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2 Timothy 1:13-14

This letter was written while Paul was in a dungeon awaiting his execution for the cause of Christ. He had finished all the missionary journeys he would ever take. These were his last words to Timothy, his son in the faith, who was no longer a rookie pastor. Timothy would be shouldering the leadership that Paul once carried.

What made it so difficult is that Paul had suffered from many enemies of the gospel throughout his life as a believer. At this point in history the entire Roman Empire had turned its anger and opposition to the gospel, and that’s why Paul was in the dungeon. The kind of world that Timothy was going to face was a world where the empire that dominated the earth had become an enemy of the gospel, in addition to the other enemies. One by one the apostles were having their lights extinguished from the earth. Soon all would be gone except for the Apostle John, who lived to be in his 90’s if church history is correct.

Earlier in 2 Timothy we saw Paul calling for gospel courage from Timothy. I sometimes resent how Bible expositors treat Timothy as a timid weakling. I feel they are not giving adequate weight to the kind of responsibilities Paul was giving to him.

In 1 Timothy he was asked to go to the city of Ephesus and get the preachers in line. Have you ever tried to “herd” preachers and get them under control? Preachers are not always the most approachable people. They are used to being in charge, and they can be difficult to bring under control. In this case you have what would set any Christian on his knees praying and, if not praying, certainly fearful. Gospel courage is certainly what Timothy needed rather than shame or embarrassment over the Lord’s testimony and Paul’s imprisonment. There are plenty of people who would sign up to support the gospel until it became unpopular or until it would cost them something.

Then we saw that the power for gospel courage is nothing less than the power of God Himself. It is resurrection power, a power that is greater than death. That’s the kind of power we need to carry out the mission of the Good News.

·     The reason for gospel courage is that Paul had been called to be a herald, an ambassador, by Christ Himself. He is confident that Christ will not let the gospel message die as it passes from one generation to the next.

Paul calls for Timothy to have the same kind of courage because, like Paul, Timothy has been appointed to carry the gospel message. Those whom Paul had taught had to continue proclaiming the gospel. That is Christ’s design. We live 2,000 years later, and the gospel still continues. Why? It is because there were believers who actually took seriously the charge to make disciples of all ethnicities and to share the gospel with every living creature. As the good news spreads, every new believer in the gospel of Christ becomes another herald of the tidings of great joy for all people.

Paul was an extraordinary missionary, and Timothy was highly privileged to be trained by him. These men completed their course long ago, and the baton of the gospel rests in your hands and mine today. We have their words and their testimony, but now they wait for us to fulfill our course.

It is not so much about addition as it is multiplication. If one Christian led 12 people to Christ in his lifetime, and those 12 did the same, and so on—8 cycles of that would more than cover the population of the USA; 9 cycles would put you above 5 billion; 10 cycles more than 61 billion. The current world population is only 7 billion.

Granted, only some of the people to whom we give the gospel do in fact receive it for themselves, and fewer yet pass it on. But what would happen if just 100 people from Hampton Park got serious about the mission of passing on the gospel of Jesus Christ? That is what Paul is dealing with in verses 13 and 14.  Paul literally says get a grip and be on guard.

I. Get a Grip (2 Timothy 1:13)

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

The word translated follow literally means to have, as in hold fast. It is not just to possess like the things you possess and finally put in your attic for your heirs to sort through. It means something like the wedding vow, “to have and to hold from this day forward.” It means to treasure, to protect, to cling to and to make your own. Follow the pattern of sound words. The word pattern refers to a sketch or an outline to trace over. It might be an artist’s rendering, and you are put tracing paper over it and draw it. It could be a small model that a sculptor uses to make a larger model of the same figure. It might be the outline of a building that you are drawing from the copy. So this is a pattern for Timothy to follow.

Paul would say to followers that he taught, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” These are patterns of sound words. When you say something is sound, what does it mean? When you consult a doctor about a problem with your leg, he may say, “That leg is not sound.” He is not talking about the leg not hearing, but he is talking about the leg being healthy. Sound words are healthful words. They bring health. Doctrine that deviates produces spiritual disease; it does not have the beneficial, transforming effect of teaching that is true to God’s revelation. Lies destroy people. The truth gives them health.

When we talk about “Life by the Book,” it is just a clichéd way of saying something that the Bible repeatedly brings to us, that apart from the Word of God, the pattern He has set for us, there is no healthy Christian living. You can come up with a new way to “do church” or come up with new twists of what Christianity would look like, but every way we deviate from the healthful words delivered to us in the Word of God hurts others rather than helps them.

One of my favorite quotes is from Spurgeon  as he talks about the Scripture. He lived in a day when it was very fashionable to deviate from the Word and look down on the simpletons who believed the Bible. (And that’s continued until this day.) Spurgeon said, “You don’t defend a lion; you turn him loose.” We really shouldn’t care if someone we are sharing the gospel with believes it yet or not. They don’t have to believe that it will change them for it to change them. They just need to be exposed to it.

During the time of the Evangelical Awakening (on the other side of the pond in England), the Wesley brothers were kicked out of the churches because the churches were too respectable. When they called people sinners and said they needed to repent, the religious people were the first ones to get upset. God used this to take the Wesley brothers out into the fields to share the gospel with the people who didn’t feel comfortable in the churches. Perhaps they didn’t have the right clothes to wear or they had to work on Sundays. The story tells about people coming out of the mines covered with dirt and grime hearing the gospel, repenting, and having rivers of tears running down their faces.

One of my favorite incidences to read was where people came to mock the preachers who were preaching in a small building. They literally tore the building down around them. It wasn’t uncommon for people to throw stones at the one who was preaching. In this incident the ones who tore the building down came back the very next day and were converted.

The gospel is powerful. It is the power of God unto salvation. Its very nature is to confront those who reject it and rebel against it and to change their hearts. That’s how powerful the Word is. It is powerful enough that when God speaks words the universe comes into being out of nothing. Those words are life-giving.

Paul urges Timothy to follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me. Paul has faithfully discharged his duty as an ambassador of Christ to teach the gospel faithfully in every kind of situation. He had lived out the gospel in front of Timothy. Timothy had received these health-giving words from Paul. It was personal with Paul. It was personal with Timothy. With Paul’s soon execution, Timothy now must hold these truths tightly to himself as he teaches others despite persecution for doing so. We know from Hebrews that he went to prison for it.

