but this woman depicted exactly what Paul was trying to teach here in his letter to Timothy of just how a Christian woman is supposed to act. Christian women are to reflect Jesus and here Paul suggests the role for Christian women.

Conclusion:

Here in Paul’s letter to Timothy we discover the role of Christian men and the role of Christian women.

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 15, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, prayer is our conversation with the Creator of the universe. However I often wonder not only what should I pray for but whom should I pray for as well. Now there are few of us who would not think it beneficial to pray for politicians but this is what I mean; we are faced with the conundrum of what we should pray! Now Jesus never suggested who we should or should not pray for but rather his encouragement was that we simply pray as often as we should.

Paul faced a lot of harassment for his faith. There were his old Jewish cronies who wanted to see him simply to shut up about his faith and then there were the kings, potentates, and pundits of his day that wanted him silenced as well. Yet Paul could not be quiet because he realized that the gospel message of Jesus was for all people everywhere. Paul however did not have the luxury of deciding who he should or shouldn’t pray for because he knew he was commanded to pray for all people. Let’s discover what he writes Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

A few months ago, a Regent graduate asked people to send her prayers for President Donald Trump and they poured in from all over the world, enough to fill a book titled “Prayers for the President.” With that in common, about five dozen of these prayer warriors felt it’d be a good idea to gather in Washington and actually meet each other in person and pray for the President. They called the event “Tea at Trump’s” which took place in the new Trump International Hotel. Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

I. Pray for potentates and politicians! (Vv. 1-4)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1. Because Paul knew believers could be easily swayed from following the truth by those they had looked up to in life and that there were those like “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [he had] handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”, he realized the importance of prayer. So he writes Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone”! Some have seen a difference between each of what Paul listed here and have tried to say that this is a inventory of examples of prayer. “Requests” are supplications or pleas, “prayers” is literally the “breath” of the petitioner to God, “intercession” is the entreaty of the one praying, and “thanksgiving” is the gratitude expressed by the one praying to God. Therefore the believer is to plead, cry out, intercede, and thank God “for kings and all those in authority”! Say, what? Everyone means everyone including those who are our national leaders. The Christian, Paul writes, is to pray for those in charge “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”! So is Paul asking Timothy to remember to pray for those in charge so we might enjoy their non-interference in our lives or is he asking Timothy to pray for them that the nation we live in would enjoy peace and quiet? Both work for me. Who wants any politician, whether a king or an elected official prying into one’s affairs? However our attitude about praying for those over us reflects in our spiritual condition as well: “in all godliness and holiness”! But shouldn’t believers desire that those in charge do a good job of leading? Yes but more than that, Paul wanted all people to come to a knowledge of Jesus and he writes that “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” When we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

EXAMPLE: When asked to pray during a local veterans meeting for their Congressmen one old gentleman stood up, leaned on his cane, and prayed, “Lord, give us strength, compassion, and patience but especially with those in Congress. Let them stop being such nincompoops who go on TV spouting all kinds of nonsense and promises they will never keep until you just want to smack them across the head with a bag full of quarters – which by the way is change I can believe in!” I’m not sure this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote what he did to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

When a lady who was a known prayer warrior was asked if it was hard for her to pray for people she did not necessarily like, she responded, “I just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman church: ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’” (Romans 12:12 NIV) Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

II. Pray for the wayward of the world! (Vv. 5-7)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

1. Now one might ask “Why should we pray for those who ruin our lives, enslave us through governmental regulation, and generally make our lives miserable?” — meaning of course politicians. Yet our prayers are to be made for “everyone” including and especially for those who rule over us! Whether you voted for an Obama or a Trump you should be in prayer for both! They need Jesus too! But we must never lose sight of what our message is, namely that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men”! Peter told the crowd in Jerusalem the undeniable truth that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV) Not Buddha, Mohammed, or Joseph Smith can save any man, only Jesus can save, because Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all men”! The “testimony” of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was “given in its proper time”. Paul would marvel that “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV) Even politicians! Paul would remind Timothy that “for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle”. Paul was not like those who wanted to lure or lie to new believers in order to confuse them about their faith but in fact he was “telling the truth” and he was “not lying” to them like others had done. Paul was “a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” and to all people! Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

