A Sanctified Vessel for the Master’s Use

March 15, 2007 at 8:40 pm (Sunday Sermon)

A Sanctified Vessel for the Master’s Use

2 Timothy 2:19-21

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Introduction

  Today, being led by the Spirit, I would like to bring to you a special, as we commemorate the 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of Gethsemane B-P Church.

 Several issues have evoked very deep emotions within me over the past two weeks and also caused me to draw close to God for his help and guidance.

  •  A place of worship and activities for our church
  •  Internet Pornography that affects men in the ministry
  • 9th Anniversary of our Church
  •  God’s unfailing provisions for the church, for the ministers of the Word, full-time staff, theological students, and everyone in the church.

All of those matters require appropriate response. But nothing has been more distressing than the sin of pornography that is invading the computers of Christians, and causing many to be entrapped in it.

 As I reflected upon God’s goodness in the past years and our duty to Him, the Spirit of God has impressed upon my heart that there is nothing more appropriate for Gethsemaneans, on this Anniversary day, than to be resolved to be sanctified vessels for the Master’s use.

The Need to be Sanctified  

Men will infiltrate the church with false doctrines (vv. 14-18, 23) Men will be affected by unwholesome, filthy, destructive communication (vv.16, 22).The pastor is charged to respond to such destructive attack of the devil on the church with appropriate teaching that men who are entrapped might be brought out (vv. 24-26). Only faithful preaching of the Word that appropriately and adequately rebuke, correct, and nurture the church can protect it from the corruption of false doctrines and immorality.

The Encouragement to be Sanctified

“the foundation of God standeth sure”

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (v.19a).

  • Regardless of all the attack of the devil, God’s foundation of the church is “sure.”
  • What is “the foundation of God”?: The truth of God’s Word reveled by the apostles and prophets. Ephesians 2:20 – “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.”
  •  The foundation that God has laid for the church is “sure”. The word, “sure” (stereos – Greek) conveys the idea of something that is solid, stable, steadfast, and strong.
  •  As long as the church remains firmly on this foundation, there is no reason to be troubled from the few-instances of attacks by apostasy and sin.
  • Every local church that is solely Bible-based can be sure that the Lord is still building the church, against all the hellish attack on it. Our Lord Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
  •  All glory to Him for this comforting and encouraging truth that He is building the church. But this truth is exclusively belongs to those who are buidling upon the foundation of God, even the apostolic doctrines.
  •  So if we constantly respond to all the attacks of the devil by preaching, teaching, obeying the truth, we shall continue to enjoy the Lord’s power and goodness for the building of this church.
  • At the same time let us remember Psalms 11:3 – “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” May Gethsemane B-P Church always remain solidly on the Word of God!

Having this seal.

·         Or rather a seal with this inscription.

What does the word “seal” indicate?

  •  A seal represents the authority with which a thing is secured. (Matthew 27:66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.) 
  • A seal is a mark of genuineness. (Revelation 9:4 – And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.) 
  • A “seal” also indicated authenticity and integrity (cf. Rom. 4:11; 1 Cor. 9:2).( Romans 4:11 “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:” 1 Corinthians 9:2 “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.)
  • The allusion here is to the custom of inscribing the name of the builder and the design of the edifice on the corner-stone. It seems to refer to some inscription on the foundation-stone which denoted the character and design of the edifice.
  •  Likewise the church of Christ is like a building constructed by the hands of God, which has a foundation that has been firmly and securely laid, and on that foundation there is an inscription always remaining.

The Lord knoweth them that are his.

  • This is one of the inscriptions on the foundation-stone of the church, which seems to mark the character of the building. 
  • It always stands there. It guarantees God’s authority and power in securing the church. No matter who would attempt to apostatize the church the Lord knows how to take care of His own faithful children.
  • It is, at the same time, a fearful inscription – showing that no one can deceive God; that he is intimately acquainted with all who enter that building; and that in the multitudes which enter there, the friends and the foes of God are intimately known. He can separate his own friends from all others, and his constant care will be extended to all who are truly his own, to keep them from failing.
  • Nahum 1:7, the following words are found: “And he knoweth them that trust in him;” 
  • It is clear that he meant to say that it was one of the fundamental things in religion, that God knew who were his own people, and that he would preserve them from the danger of making shipwreck of their faith.

