Mormon, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Jehovah’s Witness, Baptist, Unitarian Universalist.
When you look at the church section of the phone book you will find a long list of churches. If you look into it deeper you will find that there are a lot of different kinds of churches too. Some of them are completely opposites. You may see one church claim one thing, and another church will claim something completely different.
It is true, we are living in a day where almost anything passes as “Christian.” And the branches of Christianity are so extensive that even those of us who claim to be Christians need a great deal of clarification regarding the true essence of Christianity.
When I played sports, our coaches often say that we needed to get back to the basics. From time to time we would get out there on the court and start playing, but our performance wasn’t good. It would almost seem that each of us was playing our own game. Someone watching might actually think that each of us was playing his own version of basketball. So the next practice, the coach would pull us aside and tell us that we needed to get back to the basics. They would tell us, “This is what basketball is all about…” and proceed to instruct us in the elementary truths of the game.
Sometimes we need to do that with our religion too. We have to get back to basic Christianity. If we are really going to understand what true faith is, we have to return to the elementary truths of Christianity. And really, that is what we have in these verses that are before us this morning.
In these verses the Apostle talks about himself. He gives a brief testimony regarding his faith. As a result, we have a solid witness to the exact nature of true faith.
As an apostle, Paul is an expert in what it means to be a Christian. The Apostle Paul might not be perfect, but certainly he has excelled in what it means to be a Christian. He wouldn’t hold that office if that wasn’t true. And because he has such a mastery of Christianity we may look at his faith to find out what true faith really is. Paul’s testimony in these verses shows us that true faith is marked by four distinct characteristics.
Paul begins by showing us that true faith is verbally affirmed.
I. True faith is verbally affirmed
Paul commences his testimony of faith with these words, “I thank God.” He makes sure that Timothy knows where he stands. He verbally affirms where his faith lies.
That’s a pretty impressive thing because when the Apostle Paul wrote this, he was in jail. He had been imprisoned because of his faith. The chains he was wearing were on him because he had openly professed his faith in Jesus Christ everywhere he went.
And any person who is really a Christian will do the same. If someone really is a Christian, it is going to come out in their speech.
We Presbyterians emphasize the importance of professing your faith publicly. That’s the way you become a member of Christ’s church. You stand up here and openly affirm your faith in Christ. But true faith is not limited to that one time profession. If you have true faith Christ will permeate your speech on a regular basis. As one person has said, a true Christian will never be like the rivers that flow into the Artic Ocean: They will never be frozen at the mouth.
When you are talking with a person you can tell he/she is a Christian because Christians have a distinct vocabulary. Christians talk about God and the things of Christ. They can’t help but talk about Him. A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit is a person who will be heard voicing praises and thanksgiving to God from time to time, like the Apostle Paul does here, because he is so overwhelmed by God’s goodness.
If you are around someone who doesn’t talk that way—if they don’t say much about God or they say nothing at all about Him—then you can very well assume that they probably are not a Christian. If spiritual things are not of any concern to them, then those subjects won’t be topics of conversation. And all of their speech will be atheistic—God will be noticeably absent from their conversation.
I’m sure you’ve been around people whose speech is filled with profanities. Some people swear so much that sometimes they don’t even know they are cussing. It is so natural to them that it just comes out.
A Christian is like that in that they naturally talk about spiritual things. Jesus Christ is so much a part of their lives that He will be on their lips a good deal of the time.
So the first question that you must ask yourself is “What is my vocabulary like? Do my words affirm my faith?” If you want to judge whether or not your faith is true, you need to look at your speech. Do people hear you talking about the Lord? Certainly there is a time to be silent, don’t get me wrong. But there is also a time to speak. And one who has true faith will frequently be heard talking about spiritual things.
But as you look at our passage, you not only see that true faith is verbally affirmed. It is also visibly demonstrated.
II. True faith is visibly demonstrated
Paul says, “I thank God, whom I serve.” The word serve here is an interesting word. It’s literal meaning is “to pay homage to” or “to worship.” You could say it means “to render the service of worship.”
Paul’s saying, “I not only thank this God (I not only talk about this God), but my whole life is dedicated to the service and worship of this God.” Certainly Paul joined with the people of God on Sunday to worship God. But his worship went far beyond that. His whole life was an act of worship. His whole life was a service of worship because he sought to obey God’s law in everything he did.