EXAMPLE: There are few folks who absolutely knew what they wanted to be when growing up. For those who did it has always kind of mystified me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized God was calling me into the ministry. If you would have asked me when I was younger I did not have a clue what I wanted to be and I tried several different things. The reason I mention this is that the world at large often does not realize its need for a Savior. While many may profess some kind of belief in God, few can relate to you what that means. This is why we are told to go into all the world teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus. It is also why Paul related to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

Conclusion:

Pray for potentates and politicians! Pray for the wayward of the world!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Hold on to the truth! – 1 Timothy 1:12-20

Hold on to the truth! – 1 Timothy 1:12-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 8, 2017

Like a lot of things in our society today, the truth has become subjective; truth depends upon how one feels, whether or not one thinks they are justified in whatever perverted proclivity they desire for the moment, or the deliberate movement of society’s moral boundaries. In a world where truth can be a slippery slope of a mixed bag of tricks one many wonder where in the world does the truth lie? What truth do we hold on to in our day and age?

Paul was a convert to the Christian faith and it wasn’t an easy thing for him to do. He knew where he had come from and in the Book of Acts he related “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.” (Acts 26:9-11 NIV) That was the truth Paul had known but he now had learned to hold onto a different truth, one that was revealed to him by Jesus. Let’s see how he tells Timothy to hold on to the truth…

READ: 1 Timothy 1:12-20

I could never figure out how in the world my parents could figure out what I had been up to until I got to be parent and then I realized it was because, as hard as it could be to fathom, they had been kids at one time as well! Nothing is hidden from someone who has already been there and done that; it was then I realized like Paul did in his relationship with Jesus that…

I. The truth exposes ignorance and unbelief! (Vv. 12-14)

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

1. Far from persecuting believers Paul had become one himself and now he could honestly relate that “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord”. The Messiah had saved him for a purpose. His purpose would be to reach the non-Jew, the gentiles of Asia Minor. It was Jesus who had given him “strength” to face those who now would doubt his conversion or question his integrity to the faith. In fact Jesus “considered” Paul “faithful”. So much so Jesus called Paul “to his service”. No greater endorsement could Paul have been given than that of Jesus and Paul had it “even though [he] was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man”, he was “shown mercy” by Jesus “because [he had] acted in ignorance and unbelief”! What had turned Paul around was his exposure to the truth in the form of Jesus! Remember while Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Jesus had already affirmed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) Paul had a face-to-face meeting with the Messiah while on his way to Damascus to persecute the church! But now he could boldly proclaim that “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” What Paul had once held dear in life no longer mattered compared to knowing the truth of Jesus as his Messiah! Paul knew the truth exposes ignorance and unbelief!

EXAMPLE: These past few weeks have been kind of different for me. I suppose it happens whenever anyone has to be examined in such an intimate and personal way. Being a very private person it was really embarrassing especially when I had to be in my birthday suit! I had to undergo a biopsy for the possibility of prostate cancer. After they took sonograms I told the doctor they had better not end up on Facebook! I am sorry if that makes you uncomfortable but I share this to say that sometimes total exposure can be totally disconcerting. Paul understood because the truth exposes ignorance and unbelief!