Because Paul had faithfully executed his duties, he provided an example for Timothy to imitate. It is so important for each of us to realize that how we relate the gospel to others in our words and ways either serves to give them something to imitate or something to overcome if they want to serve Jesus.

What kind of pattern are you providing for others around you?

· Or is your life blocking their view of Jesus?

· Have you ever shared the gospel with another person? If so, when was the last time?

· Who are you close enough to so that they can see the gospel being lived out in your life and know its transforming power?

· What are you doing to be on task with the mission?

Sharing the gospel doesn’t just happen. There are times the opportunities are suddenly there, but the people who get to display and share the gospel the most are the people who are actually living for that purpose. If all I live for is to graduate from high school or college, or to get my Ph.D., or land my first really good job, or to start a family, or to build a bigger house, or to multiply the number of cars I own, or to be as healthy as possible and at the end of life kick the bucket. I’ve lived for nothing in terms of what lasts forever. What are you doing—not someday but today and tomorrow—to be on task so that someone else I care about can follow the pattern of healthful words that I have laid out for them. This is worth living for! This is what will matter a billion years from now. People you have shared the gospel with in this way and who come to Jesus will be your neighbors in the kingdom of heaven. They will enjoy with you the joy of the new heaven and the new earth. They will thrill with you to know what it is like to be immortal and to be sinless and to gaze on the King of Glory and to serve in His courts forevermore. This kind of living will matter forever! And no headsman’s axe can take it from you.

For teachers of the gospel to deviate from the words given by God was already a common practice in Timothy’s day. We learned that from 1 Timothy. The results are disastrous. Whatever your deviations from the gospel are – they don’t work. You can extract doctrines that you don’t like, you can add your rules, but whenever you twist truth or deviate from the truth, it has terrible results. It does not produce the health that the real gospel produces.

How do we do this? We are to do this “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”  We are to hold fast to the pattern in the spirit of faith and love. Faith grounds us in the truths God has revealed to us in His Word. It is reliance on God’s revelation as the way we view life and live life. There are times we are tempted to doubt. We struggle. We go through times when we are in pain or facing great difficulties, and we are tempted to “ditch it.” In these times we must trust in God’s truths.

We do this in love as well. Love expresses active concern for the well-being of others. Selfless love is the hallmark of truly born again people. Because God’s Words—His gospel—are healthful in their effect, love adheres to them knowing they benefit others. This faith and love is possible only in Christ (the Messiah)—the mighty Savior-King who creates us new in Him and gives us the Holy Spirit to generate godly character in us.

·         In what ways are you showing you are relying on God’s revealed truth—the healthy words of the gospel?

·         In what ways are you displaying love for God and for others in how you hold on to the truth and share it?

 

II. Be On Guard. (2 Timothy 1:14)

14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

“Guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Paul has delivered a treasure over to Timothy for safekeeping, and he must guard it with determined urgency. Why this command? Because it is so easy to let it slip. I can fail to guard it from lack of focus, deviation from the pattern, additions, deletions, distortions—all of which were common in the first century and still are in the 21st.

Guarding the good deposit does not mean to keep it to myself. It means that I keep it pristine; I keep it faithful; and I keep it true. It’s not just a matter of knowing what is true. It’s sharing accurately what is true. It’s living out what is true. It’s demonstrating by our lives the sound words of life Jesus has given us through His apostles.

Why is that so important? Satan loves confusion, and his best tools for producing it are professing Christians whose lives or lips twist the good news into something it’s not, producing confusion in people’s minds.

This is really sobering because not one of us lives through a day without faltering in some way. We battle the flesh, the world, and the devil. Yet God has chosen that the gospel should flow through us to others. When we consider how messed up we can be. It could get tainted through the things that are wrong with us. That’s why we are to guard it. That’s why Luther wrote, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.”

This kind of guarding of the truth is possible only through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit: “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.”

Christ prophesied that the Spirit would come.

John 7:37-39:

On the last day of the feast, the great, day, Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believers in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

 Romans 8:6-9:

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

The Scripture sets up this paradigm. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. That is what being born again is about. God gives you His life. He comes to dwell within you in the person of the Holy Spirit.

So what does the power of the indwelling Spirit look like in the life of a person? These passages show you how practical this gets:

Galatians 5:22-26 (cf. 6:1-2)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 Ephesians 4:30-32

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 5:18-21ff

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

These things are marks of the Holy Spirit. What is striking about all these passages is the impact the Spirit of God’s work in us has on all our relationships, with God and with others. It is actually the Spirit of God that enables us to love God with all our mind, soul and strength. Love God! And love your neighbor as yourself. If you had fallen would you need someone to help you up? If you were weak, would you not need someone to strengthen you? If you had sinned would you not want someone to forgive you? Love others.

· In what ways are you guarding what Christ has given you by the Spirit’s power?

· In what ways could you in fact be grieving the Spirit and thus cutting off His influence in your life?

· What marks of the Spirit’s power would those who know you best identify in your life?

Fulfilling our sacred trust is more than just getting our creed right and opposing those who get it wrong. It is making the gospel truths part of who we are and guarding against straying from them so that our lives fulfill the big why—to proclaim and display the good news that God is calling out a people for His name through Jesus Christ alone.

Sacred Trust: Get a grip and be on guard!

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

From 2 Timothy 1:13-14:

What does this passage teach us about Christ?

What does this passage teach us about the Holy Spirit?

What does this passage teach us about our responsibility as Christians?

What does this passage teach us about salvation? How does it fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

From 2 Timothy 1:13-14:

What kind of Biblical pattern are you providing for others around you? Could others watch you and get a faithful model of truth? Or, are you actually blocking the truth with your life? What are some ways we may be a hindrance to others seeing the truth?

Have you ever actually shared the gospel with another person? Who are you close enough to right now to do so? What are you intentionally doing to see to it that your life is on mission?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of this passage?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by this text?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by this text?

Prayer

For what from this text can we rejoice?

For what from this text can we repent?

For what from this text can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

August 17, 2014

 
The Power of Promise PDF

2 Samuel 3

Anyone who sets himself against God is going to lose. That is not only intensely logical, but we see it played out in life after life. That’s exactly what we see in 2 Samuel 3:1-39.

The events of II Samuel 3 have a lot to digest: war, polygamy, political maneuvering, revenge and jealousy, murder, and grief. Confusing! The bad guys join the good guys, and the good guys act like bad guys.