The Process by which we ought to be Sanctified (v.19b-20)

Individual sanctification:

“And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  

  • This truth must be emphasized in the church.
  • The commentator Barnes says, This is the other seal or inscription which is made on the foundation which God has laid. The foundation has two inscriptions-the first implying that God knows all who are his own people; the other, that all who are his professed people should depart from evil.”
  •  The meaning is, that it is an elementary principle in the true church, that all who become members of it should lead holy lives. 
  • It is significant that every Christian would lead holy lives amidst all the defections by the disobedient and unbelieving. All their attempts to draw away others from the true faith, will be in vain if the people of God are determined to avoid evil.
  • The church’s purity is dependant on individual members. We must not allow ourselves to sink in the miry clay of sin. We must fight to pull ourselves of every besetting sin.  
  • Especially in these days of moral decadence, we must not go down without a fight. Fight against every temptation and sin to the point of death. Hebrews 12:4 says, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
  • Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. 
  • Psalm 37:27 “Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. 
  • Proverbs 3:7 “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 
  • Romans 12:9 “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 
  • 2 Corinthians 7:1 “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
  • Ephesians 4:17-22; Ephesians 5:1-11; Colossians 3:5-8; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 1:13-19; 2 Peter 1:4-10; 2 Peter 3:14; 1 John 3:7-10.

 V.20-21 elaborates the significance of the process of sanctification further. 

 “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”

  • In a large household are all sorts of containers. Some are made of gold and silver and others of wood and clay. More importantly, some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.
  • Since the reference so far is to the faithful and the unfaithful within the church, this metaphor should be understood to show how a sanctified Christian can be an instrument for noble purposes, and an unclean life of a church participant make him an ignoble vessel. 
  • In the church there are some vessels of honour and some of dishonour. Some dishonour the Lord  and His church by their corrupt opinions and wicked lives; and others honour and credit it by their exemplary conversation.

Verse 21, clearly declares that “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel of honour.”

  • Every one in the church is not only called to depart from evil, but also purify himself of sins that have become part of his life.
  • purge himself – ἐκκαθαίρω : clean out, cleanse, get rid of (1Co 5:7; 2Ti 2:21).
  • We shall study next Lord’s day how the Scripture teaches us to purge oneself of sins.
  • Nonetheless, let us take not it is the will of God that every one who claims to be a Christian ought to rid of every sin that is in him.

The Reward of being Sanctified (v.19b-20)

  V. 21b tells us that the sanctified will be “meet for the Master’s use.”

  • In other words, the sanctified will be fit to be employed by the Lord Jesus in promoting His work on earth.
  • A man must purge himself from these before he can be a vessel of honour, or meet for his Master’s use.
  • Every vessel must be fit for its Master’s use. Every one in the church who desire to be in his Master’s service must strive to be fit for His use.
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Our Service in the Church – I

February 19, 2007 at 5:48 pm (Sunday Sermon)

Our Service in the Church – I

     Romans 12:4-8

Introduction

  • A large number of Christians give little consideration to their service in the church.

  • It weakens the Christian, as he fails to appropriate Gods grace that is made available to him to serve God in His church.

  • It also weakens the Church, as its members remain dysfunctional.

  • Paul has already told us in the previous verses that we should not to think and act as we deem best, but according to Gods plan and decrees (vv. 2-3). 

  • We are exhorted

         ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (v.2)

         not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (v.3)

Churchs Body Functionality (vv.4-5)

Body Metaphor (v.4)

  • In verse 4 Paul introduces human body as a simile or an image to teach us the divine plan for the functionality of His church.

         For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office (v.4).

  • The conjunction “for” introduces this verse as the reason why we should not think individualistically, an admonition he mentioned in verse 3.

     The reason for not thinking individualistically is that we are called to be joined to one body as its members.

  • The term “as” tells us that Paul is using the concept of body functionality as a metaphor to teach the function of the church and its members ought to function. 

    1 Corinthians 10:17 – “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

    1 Corinthians 12:12 – “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

    1 Corinthians 12:27 – “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

    Ephesians 1:22-23 – “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

    Ephesians 2:16 – “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”

    Ephesians 3:6  – “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.”

    (cf. Ephesians 4:4,12,16; 5:23)

    Ephesians 5:30 – “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

    Colossians 1:18 – “And he is the head of the body, the church . . .”

    (cf. Colossians 1:24; 2:17,19; 3:15)

    • Two major points of comparison

               The church is made up of believers, like the body that is made up of many members – For as we have many members in one body

               Believers in the church functions like members of the body  and all members have not the same office.

      Church’s Functionality Explained (v.5)

      So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

            Diversity: “So we, being many”

            Unity: “are one body in Christ”

            Functionality: “and every one members one of another”

      Diversity: “So we, being many”

            God has designed the church as a living organism with many members with various functions

               v.4b – “and all members have not the same office.”

               1 Corinthians 12:14 says, “For the body is not one member, but many.”

               God has designed the church as a living organism with many members with various functions

               Church is not a “one man show.”

               The church has leaders, but it functions the best when all the members serve with their different abilities.

               1 Corinthians 12:15-19

      Unity: “are one body in Christ”

      ·         Diversity does not mean that we stand disunited.

      ·         In Christ, we function as one body.

               Members work out their diverse gifts as they like, but as Christ, the Head, would direct. Thus they function as members of one body

               1 Corinthians 12:20-27  

      Functionality: “and every one members one of another”

               Mutual care and support are emphasised by these words.

               1 Corinthians 12:25 – That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

      Conclusion

            As a Christian, have you joined the church to be a functioning member by baptism (or transfer of membership)?