Sometimes in life we all need forgiveness for something. Compassion and understanding comes when we realize we need God’s forgiveness. Remember Paul said he was “shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief” and that the “grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love”. Paul clearly understood that…

II. The truth gives mercy to sinners! (Vv. 15-17)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1. From where Paul had come from and where he was now in his life was a complete 180 degree turn around. He knew his past of being the “worst of sinners” and so “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance”, namely that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. He now realized that his personal vendetta against believers had come from his own selfish ambition. Remember he described it as an “obsession”. In fact Paul “began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3 NIV) Whole families were taken away from their homes and persecuted by him in the past and the early church had not trusted him at first. “But for that very reason [Paul] was shown mercy so that in [him], the worst of sinners” Jesus might be glorified by the “display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life”. Paul now understood that Jesus loved sinners like him and had died and rose again for them and therefore him! What an extremely unimaginable thing to have happen! Paul would write, “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9 NIV) Paul knew that Jewish tradition taught a strict adherence to the Mosaic Law and therefore taught a completely different view. Paul now realized that the truth gives mercy to sinners!

EXAMPLE: We live in a world where folks want to be loved but few understand unconditional love. Many think love is found in lust, feelings, or by getting others to do things for them that they like. In fact there is a false notion that if couples live together first they will fall in love and their cohabitation will therefore be stronger. Contrary to the liberal mythos out there that wants you to think that this is true, it isn’t. In fact living together creates unresolved issues of trust, consistency, and commitment. Plus children created from these inconsistent relationships have problems of trust, consistency, and commitment in life. No wonder many in our day and age have a problem understanding that Jesus loves them unconditionally. Paul teaches us the truth gives mercy to sinners!

The message that Jesus brought is powerful not only because of what it offers but what it actually does. Paul would write that “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24 NIV) this is the truth of God and Paul teaches us that…

III. The truth never allows a lie! (Vv. 18-20)

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

1. Paul knew Timothy and knew him well enough that he could confidently write to Timothy as if he were his own child and so he writes “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you”. Timothy had been called to the ministry and those around him evidently had testified and spoken to this fact. Later we will learn that Paul would tell Timothy “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic (or uttered) message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV) More about this later, but we see that Paul had come to know Timothy personally and intimately enough he could write him in this way. Paul also knew Timothy was young and inexperienced and immature in some areas of his ministry. Timothy needed to be reminded that he needed to remember the spoken words of others that were made concerning him “so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience”. Paul would use the metaphor of being in a fight several times in his letters. He understood the consequences and the spiritual battle involved because “Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.” For whatever reason some of the early believers either never believed, were easily swayed, or were threatened to the point of denying their faith! Evidently “Among them [were] Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [Paul had] handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”. To deny Jesus after saying you believed in his sacrifice and salvation was the height of blaspheme, in fact Jesus taught to know he was the Messiah and then to deny him “would never be forgiven”. (Mark 3:28-29 NIV) Were these men redeemable? Perhaps this is why Paul spiritually handed them over to Satan “to be taught not to blaspheme” literally lie about Jesus when they had said they had believed the truth of Jesus! The truth never allows a lie!

EXAMPLE: For my father one of the worst things a person could do was to lie especially when it was to cover up something they knew could harm others. My sister could lie about anything, anytime, to anyone when she thought it benefited her. She was a rebellious teenager. We were all lined up and questioned about who had broken my mother’s prize cookie jar. We all said we did not do it. In fact I was wondering just when Mom made cookies to put in the cookie jar so that it might be broken when someone was stealing them! Since each of us said it wasn’t “me” all of us suffered the consequences. Many years later my brother and I learned it had been our sister who had done the deed. Even at 64 I still struggle that she was willing to throw us all under the bus by lying. We learn from Paul that the truth never allows a lie!

Conclusion:

The truth exposes ignorance and unbelief! The truth gives mercy to sinners! The truth never allows a lie!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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False teachers exist! – 1 Timothy 1:1-11

False teachers exist! – 1 Timothy 1:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 1, 2017

We live in a day where any convoluted and faulty theology is readily accepted and protected by a non-critical thinking society. My Daddy used to say that it is “okay to be open-minded but not to the point where your brains fall out and you step on them.” Far too many think that acceptance of the individual means we can never disagree with or question what the individual thinks, says, or does. I say “hogwash!” There are false teachers who want you to believe or follow their latest form of theological perversion. Take for instance the recent proclamation that the world was supposed to end last week or is it next week or the week after? Who knows? And do not get me started with those who come up with the latest and greatest end-times scenario, bleah! False teachers exist!