Welcome to life in the ancient Middle East! No, welcome to life in the world we live in, ancient or modern. It is so easy to be sucked into the turbulence of the times that you miss the divinely ordained progress of history. So let’s get the big picture first, so we know how to place the parts of it.

Except for the first five verses, this entire chapter focuses on Abner. Why Abner?

Abner is the one leader strong enough to lead the opposition to David’s promised kingship. This chapter chronicles how God neutralizes him. Abner’s own words condemn his resistance and underscore the power of God’s promise and the worthiness of David as King.

The reason the house of David is growing stronger and stronger and Saul’s house is growing weaker and weaker is the power of God’s promise to make David king. It is not that David is without fault. Look at his multiplying wives to himself and Joab’s vengeful murder of Abner.

Neither the strength of God’s enemies nor the failures of God’s servants can negate the gracious purpose of the Lord to establish His anointed king on the throne (v. 9) and to save His people Israel not just from the Philistines but from all their enemies (v. 18). Think about the significance of that statement as applied not just to David but to God’s whole redemptive plan. This is the story of human history. Neither God’s enemies in all their power nor God’s people in all their failures can thwart the fulfillment of the promises of God to save His people. God’s promises come with self-fulfilling power. They are not defeated by human opposition or dependent on human performance.

The Power of Promise is evident in II Samuel 3 in the following ways:

1.   It is evident in the increase of David’s kingdom and household with both military victories and family growth. David gets stronger and stronger, and Saul’s house gets weaker and weaker.

2.   It is evident in the reversal of Abner’s loyalty. The chief opponent to the kingdom turns and throws his weight behind David.

3.   It is evident in the covenant-alliance established between David and his former enemies.

4.   It is further established by the outrage, as a former enemy is murdered. David’s handling of that murder causes all the people to be pleased with his character.

God uses all these elements to establish David’s throne according to His promise. As we look at this chapter, which is not enjoyable to read, we see that God’s promises will prevail.

I. Increase (2 Samuel 3:1-5)

There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker.

And sons were born to David at Hebron . . .

Consider the increase we see in David’s kingdom. It was a long time in coming. The war was long, but David grew stronger and stronger as time passed. Sometimes the longer a trial goes, the weaker we feel. Yet in God’s providence, the stronger David became. The sons of Saul died in battle, and in the next chapter, Ishbosheth was assassinated in his own home.Meanwhile sons were being born to David. The Scripture writer does not evaluate David’s polygamy at this point. He notes only that his household was growing, in contrast to Saul’s.

Multiplying wives, customary in the ancient world to seal national alliances and to display power, was nonetheless contrary to God’s clear commands for Israel’s kings given to Moses in Deuteronomy 17. It makes us wonder if we are looking at the roots of David’s infamous sin with Bathsheba years later. What heartache he will experience! When we see the names Amnon and Absalom, we shudder. Amnon one day would abuse his own sister. Absalom would kill Amnon and later lead an insurrection against his own father. God’s promise, nevertheless, brings about the increase of David’s house and kingdom. That kingdom was not just David’s kingdom, for it ultimately is the Lord’s Kingdom.

The ultimate Anointed One will govern a kingdom whose increase will never end. Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 9:6-7), “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts (the Lord of armies) will do this.”

David’s kingdom increases because it is part of God’s redemption plan leading to Jesus Christ. It is the zeal of the Lord to do this. It is not the power and perfection of His servants.

We see the Power of Promise in the increase of David’s kingdom. We also see it in the reversal of Abner’s loyalty.

II. Reversal (2 Samuel 3:6-11)

While there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, Abner was making himself strong in the house of Saul. Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. And Ish-bosheth said to Abner, “Why have you gone in to my father's concubine?” Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog's head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman.

In the ancient world to take possession of a deceased king’s harem was one way to lay claim to the throne. We do not know that Abner used this tactic, but we know that Isbosheth was afraid that was what Abner was doing and he accused him of it. Abner angrily denied it.

Abner is a much stronger leader than Ishbosheth, who seems a mere puppet king whose standing rests purely on family connection. He may have been convinced of Abner’s guilt, but his accusation alienated Abner and removed the one element of strength he had going for him.

We can’t just look at the people involved or at the situation. We have to look at the God who rules history. God was at work. The insult and the anger it provoked turned the loyalty of the commander of Saul’s armies from Ishbosheth to David. It also prompted Abner’s public acknowledgment that God had chosen David to be king:

God do so to Abner and more also, if I do not accomplish for David what the Lord has sworn to him, 10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan to Beersheba.” 11 And Ish-bosheth could not answer Abner another word, because he feared him.

Finally, Abner is talking sense. As leader of the rebellion, his shift of allegiance spells the certain end of the northern opposition to David’s kingship. God is Master of turning the most determined enemy into His greatest ally. Every time a sinner is converted, there is a transfer from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light. There is a change of heart where an enemy of God now belongs to Him completely. One who runs from God, distrusts Him and hates Him now embraces God, seeks Him and loves Him. It is a change in spiritual DNA. It is being born again. It is a new creation. This happens every time someone goes from the kingdom of rebellion over to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.

Abner’s turnaround may be purely pragmatic and calculating. It only makes sense that to be commander for Ishbosheth’s army has no future. To lead armies for David would be a major career advancement. That may be the case, but

God uses even the ambition and pride of worldly men to accomplish His purposes in the earth. When Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken of all the empire, he was not thinking to advance the salvation purposes of God, but he did. He was a pawn in the hands of the Lord of History. His action ensured that the Messiah would be in the very town prophesied to be the birthplace of the ruler whose goings forth have been of old, even from everlasting.

Rome did not build its extensive road system to spread the gospel of Christ, but the roads were there in the fullness of time.

When Saul turned his fury against Christians in Jerusalem, he did not intend to scatter Christians like seed everywhere spreading the good news fulfilling the great commission, but his action did just that (Acts 8).

When terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center towers, they did not intend to expose the contrast between Islam and Christianity, but they did. Tens of thousands of former Muslims have since come to Jesus.

When Satan filled Judas to betray Christ, he did not intend to facilitate the salvation of the human race through the cross, but he did.

No wonder God laughs in the heavens when the kings and rulers of this world declare they will cast off the rule of the Lord and His Anointed One. It cannot be done.