            As a member of the church, have you been actively serving other members according to the will your Saviour?

      Let us rise up to serve the Lord like one united body of Christ, as He instructed us this day.

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Walking with God

January 29, 2007 at 10:03 am (Sunday Sermon)

Genesis 5:24 tells us that “Enoch walked with God.” Many Christians today find it footsteps-for-web.gifso difficult to walk consistently with God, even for a single day. But Enoch walked with God for 300 years! A Biblical study of the term “walk” tells us that it is expressive of something more intimate than just taking a walk with God. 

Firstly, walking with God suggests that there is no enmity between God and Enoch.

Enemies do not walk together. Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The Scriptures in many places assert that the mind of the unconverted is carnal, sinful, and therefore at enmity with God. Romans 8:7 says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Thus, walking with God implies that the converted man who walks with God is no longer an enemy of God, but has been reconciled to God through the all-sufficient righteousness and atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus Christ is our peace as well as peacemaker. Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Colossians 1:20 says, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”  If you have believed on Him, you are justified and you are reconciled to God; and consequently you can walk with God.  Jesus Christ brings us to God and helps us to walk with Him. 

Secondly, walking with God implies an abiding communion or fellowship with God. 

1 John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” So walking with God or in His light would mean having fellowship with God. Such a person would not allow anything to distract him from his communion with God. He keeps his life in tune with God all the time.  We all know that when friends walk together, they would engage in close and interesting conversation. They derive strength and encouragement from their close communication. And this idea is clearly intended in the figure of speech “walk with God”. Every child of God must keep on communing with God. A Christian must draw his pleasure and comforts not from his worldly friends but from his God. He must have constant fellowship with God. The child of God must have fellowship with God in prayer. He must view the daily seasons of prayer as sweet and wonderful. So the man who walks with God speaks with God – telling Him all his doubts and fears, struggles and sufferings, all his desires and needs. The prayerful Christian will receive God’s kind exhortations and comforting answers in return. 

I remember a story told by Charles Spurgeon about a sickly Christian in Scotland who was on his  death bed, and visited by a friend who felt very distressed for him. This Christian told his friend, “Could these curtains, or could these walls speak, they would tell you what sweet communion I have had with my God here.”

O prayer! Prayer! It brings and keeps God and man together. It raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. If you have been there, you would like to be there again. O  believers, keep up your walk with God; pray, and pray without ceasing. 

Believers must also maintain their walk with God by reading His Holy Word. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). We meet our Saviour in this Holy Book, the Bible. There we hear His voice, gentle and sure, guiding and strengthening, comforting and emboldening us for each day’s task.  How can we maintain a Christian walk without having God to speak to us? SoGod preserved His inspired Word for His people. It shall not pass away for the sake of His people’s blessing. And the royal Psalmist tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Walking in the light of God’s Word is to walk in His presence. 

Thirdly, walking with God is a description of the renewed life of a believer.  

The word “walk” is  descriptive of the manner in which God’s people ought to walk. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” A man who is united with Christ should not walk like a worldly person. Anyone who desires to walk with God cannot walk with those who have no fellowship with God.  Ephesians 2:2 tells us, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 4:17 – “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” Those who walk with the Lord will be characterised by godliness. Consider what the Scripture says about the manner in which Christians ought to walk:

(1) Walk by faith: 2 Corinthians 5:7, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight).” 

(2) Walk according to the Holy Spirit and not according to carnal feelings: Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:4, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” 

(3) Walk honestly, without hypocrisy: Romans 13:13, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” 2 Corinthians 4:2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Ephesians 5:8, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”  

(4) Walk in Christ’s love: Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”  

(5) Walk circumspectly: In Ephesians 5:15, believers are exhorted to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”  A believer who walks with God will be wise to always please Him. One ought to walk with God in the same direction and to the same destination. The man who walks with God must conform to God’s moral character and will. His feelings and aspirations ought to be in accordance with the holy law. He ought to love righteousness and hate iniquity.  The New Testament names Enoch as a man of faith, and comments on his life as one that pleased  God. Hebrews 11:5 says, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Enoch was certainly a remarkable man of faith. When the time came for this extraordinary man of piety to leave the world, God took him suddenly and supernaturally. He was the first of two in the Old Testament who did not see death. 

Fourthly, walking with God implies that one is advancing or making progress in his spiritual life.  

Walking, in the very first idea of the word, seems to suppose a progressive action or motion. A person who walks, moves and goes forward. So it is with those who walk with God. They will go on “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7); they are “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even asby the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In the epistle of Jude, we are told that Enoch prophesied about the last days: Jude 14, 15 – “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  

What a blessing Enoch received from God to be given a glimpse of the glorious return of Christ with His saints in the end-times! It certainly pays to walk with God. And only those who walk with Him below will walk with Him above. The Lord took Enoch into His presence without letting him see death. That is a very great honour indeed! 

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