The Apostle Paul wrote his friend and new pastor Timothy in order to mentor and help him in his new ministry as a young pastor. Evidently he was facing some problems that needed some attention. Paul had come to Derbe and Lystra with Barnabas and had become acquainted with Timothy who plainly was a talented young man that God had called to be one of the early church’s first pastors. One of the early arguments against Christianity and Paul was that Paul was teaching a different gospel than Jesus had taught. Theological purity was absolutely necessary and Paul’s detractors knew it. Unlike our day where any view is validated, one did not stray from their master’s teachings in Paul’s day and even in Paul’s day false teachers existed, let’s see what that means…

READ: 1 Timothy 1:1-11

Far from disagreeing to the color of the mat in the foyer or what kind of timbrel to use in worship music the discussion in Paul’s day often went to the core of who Jesus was, what he taught, and what this meant. Paul lets us know that…

I. False teachers exist to promote false teaching! (Vv. 1-4)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work–which is by faith.

1. Like most letters of his day Paul immediately introduces himself and his bona fides; his legitimacy and credentials for addressing the issue in which he wrote his letter to Timothy about. Namely that he was in fact “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope”. My Dad used the bona fides of “because I said so” and that was good enough for us! However, Paul was an apostle sent out by the Messiah Jesus by the strict command of God! His letter was to “Timothy my true son in the faith”. Paul is letting anyone who questions Timothy about his bona fides that he was Paul’s “true son in the faith” and not some false teacher! And he continues by telling them “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul was not in this for himself unlike his counterfeit contenders. So Paul tells Timothy, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” Timothy’s job as a pastor was to make sure the gospel was taught truthfully and adhered to Jesus’ teachings. Some within Timothy’s church or in the area where he ministered wanted to drag them away from the “grace, mercy and peace” of Jesus and back into endless arguments about superstitions, fables, and family lineages! Paul knew if Timothy stood firm in the truth of the gospel, these heresies would fade because false teachers exist to promote false teaching!

EXAMPLE: Recently as I was taking a nap in my easy-chair when two finely dressed young ladies came to my front door. I was half-asleep with an unshaven beard and I could have sworn flies were lighting on me as I coughed and scratched my stomach while heading to the door. In the fog off my half-asleep mind I still immediately realized who they were and what they represented. One sweetly smiled at me and proceeded to hand me a tablet she used to pull up a video clip. “I have a short video to share with you…” but before she could get out another word I remarked, “Jesus is Jehovah to me.” The made a hasty retreat. False teachers exist to promote false teaching!

Interestingly much of what is taught today about the return of Jesus comes from the likes of

Jehovah’s Witnesses or Seventh Day Adventism rather than what is actually written within Scripture. Rather than teaching what the Bible actually says some authors are more interested in advancing themselves. Paul teaches us that…

II. False teachers exist to promote themselves! (Vv. 5-7)

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

1. Contrary to the fables, superstitions, and endless arguments about genealogies Paul tells Timothy that “The goal of this command [of Jesus] is love”! Wow what a difference between the good news of Jesus and the heavy load of superstition and Jewish fascination with minutiae and trivial arguments! These things are man-focused while the gospel “comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” No believer should ever promote themselves over the good news of Jesus and no Christian should ever do it out of selfish ambition or personal gain! The gospel of Jesus is about the truth of God and should always be given in sincerity and purity. Paul reminds Timothy that “Some have wandered away from [having a pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith] and turned to meaningless talk.” These false teachers of Paul’s day had ulterior motives, “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” They were stuck in the past and clung to the notion that they could earn God’s mercy, grace, and peace by doing the same things over and over again but never changing themselves! They feared they would lose the audiences and accolades of the people they had enjoyed. Jesus’ taught that salvation could be found in faith in him and happiness in life was discovered by walking with him in fellowship! What were they supposed to do with their genealogical charts and their endless pontificating concerning what the law was all about? They would lose their standing in the synagogue and their financial support as itinerant teachers! Paul knew that false teachers exist to promote themselves!