What are the Abners in your life – the ones who are blocking the way, the enemies of the Lord? What situations seem to you hopelessly complicated and barricaded? What reversals of heart does God want you to pray for? The God you are praying to is Master of all. He gets glory when He turns hearts that have steeled themselves in resistance to Him. He gets glory when He converts a sinner from his way, when he changes the leper’s spots and melts the heart of stone. Reversal and repentance show the power of God’s promise. God is not threatened by any show of force resistant to His purposes. His kingdom will prevail. Everyone who is part of that kingdom except Jesus Christ Himself was once part of the rebel kingdom. If you and I were tracked according to our natural desire, we would hate God still. We would be fighting Him still, but He has conquered our hearts and has changed us and made us Christ’s.

III. Covenant (2 Samuel 3:12-21)

12 And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, “To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and behold, my hand shall be with you to bring over all Israel to you.” 13 And he said, “Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you; that is, you shall not see my face unless you first bring Michal, Saul's daughter, when you come to see my face.”

(David never divorced Michal. She was forcibly stolen from him. Legally he had every right to reclaim her on personal grounds as well as political, however painful for the husband who had no right to have received her as his wife in the first place.)

17 And Abner conferred with the elders of Israel, saying, “For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. 18 Now then bring it about, for the Lord has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.’” 19 Abner also spoke to Benjamin. And then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin thought good to do.20 When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. 21 And Abner said to David, “I will arise and go and will gather all Israel to my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.” So David sent Abner away, and he went in peace.

Abner called for the treaty, this covenant of mutual promise, because the Lord had not only promised David was to be king, but that God would use him to save Israel from all their enemies. One can only shake his head that Abner ever chose to oppose David at all, given his testimony at this time. Has Abner seen the light? His words sound as if he has. They declare the power of God’s promise, even though his life is cut off too soon for us to know for sure whether he speaks from conviction or pragmatism.

His words communicate how we ought to respond to the Anointed King God has sent to save us. David is the ancestor of the greater Anointed One—the Messiah, the Christ—Whom God appointed as Savior of the race.

When God tells Mary and Joseph what to call Jesus he says this: “Call his name Jesus—(Yahweh saves)—for he shall save his people from their sins!” He would save them from all their enemies, not just from political enemies, not just ancient foes, but from the enemy within – the sin that plaques us, the sin that marches us to the grave, the sin that condemns us before God. Jesus – Yahweh Himself – saves us from our sins. Any King that can do that deserves our homage, deserves our love and loyalty, and deserves our trust. The greatest King of all extends the gospel call.

What is the gospel call? Enter into covenant with God’s Anointed Savior-King, Jesus Christ. He has ratified His promise in His own blood to save to the uttermost those who transfer their trust to Him.

If it is crazy that Abner opposed David at all given what he knows about God’s promises regarding David, how much more foolish to hold back from trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, once you understand what God has promised regarding His kingdom and His salvation!

Have you looked at the promises of God? Have you observed how Jesus fulfills them? What other action but trusting Him, relying fully on Him, yielding to Him, swearing allegiance to Him makes any sense at all? Yield to Him today! He is the promised Savior-King. Make Him your Savior-King! Pay homage to Him, join His kingdom of faith and joy today before it is too late.

IV. Outrage (2 Samuel 3:22-39)

Joab’s murder of Abner is a dark blot on the early pages of David’s kingdom.

Joab is David’s nephew, the son of David’s sister, Zeruiah. He kills Abner to avenge his younger brother Asahel’s death in battle by Abner’s hand. This revenge is not in battle. It is the cold-blooded murder of a potential rival.  Abner had safe conduct from David. That is why David so publicly repudiates Joab’s action.

David’s lamentation is noble, but we find ourselves wanting more from him—justice. He himself feels that he did not do enough. On his deathbed he calls on Solomon to execute justice.

1 Kings 2:5-6:

“Moreover, you also know that Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether (during Absalom’s rebellion), whom he killed, avenging in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist and on the sandals on his feet. Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace.”

Solomon takes care of business:

        (v. 32)

        Yahweh will bring back his bloody deeds on his own head, because, without

        the knowledge of my father David, he attacked and killed with the sword     two men more righteous and better than himself.

Human history is full of such outrages, and we are often disappointed with even good men who for whatever reason do not settle the score righteously. But know this: God’s promises will prevail. He will execute justice on those who seem to be getting away with murder. There is nowhere to hide from God’s sovereign rule.

A greater than Solomon will one day unleash His fury upon the earth, and those who have refused His rule will taste of the wrath of the Lamb. The one who died to rescue them will judge them for their stubborn self-rule.

God is master of turning outrages into ways of advancing the gospel. The greatest outrage of human history—the cross—God has turned to bring about redemption for our sins—outrages against a holy God—so that we might be forgiven and freed from sin’s power.

John 5:21-24

21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

The day is coming when all the outrages of human history will be set right. There will be a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells. We will stand completely purified from sin and totally freed from death— incorruptible and immortal. This is God’s promise full of God’s power.

Attach yourself by faith to God’s promises centered in His anointed One, the Savior Jesus Christ, David’s promised descendant.

The Power of Promise

·         Guarantees Increase of the Kingdom of the Anointed One

·         Prompts Repentant Reversal

·         Calls us into covenant with God

·         Will set right the outrages forever

 

LifeGroup Questions

The Power of Promise/ Sacred Trust

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about man?

How does this passage fit into the overall gospel story? Specifically, how are all four of these evidences of the power of promise (increase, reversal, covenant, and outrage) being currently fulfilled or will ultimately be fulfilled by Christ?

What does this passage teach us about Christ?

What does this passage teach us about the Holy Spirit?

What does this passage teach us about our responsibility as Christians?

What does this passage teach us about salvation? How does it fit into the overall gospel story?

Reproof

How should the reversal of Abner inform our responses during the situations in our lives that are so complicated and barricaded?

Like Abner, what are some things you do according to God's will primarily because it is pragmatic for you to do so? What might this reveal about your heart?

Like Joab, in what ways this past week did you seek revenge in any way (word, thought, or action)? What are some common ways that you get vengeance on those who have wronged you?

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

August 17, 2014

 
Gospel Courage PDF

2 Timothy 1:8-12

The setting of 2 Timothy is in the final days of Paul’s life. The Roman Empire has declared war on Christianity. This is the first time the entire empire has determined to snuff out this new cult, this new religion, that they believe is so dangerous. The apostle Paul has suffered for Jesus over many years. He has suffered beatings and imprisonment. He has been shipwrecked, and he knows what it is like to be invaded and pursued. In the passage we read today he is in his final prison stay, not on house arrest, but in a dungeon. He knows that very soon he will be executed for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is probably in his mid-60’s and has lived life with the “pedal to the metal,” living strongly for Jesus Christ after his conversion. Now it is time for him to hand things off to those who have served alongside him. Timothy, his son in the faith, is one of those people.

Think about what it would have been like to be Timothy. Timothy was not a youngster anymore. He was likely in his mid-30’s when 1 Timothy was written, and in 2 Timothy he is probably around age 40. What would it have been like to serve Jesus with giants of the faith like Peter and Paul, apostles who were still alive? With the execution of Paul not far away, the leadership is transitioning to a new generation with Timothy taking the leadership. He and his generation were being given this great responsibility. They would be doing it without the apostles in the midst of the intense persecution that Christianity had seen so far. It was not just from the Jewish religious establishment or just from pockets of pagan cities, but from the whole human heart.

This letter of 2 Timothy was written in a time of crisis when it is very clear that there is a battle between darkness and light, and it would be very easy to turn tail and run, to have a silent faith and not stick your neck out and not take the risk that spreading the gospel requires.

The last time we studied in Timothy, Paul was admonishing Timothy to “keep his head in the game, to focus his thinking. He admonished him to:

  • Remember the God you serve (2 Timothy 1:3a).
  • Remember your Christian brothers and sisters in prayer (2 Timothy 1:3b-4).
  • Remember the sincere faith your mentors displayed (2 Timothy 1:5).
  • Remember the gifts God gave you (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Paul continues this charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:8-12:

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

 

I. The Call for Gospel Courage (2 Timothy 1:8a)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel

We live right now in a different kind of environment, but there are places in the world today that are very similar to the place where Paul served and where Timothy would serve. We know there are people who hate Jesus and hate His followers, but it is relatively peaceful for us. We don’t suffer a great deal of overt or outward persecution. Yet it is interesting that as we watched Frontline Mission International’s Day of Battle we realized how fearful we are to speak up. We saw how fearful we are to sacrifice anything for the sake of spreading the gospel and to disrupt our neat, tidy lives and to risk anything for Jesus in an environment that is relatively safe. The problem is probably not the environment. Whether in a very dangerous place or in a peaceful place, the problem is the nature of the human heart. We need boldness and courage given to us by the Spirit of God to do our gospel mission. Our mission is the same as Paul’s. There are lots of people in our own town who have never heard the gospel explained. No one has taken the time or invested their lives in them.

Yesterday afternoon I talked with a friend who is pastor of a local sister church, and he said that he wondered just how much of Greenville we (our churches) are touching with the gospel. He has spent time with unreached people in Ethiopia and other places. He started sharing how many Hindus and how many Muslims live in our city and how many people of other pagan religions who are not trusting in Jesus live in our midst, and they have not been touched with the gospel. It is going to take more courage than we have exercised so far if we are going to fulfill our mission. I want us not to think of this as some kind of distant, glamorous thing that Paul did. I want us to think of this as a war we are facing right now. It is not a war to try to protect ourselves from things that are happening in our country. It is a war to advance the cause of Jesus Christ in the lives of other people. We need gospel courage!

Ashamed is a word used for justifiable shame or guilt for sin. Here it is unjustifiable embarrassment or shame regarding the gospel. In other words, it means being embarrassed about something you shouldn’t be embarrassed about.

Don’t be ashamed about the eyewitness testimony about our Lord and what He came to do. Salvation through a crucified Savior was a scandal to the Jews. They were looking for the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Everlasting King. They were thinking in terms of the crown. They were not thinking about the crucified One. They actually had a two Messiah theory because it was too hard for them to put the two together and to have their Promised One come and not overthrow Rome and set up a worldwide kingdom immediately. For him to suffer and to die was a scandal to them. Those who led the Jewish community rejected Jesus Christ and His call of humility and of His piercing beyond the veneer of their ceremonial religion and works of righteousness down to who they really were and calling them to expose and admit that and cast themselves on God’s mercy rather than beating on their chests and announcing how superior they were to everyone else. It went counter to the whole way they did religion. It still does. Organized religion is pretty much considered respectable business. To get real about how unrespectable we are and how much we deserve the wrath of God and how much we need God to rescue us is not very popular among anyone who wants to think highly of themselves.

It was also foolishness to the Greeks and to the Romans as well. Who wants to worship a Savior who is murdered, executed as a criminal? It was like a joke to them. How could they worship such a Savior? That would destroy human pride of achievement or self-worth because it tells the truth about their hopeless predicament that calls for Someone to rescue them. True Christianity calls for humility. True Christianity is when you stop trying to advance yourself and to prove that you are a good person. With true Christianity you finally give up the fight to come off looking good and recognize that you need Jesus to save you. That is not the way that advanced civilizations like to look at themselves.

It was easy to feel embarrassment as you shared the gospel because you lived in a world that rejected such humiliation for the gospel destroys the human pride of achievement and self-worth. It tells the truth about the hopeless predicament we are in that calls for Someone infinitely powerful to rescue us. So Paul said, “Don’t be ashamed of that.”  “Of me His prisoner” — Paul viewed his imprisonment as according to the sovereign will of God and for the sake of Christ. During a time of empire-wide persecution there would be a temptation to shrink back from being identified with Paul (like Peter did with Jesus when Jesus was on trial). Human instinct is to draw back from those who suffer, especially those who suffer for alleged crimes.

The opposite of shame and embarrassment is to willingly suffer for the gospel—to jointly suffer evil for it. It is translated “suffer hardship” in 2 Timothy 2:3.

In what ways are you showing you are not embarrassed about the gospel even when you are among those who are indifferent to it, mocking it, hostile to it?

In what ways are you sharing in the suffering for the sake of the gospel? What are you giving up or putting at risk for the sake of proclaiming and displaying the good news?

What to your mind would be too great a price to pay to be faithful to advancing the gospel in the lives of others?

To suffer evil—have bad things happening to you—without shame is not the normal human response. We need supernatural power to do that. Suffering for the sake of the gospel with joy marks our lives as empowered by God.

Philippians 1:27-30

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

 

II. The Power for Gospel Courage (2 Timothy 1:8b-10)

by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel….