EXAMPLE: I confess I do not watch Christian television because there are so many heresies promoted on these channels. However, the other day I was bored and so I turned one on in a moment of weakness and there on the stage was a chubby guy with dyed hair and huge charts and graphs on the wall behind him. He was droning on about Jesus’ return we could be prepared if we just followed his teachings. Of course for a mere $29.95, plus shipping and handling, I could have his latest DVD and book about the subject! I wondered out loud that if his teaching on the subject was so important for the world to know why he didn’t simply give it away free! Then I remembered what Paul told Timothy: False teachers exist to promote themselves!

Many supposedly spiritual books, movies, and seminars are completely ungodly. Far too many in our day and age encourage a quasi Christian hedonism rather than spiritual purity. Paul knew that…

III. False teachers are contrary to sound doctrine! (Vv. 8-11)

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

1. Paul did not have a problem with some of what these men were trying to teach but rather how they applied what they were teaching. Paul knew in fact that “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.” Paul was not an enemy of the Law of Moses, however, these men were not using it to teach about Jesus, but instead they were using it to promote themselves. The law of God was a guidepost and a standard to show our sinful nature. Paul writes that “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious”. Those who followed God had no worries, but the law revealed the ungodly for what they actually were. The Law pulled aside the curtain. Therefore if one used it properly, for the purpose for which it was intended, the law would point them to Jesus! Paul then defines for Timothy what these lawbreakers, rebels, ungodly, sinful, unholy, and irreligious people were! There are those “who kill their fathers or mothers” in order to gain financially. There are “murderers” who kill others without reason; “adulterers” who have sexual relationships outside of their marriages; and “perverts” – this word describes being profane. In other words Paul is describing those who enjoyed and encouraged others to be socially and spiritually deviant. Sound familiar? Paul also included “slave traders and liars and perjurers”. Slavery would end because of Christianity and believers are not to lie or bear false witness ever. Point in fact Paul bluntly remarks that “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to” him as his apostle was evil as well! Paul knew that false teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!

EXAMPLE: Contrary to what some teach today God is not a black woman found in a shack and Jesus is not a hippie. God is more concerned with your spiritual eternity than he is about your emotional state for the moment. It saddens me that far too much of what is taught in churches, books, and Christian materials has more to do with making excuses for our “Christian” hedonism rather than living a holy life for the Lord. We want to mold Jesus into our modern day world and make him into someone he is not. I learned a long time ago from a very godly man than anyone or anything that makes the qualifier of “Jesus and” or “Jesus plus” is the beginning of heresy. In fact we learn from Paul that false teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!

Conclusion:

False teachers exist to promote false teaching! False teachers exist to promote themselves! False teachers are contrary to sound doctrine!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The mystery revealed! – Ephesians 3:1-13

The mystery revealed! – Ephesians 3:1-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 5, 2017

The books and televisions programs of Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and others are fantastic mystery series. I love a good mystery. Trying to figure out who done it, how they did it, and why is great fun for me. I also like a lot of Alfred Hitchcock movies and books as well because of the suspense. Yep, there is nothing like a good mystery; except where God is concerned.

There are many in our day and age and in the past who have tried to lie to mankind and declare only they know the secret or hidden mysteries of God. That all others except themselves need a special book, specific revelation, seer stones, a guide, or advanced teacher to tell us the hidden mysteries of God. Therefore isn’t great to know that the mystery of God has now been revealed through his Son, Jesus? There is nothing hidden, tucked away, or kept from those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus. And here in his letter to the Ephesians Paul tells us all about the mystery revealed!