How strong is this power (dunamis)? It is enough to save us, heal us, deliver us, rescue us from our sin plague and its deadly poisonous effects. This is power sufficient to call us to a holy calling to make us His. This power has drawing, transforming power of God’s invitation to the human heart that turns it from darkness to light and gives to us a new life purpose. This power is a power that confronted the persecutor Paul, a murderer and blasphemer who hated Jesus, and on the spot turned him into a mighty missionary for God. God has been saving people like that for centuries.

It is power to override our native sin nature and wicked ways. It is power to supersede our pride of achievement and render us keenly aware of our inability to rescue ourselves or win favor with God. It is knowing that it is not by our works, but by his favor and goodness that is the opposite of what we truly deserve (grace) extended because of God’s innate goodness and determination to save us from ourselves.

He decided to do this for us before the ages began but revealed it within the course of history when Jesus Christ was revealed—after long centuries of promises that predicted His coming.

He is the Savior. He is the Messiah. He is the God-man who saves His people from their sins. (“Jesus” means Yahweh saves, given that name because “He shall save His people from their sins.”)

God has manifested His power to save by abolishing—rendering inoperative—death itself, and by bringing life and immortality (incorruptibility) to light. Death is powerful, but God’s power is greater. It is resurrection power. It is the power to take people whose bodies have molded into dust over the centuries and with just a word that molding body hears the voice of God and springs to life at the resurrection. It is that kind of power that made us alive spiritually when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. It is more than a dream of mankind to live forever. It is a revelation from God through the news that understandably brings great joy—the gospel.

That is the kind of power sufficient to equip us to suffer gladly and without embarrassment for the gospel’s sake. Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jews first and also to the Greek.”

Manifest power drives any shame away. This is power sufficient to bring the dead back to life, to restore the entire universe from the curse of sin and death, to procure for sinners turned to saints an eternal inheritance in the heavenly kingdom that lasts forever. That kind of power means that we never need to be ashamed.

It is like hearing a ball team at the beginning of a season bragging about how they are going to wipe out every other team. It is not offensive if you are on that team, but it is offensive to everyone else. You let them brag but you go out on to the field knowing that your team is way better and is going to beat their socks off. That’s what it is like. Let the world laugh and brag and mock. Let them pretend there is nothing to it, but if you know God’s power, their mocking and rage means nothing because you know the power of God.

It is like the change of seasons when the bleakest winter turns into springtime on its way to the warm luxurious green of summer. How can you access this kind of power? It is God’s gift to you through faith alone. Casting complete reliance on the all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful God who cannot lie to fulfill His amazing promises in your own life.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, sothat the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

If you are convinced that God loves you with an everlasting love and will never let you go even in times of deep trial and fearful risk for Jesus, what would you feel free to do for the sake of the gospel?

 

III. The Reason for Gospel Courage (2 Timothy 1:11-12)

11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

He was appointed for this. It was not Paul’s personal authority but that of the Person who appointed him. Nobody cares what you believe about personal things. You have never been to the further distances of eternity. You have never been beyond the grave. Who cares what you think about that? You have no authority of your own. It is the testimony of God and His appointment. It is His good news to us. Paul is a preacher – a herald. A herald doesn’t write the script. He just delivers it. Paul is an apostle, a sent one (similar to an ambassador) and a teacher (instructor). This divine appointment is why Paul suffers—he by no means would throw away the appointment in order to be free from the suffering.

He knows the One he is relying on is trustworthy. He has a relational knowledge of God, not just academic facts. He knows the God of the gospel and has a relationship with Him. He has been persuaded by the evidence (by the Spirit of God Himself). There is no stronger conviction that what one has been personally convinced of by the action of God, that God has the power to guard safely all the way to the Day of eternity his deposit—what has been entrusted to him or what he has entrusted to God for safekeeping. The first choice seems better in context. The gospel entrusted to Paul, though he will be soon beheaded, will continue to advance and not falter through generations far beyond Paul’s brief life, about to be sacrificed for Jesus.

This is a great burden for anyone who is giving up themselves to advance the good news in the lives of others. Will it continue strong long after we have gone home to heaven?

During times of great persecution believers worry not only for those in prison and in danger, but for the survival of the gospel itself.

To fulfill our commission to advance the gospel in the earth is the reason we gladly join in the suffering and do so without shame. Lesser motivations are insufficient. Whenever I’m tempted to back off from gospel courage for the sake of protecting myself, I remember to Whom I must give an answer. It is better to lose all reputation, all possessions, life itself—than to shirk the gospel mission to which God has appointed us.

What is so disturbing is that gospel courage seems to be the exception rather than the rule among many churches. Other issues seem to matter far more. Wherever that is the case, we need a radical transformation to a culture in which deep commitment to advancing the gospel in the lives of others is the normal way to live.

How do you see yourself in terms of God’s appointment to furthering the gospel in the lives of others? What features of your everyday life mark you as one willing to pay the price to fulfill the gospel mission?

 

Dr. Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

August 10, 2014

 
High Cost PDF

2 Samuel 2:12-32

The last time we were together we talked about Two Kingdoms:

I. The Kingdom of God’s Anointed (2 Samuel 2:1-7)

  • Seeks to Act according to God’s Revealed Will
  • Invites Others to Enjoy God’s Blessing

II. The Kingdom of Man’s Alternative (2 Samuel 2:8-11)

  • Refuses the King of God’s Choosing
  • Promotes the King of Man’s Choosing

David was the anointed one of God. God had chosen him to be the next king of Israel. With Saul and Jonathan now dead, Abner, the commander of Saul’s army, chose Ish-bosheth (man of shame) to be an alternative king in the northern tribes and he does not submit to the kingship of King David, God’s anointed one. We saw how this fits the pattern we see in all of human history. In our own hearts there are two kingdoms and we have to choose which king we are going to serve: the king of self, self-determination, the king of this world and rebellion against God, or whether we will bow the knee to King Jesus. We saw how that invades every part of our lives right down into our families.

We would like for the conflict between Abner and David, between the two kingdoms, to be quick and sweet but it continues for a while. We will jump into the conflict, in 2 Samuel 2:12-32:

12 Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon (about 48 miles from M and 20 miles from Hebron). 13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah and the servants of David went out and met them at the pool of Gibeon. And they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool. 14 And Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.” 15 Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 16 And each caught his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent's side, so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim (the field of sword edges), which is at Gibeon. 17 And the battle was very fierce that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David. 18 And the three sons of Zeruiah were there, Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Now Asahel was as swift of foot as a wild gazelle. 19 And Asahel pursued Abner, and as he went, he turned neither to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner. 20 Then Abner looked behind him and said, “Is it you, Asahel?” And he answered, “It is I.” 21 Abner said to him, “Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and seize one of the young men and take his spoil.” But Asahel would not turn aside from following him. 22 And Abner said again to Asahel, “Turn aside from following me. Why should I strike you to the ground? How then could I lift up my face to your brother Joab?” 23 But he refused to turn aside. Therefore Abner struck him in the stomach with the butt of his spear, so that the spear came out at his back. And he fell there and died where he was. And all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still. 24 But Joab and Abishai pursued Abner. And as the sun was going down they came to the hill of Ammah, which lies before Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25 And the people of Benjamin gathered themselves together behind Abner and became one group and took their stand on the top of a hill. 26 Then Abner called to Joab, “Shall the sword devour forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you tell your people to turn from the pursuit of their brothers?” 27 And Joab said, “As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely the men would not have given up the pursuit of their brothers until the morning.” 28 So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the men stopped and pursued Israel no more, nor did they fight anymore. 29 And Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah (Jordan River valley between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea—which is sometimes called the Sea of Arabah). They crossed the Jordan, and marching the whole morning, they came to Mahanaim. 30 Joab returned from the pursuit of Abner. And when he had gathered all the people together, there were missing from David's servants nineteen men besides Asahel. 31 But the servants of David had struck down of Benjamin 360 of Abner's men. 32 And they took up Asahel and buried him in the tomb of his father, which was at Bethlehem. And Joab and his men marched all night, and the day broke upon them at Hebron.

 

You read a passage like that and come away thinking: “What a waste.” Look at the High Cost of such a battle on both sides. We will look at just two truths this morning:

  • Following God’s will comes at a cost, but it is worth it.
  • Resisting God’s will comes at a greater cost, and it is not worth it.

 

I. Following God’s will comes at a cost, but it is worth it.

Twenty of David’s men die in this first engagement of a 7.5-year civil war between the kingdom of God’s anointed and that of those who refused David’s kingship. Up to twenty families were bereaved of a husband/father/brother/son.

Unlike most of us, David is not a stranger to battlefield casualties, but these are men loyal to him and devoted to protecting his God-given right to the throne. The first 12 are called young men, men at the beginning of their prime of life and now they lie dead on the battlefield, their brief service to the newly crowned king stopped short just as it was beginning. The last of the twenty was the fleet-footed Asahel who pursued Abner till the battle-hardened veteran put an end to it with one swift spear thrust.

Serving the Anointed One is costly. It doesn’t matter what century you live in. For David it meant putting his own life at risk. He has been a fugitive for years and has faced many a deadly battle for the Lord’s glory and honor. No one in Israel could ever forget his astonishing victory over the giant Goliath. He didn’t do this for David, but for God. He did it in the face of fear that caused every other warrior in Israel to tremble and to shrink from the task.

Then there was the slaughter of the priests of the Lord by the hand of Doeg the Edomite at the command of Saul. Men, women, and children were slaughtered by those whose hatred for God’s anointed one knew no bounds.

But now, just as fulfillment of God’s promises is in his grasp—a promised kingship not just by virtue of Samuel the prophet’s anointing David, but also in fulfillment of Jacob’s ancient deathbed prophecy in Egypt, that the scepter would belong to Judah until the coming of the everlasting King to whom it belongs. Just when everything good seems to be coming to pass, twenty of his loyal men lie dead. And it’s only the beginning. David’s heart must be breaking. These men died for the sake of his kingship, a kingship he was not seeking, but that God chose him to bear. It is hard to see comrades spill their blood because of your leadership. But that is what David had to face.

What does this state of affairs teach us about serving the Lord and doing His will?

This truth: There is high cost to it. It won’t come cheaply. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not cushy. Sometimes that is difficult for us in the affluent, comfortable lifestyle in which we live. Does that cost disturb you? Shock you? Anger you? How is this loss of life consistent with the goodness of God and the will of God? We have to face these questions and answer them because they are not unique to David’s story. This is the story of the human race.

Good men suffer. Good men die. The reality is that none of us are good in an absolute sense. But there are many who love Jesus the Anointed One, the Christ, the Messiah, who have proved their loyalty in blood. There are many more who have risked their lives, sacrificed their reputations, born hardship and pain for the sake of the kingdom of God’s Anointed One. And it will continue this way till the Everlasting Savior-King returns in glory.

Jesus gave us fair warning on this. When He calls on you to repent of your sin and put your trust in Him, He is not saying that the happiness He promises will negate any suffering, persecution, shedding of blood or imprisonment in this life.  That’s not what He is calling you to.

Matthew 10:16-18, 21-22, 28, 34-39

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

That is the appeal of Jesus Christ. There’s high cost. And yet, with this high cost He makes this promise in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:10-12):

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

One of the marks of those loyal to Jesus is not only that they suffer, but that they are willing to do it because it is worth it. There is high cost in being loyal to God’s Anointed One, but it is well worth it. Later, as the rich young ruler turned away because of the high cost, Peter said to Jesus in Matthew 19:27-30:

27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

The world has things upside down. The world honors the movers and shakers. The world basks in the glory of those with wealth and great power who will sell their souls to get it. But this is not reality, nor the kingdom that will prevail. This is not the everlasting kingdom of the Anointed One. That kingdom rewards those willing to suffer now for eternal gains.

Church history rolled on: Stephen was stoned, James beheaded, Peter crucified, and Paul was beheaded. You can fast forward into the English reformation: William Tyndale strangled and burned, Hugh Latimer burned, Jim Elliot struck down by the Auca Indians. The blood of martyrs stains the ground of every continent on earth.

Yet Tertullian would say after centuries of persecution: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” You can’t get rid of the followers of Jesus, even if you kill them. Their blood still speaks. It declares, “King Jesus is worth dying for!” There is high cost, but it is worth it.

As we look at a chapter like this and look at times of great persecution even to this day, we might ask, “Has the kingdom of God veered off course? Does God not have the power or the will to protect His people?”

Paul would say while writing from prison in Philippians 1:12: What happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. Bodyguards of Caesar knew about Jesus because of the bad things happening to Paul. Relatives and servants of Nero had come to know Christ whose kingdom would last far longer than any Roman Empire.