READ: Ephesians 3:1-13

You can never truly know anyone; even one’s spouse can surprise you once in a while which can be a good thing. The great thing about the gospel message is that it reveals Jesus for who he truly is and Paul knew this to be true as well. He knew that…

I. The mystery of Jesus has been made known by God! (Vv. 1-5)

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

1. Things can be confusing when you do not understand them whether it is some new fangled electronic gadget or something that is theological. In these situations it is often good to have someone who knows the ins and outs, kind of like a mentor, teacher, or guide. Paul understood this, not the electronic gadget part but the theological nuances that would have utterly confused both his Jewish converts but in particular the non-Hebrew gentiles. And so he begins to share with his readers from his own personal experience, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”. He considered himself a prisoner, which he probably was in Rome, of Jesus not just in a criminal sense but also as one called out as a volunteer to be willingly held captive by Jesus. He was held captive not for himself but for their sake! Paul saw his life’s calling as the “administration” as a personal stewardship or trust “of God’s grace”. God had given him this “household task” and “surely” they had “heard about” it! Paul had been made an apostle, messenger, to the Gentiles by Jesus. This grace was the “the mystery made known to (Paul) by revelation, as (he had) already written (them) briefly.” The mystery was that God would come in human form, be born of a virgin, grow to be a man and willingly give his life as a sacrifice for our sins! Also do not forget that Paul at one time did not understand this mystery and in fact had held the cloaks of those who willingly stoned to death one of Jesus’ followers. Only later when he was given instructions by the chief priests to go to Damascus to persecute more of Jesus’ followers did God intervene and call Paul to be his disciple to the Gentiles. And so Paul now tells the Ephesians that “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” The mystery of Jesus has been made known by God!

EXAMPLE: The mystery of the ages is not difficult to understand; the problem is we as believers often make it harder than it is. It is kind of like the old joke about the Rabbi and the Priest who were by the side of a country road holding a sign that read: “The End is Near! Turn around before it’s too late!” and showed it to each passing car. One driver that passed didn’t appreciate the sign and shouted, “Leave us alone you religious nuts!” All of a sudden they heard the screeching of brakes and a big splash. The Rabbi turned to the Priest and asked, “Do you think we should have written: ‘Bridge Out’ instead?” I am so glad that the mystery of Jesus has been made known by God!

The good news, the Gospel message is the mystery revealed. But what exactly does this mystery do and how does it do it? Oh that is a spectacular and most wonderful thing! Paul writes that…

II. He was entrusted to preach this mystery! (Vv. 6-9)

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

1. Paul continued by getting right to the heart of the mystery. He relates that “This mystery is that through the gospel”. What is through the gospel? What is this good news? Namely that “the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel” of all the promises of God! All believers no matter where they come from or their background become the chosen people of God! In fact we are “members together of one body” which is the church, the called out ones by Jesus that form his “body” in the world! Therefore we are all “sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus”! This promise is more than joint heirs of God’s promise to his people it also gives eternal life and the presence and power of God to all who believe! Part of Jesus’ final prayer was when he asked God the Father, “My prayer is not for them alone (meaning his disciples). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NIV) Paul came to understand what this oneness meant as he explains that “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.” God had imparted this mystery to him on the road to Damascus and thereby he became its servant! Now his readers could have wondered why in the world God would do such a thing to someone like Paul. Yet he knew his past and writes that “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”. Paul had been entrusted to preach this mystery! And like Paul we also are “to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things”. He had written his friend Timothy that he was to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV) From the Four Gospel narratives to the Book of Revelation we are entrusted to preach this mystery!

EXAMPLE: It is sad but there have always existed charlatans who would use the gospel for their own purposes; from Ananias and Sapphira to the likes of Peter Popoff there are those motivated to use the mystery of the gospel for their personal greed and power. Remember Paul told his friend Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” He knew a “time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NIV) We are entrusted to preach this mystery!

Jesus had ascended back to his heavenly realm and left his body the church to fulfill the preaching of the gospel mystery. For Paul it was important that his readers understand that…

III. Jesus’ church is entrusted with the message of the mystery! (Vv. 10-13)

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

1. Paul bluntly relates that Jesus’ “intent was that now, through the church (Jesus’ body made up of his called out members), the manifold wisdom of God should be made known”. It is our job to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything (Jesus had) commanded”! (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) Paul writes that this was part and parcel of God’s plan all along, that this “wisdom… should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms”. God made this mystery known to all of the heavenly realm when he came as Jesus and when he died on the cross for our sins “according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord”! If that isn’t a mystery I don’t know what is! The Greek adjective “manifold” (polypoikilos) referred to the beauty of an embroidered pattern or the variety of colors in flowers. God redeemed all the “colorful flowers” of the world; all the patterns of races, colors, and creeds to himself through faith in him! This mystery brought Hebrew and gentile together into one body the church! “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Through faith in Jesus we have the right of freedom, the “courage, boldness” to confidently approach God’s throne! Hebrews reminds us that “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV) This is why Paul writes the Ephesians, “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” He was asking the body of Christ to pray for him a fellow believer! He knew he could because Jesus’ church is entrusted with the message of the mystery!

EXAMPLE: There are those in our day and age who think that the church is a show you come to once in a while in order to feel good about yourself and God. There are others who believe it is a repository where we are to dispense our good deeds to the unwashed world. Or there are those who think that the church is an organization one belongs to in order to gain entrance into certain segments of society or culture. None of these are correct. The church is the body of Christ in the world made up of many members where each does its part for God’s plan that he has for them in the world in order that his message, the gospel, is shared. In this process we come together for worship of him, encouragement of one another, and mentoring to be sent out into the world with his message. Jesus’ church is entrusted with the message of the mystery!

Conclusion:

The mystery of Jesus has been made known by God! We are entrusted to preach this mystery! Jesus’ church is entrusted with the message of the mystery!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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A new hope! – Ephesians 1:1-14

A new hope! – Ephesians 1:1-14
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 1, 2016

It’s a new year, a fresh start, and a time to get rid of the old and in with the new, right? For some it is easier said than done. I have never even in my entire life seen and heard such a crowd of whining sore losers. I used to think that this nation would and could move forward no matter who was elected, and this was after Presidents that I thoroughly disagreed with and who abused and misused their offices to further their personal, sexual, and societal agendas. We have a nation that exhibits an immaturity that needs to be kicked in the rear and told to get over itself. A new President does not mean the end of all things; it only means you get to vote a different scoundrel into office in another four years! There is always a new hope!

We live in a day and age where there is way too much emphasis on self. People would rather have others tell them what to think and do rather than actually figure out for their own selves what the truth is! Paul was one of those folks who used both practical wisdom and theoretical knowledge. He did not allow his emotions to dictate what he believed. Instead he used what he knew to be true to influence how he responded. Paul wanted his readers in Ephesus to understand the new hope they had in Jesus and why it was important for their lives. Let’s discover what Paul wrote and how we today can use his advice concerning a new hope…

READ: Ephesians 1:1-14

Humans have always wondered why God does what he does. When life is going well we do not give a thought to why things happen but when life turns sour we cry out, “Why?” Here in these verses…

I. Paul tells us why we have a new hope! (Vv. 1-6)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

1. Paul began his letter by reinforcing his own calling as “an apostle of Christ Jesus” and let his readers know that it was “by the will of God”. He did not make himself an apostle, one sent out to do the work and will of the Messiah. Rather it was God who had given him the task and mantle. He then addresses those he is writing by reminding them they are “saints” and “the faithful in Christ Jesus”. Sainthood is not reserved for those elected to it by any human organization but rather to all who have believed in Jesus as the Messiah are given the mantle of “saint”. Therefore Paul’s authority came from “the will of God” just as his reader’s holiness did. His desire was “grace and peace” to them both “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace expressed God’s unmerited love directed to those who believed in Jesus and peace is the result of that grace! Paul knew exactly where this grace and peace came from and joyously writes “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Paul then comes to the crux of the matter by relating why God did this wonderful thing: “For he chose us in him”! This grace and peace was all a part of God’s wonderful plan all along, before “the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight”! Wow! God did this “In love” and in fact he “predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ”! We become God’s “holy and blameless” children because of Jesus and this was “in accordance with his pleasure and will–to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” This is why we have a new hope!