Serving Jesus is not just experiencing miraculous victories. It is bravely bearing terrible suffering, too. Both prove the power of God in the lives of human beings whose instinct is to rely on self for their victories or to protect self from suffering. Rather, their trust and reliance on Jesus leads them to rely on Him for victories and be willing to go to the death for His glory.

Hebrews 11:32-38

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

They were not in love with this world. All the glitz, glamor, charade, pomp and ceremony - they were not in love with that. They believed in an everlasting kingdom and King. They had made their foundation truth. They looked ahead to a spiritual reality that could not be seen with the naked eye.

Paul writes to Timothy in his final letter in 2 Timothy 3:12-13:

12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

What are you willing to risk for King Jesus?

What are you sacrificing for King Jesus now?

What fears are you overriding in order to do in faith what you know Jesus has commanded you to do?

Are you really convinced the cost of serving Jesus is worth it? Have you done the math right? Have you taken into account His blessings and the everlasting joy that waits for you whenever your earthly battles are done?

What, then, is holding you back from giving your all to Jesus?

There is a high cost to serving the kingdom of God’s Anointed One, but it is more than worth it! Think of Revelation 21:1-5:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Peter will write in his last letter in 2 Peter 3:13: But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

There is high cost to serving Jesus, but it is well worth it. You might be thinking that is too much cost for you. You want your good health, good car, house, retirement account. You don’t want to have to suffer. It may seem foolish, but at least for this life, you want to get in while the getting is good and maybe on your death bed you will have a chance to ask Jesus to save you. Maybe you are thinking that way. But the second truth to this passage is:

 

II. Resisting God’s will comes at a greater cost, and it is not worth it.

David lost 20 men. Abner lost 360. The death toll in this life does not always turn out that way. But in the final analysis to resist God is to lose, and has never been worth it when you add up all that you will pay for doing so.

We don’t know the territory well here. Abner made the journey to engage in this war so he is the aggressor in this conflict. He made war on David. The blood of David’s 20 men and the blood of Abner’s 360 men stains Abner’s hands. His rebellion against God’s anointed precipitated this loss of life. Satan is a murderer, and those who serve him destroy people in keeping with the deceptive hatred that marks Satan’s character.

Abner tries to blame Joab, David’s servant, for the bloodshed that day. None of it would have happened but for Abner’s aggression against the Davidic kingdom. He is a worldly, self-willed man with no interest in God’s will and no submission to God’s anointed king.

Abner knows the truth. He just won’t submit to it. His spirit fills the earth. It not only dominates the darkest places boiling over with sin and vice, it also seeps into Christian homes, Christian schools, and churches. It is in fact the native state of every human heart to resist God.

This rebellious self-rule is the cause of all the brutal conflicts that stain the pages of human history: the murders, the abuse. It is the reason for broken homes and church splits. It is why there is no real peace except where Jesus rules. In a world that rebels against Yahweh and His Anointed One, even the peacemakers find themselves embroiled in the conflict. The accuser of the brethren makes war on the saints. At his disposal is every human heart who has not yet bowed the knee to King Jesus, along with believers whenever they are out of fellowship with their Savior.

James 4:1-2: What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.

Abner’s problem was not with David. Abner’s problem was with Abner. There is high cost to resisting God’s will. The reward of such a stance is short-lived benefit at best, misery at worst, and eternal torment under God’s wrath. It is simply not worth it. Whatever the appeal might be to do it your way, whatever appetite you are trying to satisfy, whatever the reason to turn your back on Jesus, it is not worth it.

Paul writes to believers in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10:

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

Paul is saying that the people persecuting you because they hate Jesus will get their reward. Don’t worry about it. The Lord will take care of that and settle the scores. When you are willing to suffer for Jesus, this is evidence that you actually belong to Him. When you are willing to make others suffer for their devotion to Jesus, it is evidence that God’s wrath on you is deserved.

Revelation 20:11-15

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

What is that Book of Life? That book contains the names of those who have transferred their loyalty from the kingdoms of this world and self to the kingdom of King Jesus. It is the Lamb’s Book of Life.

So what will it be for you? There’s no skating by the decision. You can’t avoid it: Is it God’s kingdom or man’s? Is it the high cost of following Jesus for the sake of the joy of God’s presence with you now, leading to eternal joys, or the high cost of resisting Jesus for the sake of selfish goals, experiencing alienation from the Creator and Savior here and now, and in the end eternal damnation in the lake of fire? Which will it be?

The whole redemption story is about high cost. I have here a branch of huge thorns from the honey locust tree. They remind us that before sin there were no thorns in our universe. There is a high cost to resisting God’s will. The human race has been paying it ever since the Garden of Eden. It also reminds me of another high cost. Consider the high cost God was willing to pay to rescue you—to humble himself to become a man, shed His own lifeblood, bearing the awful load of your sin, of God’s wrath.

He showed us that rescuing His people was worth it to Him. When you and I tremble on the brink, when we are afraid to pay the price, remember that Jesus paid the price to rescue you. You and I deserve to be destroyed along with the rebel kingdom. He took rebels and at high cost bought them back to deliver them. It’s amazing love proved at high cost. Are you willing to serve that kind of King, a King who would humble Himself in that way for you? It’s compelling. It is the most beautiful true story there is. This King loves you and the High Cost of rescuing you proves it.

 

LifeGroup Questions

Teaching

What does this passage teach us about God?

What does this passage teach us about man?

How does this passage fit into the overall gospel story?

How would the world view the truth that "following God's will comes at a cost, but it is worth it?" What would the world's view be of the cost of discipleship?

Reproof

"Serving the Lord is costly." In what ways have we allowed our fear of loss or love of ease keep us back from following God's will?

Share some ways that by following the truths of the Word of God you have experienced loss or difficulty. What must our attitudes be when this takes place?

In all honesty, what are you willing to sacrifice for Christ?

Are there ways, perhaps known by nobody except yourself, in which you are knowingly resisting the revealed will of God?

Correction

How do we apply the gospel to our failures in the areas just discussed in the reproof section?

After considering the gospel, what are some practical ways to begin to apply the truths of this passage?

Training in righteousness

How must our thinking be renewed if we are to be transformed by this text?

What must be put off from and put onto our lives if we are to be transformed by this text?

Prayer

For what from this text can we rejoice?

For what from this text can we repent?

For what from this text can we request, both for ourselves and others?

 

Pastor Drew Conley

Hampton Park Baptist Church

Greenville, SC

August 10, 2014

 
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