EXAMPLE: Far too many seem to think that by doing more thrilling things or by purchasing more exotic experiences that they will find true happiness. Then there are those who feel that new relationships will bring new and exciting results in their lives. What these do is bring us a false sense of hope. However the Bible teaches us that the world was in a hopeless situation until Jesus came. Paul tells us why we have a new hope!

We are a curious group of beings and have always wondered how things work. When faced with a situation to be solved we look for answers. Here in these verses…

II. Paul teaches us the how of our new hope! (Vv. 7-10)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

1. In agreement with God’s perfect pleasure and will he freely gave us hope when we had none! But how is this possible? Paul immediately addresses this question by writing that it is “In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood”. We are bought back with a price! And this gracious Godly coupon is redeemed for our “forgiveness of sins”! We did not earn it, win it, or deserve it! It was because it was “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. It was because of this wondrous work of love that God “lavished” poured out fully “on us with all wisdom and understanding” of his gracious act in Jesus! In other words God has enabled believers to understand his will! In fact Paul relates that God “made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”! Paul would tell the Colossians “My purpose is that (Christians) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3 NIV) The plan of God was “put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment”. That fulfillment was reached in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection! This is why Jesus pronounced while dying on the cross, “It is finished!” Complete. God’s plan was to bring about his will for all of his creation. The words “bring all things… together under one Head” translate one Greek word which literally means the summing up of how God did what he did through Jesus! Jesus is the entire summation of God’s perfect plan! Paul teaches us the how of our new hope!

EXAMPLE: I have been truly amazed at the sheer number of people who could not handle the recent election. It’s as if the end of the world has occurred to them; it concerns me to think what would happen if something truly awful occurred in their lives. It also makes me wonder where in the world they get their hope from. God has given us free of charge hope when we had none. Paul teaches us the how of our new hope!

Wanting to know what is about to happen has fascinated folks for centuries. Some have followed charlatans and phonies with the hope to know what will happen. In these verses…

III. Paul shares with us the what of our new hope! (Vv. 11-14)

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

1. Paul has shared with his readers the why and how of our new hope and now he continues in what has occurred because of Jesus. He writes that it is “In him we were also chosen”. This is more than being God’s chosen to receive the Law it is God’s choosing all of us personally. We all were chosen by God and in fact he cast his lot for us! Paul writes that it is “having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” Jews and gentiles alike are chosen for God’s praise and glory! The Israelites had gotten so spiritually myopic that they had begun to think they were the only ones God cared about but now Paul declares that even gentiles, non-Jews, “also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Hearing means believing and applying what one hears to their lives. And what the Jews could only long for we all now enjoy completely when we believe, namely we are “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption”! Paul has introduced to his readers the active will of One God in three personalities: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! It is God’s plan from the beginning to send Jesus his Son that we may believe in him and be sealed by God the Holy Spirit! Believers are marked in God by his guaranteeing presence of the Holy Spirit! And this seal, this deposit of God of himself in us stays with us “until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” Jesus, God’s only Son brought this all about! This is what our new hope is all about!

EXAMPLE: There is a child’s book called “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb!” And like the beat of a drum it goes over and over the rhyme so that toddlers can learn. Paul’s message for us this morning is kind of like the drum beat rhyme found in this book in that he continually beats the drum of God’s predestination in his perfect plan of redemption. In it he shares with us the what of our new hope is – Jesus!

Conclusion:

Paul tells us why we have a new hope! Paul teaches us the how of our new hope! Paul shares with us the what of our new hope!
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This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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