A Christian isn’t a Christian in word only. His faith has feet. He demonstrates his faith in the way he lives his life Sunday through Saturday.
No one will ever believe you if you say you are a Christian, but you don’t live like it. and they have every right to believe that. Jesus himself said that you will know a tree by its fruit. And a Christian will be known by the kind of life he lives.
That’s why when you join this church you can’t just say you believe in Jesus Christ. You cannot make a simply profession of faith. You have to make what we call “a credible profession of faith.” In other words your life has to back up what you say with your mouth. If your life does not give credit to your profession—if your life does not visibly demonstrate your faith in Christ, the elders will not let you become a member here. That’s because a true Christian will seek to live in obedience to Christ.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect or near perfect. A credible profession of faith doesn’t mean that you are sinless. The Apostle Paul by his own admission wasn’t sinless. But true faith does mean that you are obeying in some degree. You certainly manifest obedience to Christ’s chief command, “repent.” A credible profession of faith does not mean that you perfect, but it does mean that you are visibly repentant. It means that you are at least trying to overcome the sin in your life and live in uprightness.
One time I took some of our young people back in IN to a youth camp. As you may well guess, there were some kids there who were not Christians and were not even from Christian families. At the end of the week these kids were in tears because they were so impressed with the Christians in the group. In their own words they said, “You guys are so weird, you say you are sorry when you do something wrong.”
Those kids visibly demonstrated their faith because they repented.
And does that sound like your faith? Can your faith stand the friend test? If I were to ask one of your friends or your family members whether or not they see you living like a Christian, would they answer yes? Would they tell me that they have heard you apologize? Could they say they have seen you overcoming sin in your life and demonstrating love and compassion? Or would they say, “Don’t listen to him. He’s a hypocrite.”
You know faith is true when it is verbally affirmed and visibly demonstrated. But forget that true faith is also historically rooted.
III. True faith is historically rooted
Look at what Paul says next. He says, “I thank God, whom I serve as did my ancestors.”
Paul’s saying here that his faith has roots. If you could somehow go back in time, you would see that everything in Paul’s life would be replicated in the lives of his forefathers. They held the same beliefs. They obeyed the same law. Nothing changed from one generation to the next. It was all the same faith.
So you have to understand, Christianity does not change. It never goes out of style. It never has to be adjusted. True faith is historically rooted.
Just before the Civil War, Charles Hodge gave a speech at Princeton Seminary. In that speech he said that the seminary had not produced one single new thought since its inception. He wasn’t saying that they were stupid. He was simply testifying to the fact that the faith of that seminary at that time had not changed one single bit since the time it was founded.
Sadly, that cannot be said anymore of Princeton Seminary. Princeton has moved far away from the historic, orthodox faith. Now it almost seems that Princeton’s Christianity now changes with every passing decade. But back in the 1930’s some men left Princeton to form Westminster Seminary. They did that in order to continue holding to and training men in the truths Christians have held throughout history.
Here in our church we regularly use the Apostle’s creed. From time to time you will here things from the Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. We don’t think that these documents have the same authority as the Bible, but they do contain the faith of our fathers. And we use them so that you might possess the true faith.
It is not necessary to go out and re-discover or re-invent Christianity. This faith has been around for quite some time.
Sadly, that is what many people in the church do. We are living in a time where there is a complete disregard of history. Church history is rarely studied and the creeds and confessions are hardly ever given the time of day. And worship services like ours (often called “traditional”) are considered out-dated. But we need to be aware that this “out with the old and in with the new” mentality is dangerous. True faith is finds its roots in the past.
And your faith (if it is going to be true faith) must be built on the faith of our forefathers too. God didn’t start Christianity yesterday. And if your faith does not resemble the faith of those who lived in the 3rd century or during the time of the Reformation, then you need to be skeptical of your faith. True faith will look the same as the faith of Christians in ages past.
Notice also that true faith is inwardly undefiled. Along with being historically rooted, visibly demonstrated, verbally affirmed true faith is inwardly undefiled.
IV. True faith is inwardly undefiled.
In talking about his faith Paul says that he serves God with “a clear (or clean) conscience.”
Young people, do you know what your conscience is? It is that thing inside of you that either confirms you when you do something right or it agitates you when you do something wrong.
Paul calls it his conscience, but you might call it your heart.
If Christianity is anything, it is a religion of the heart. You can talk a good talk and you can walk a good walk, but if your heart is corrupt, your faith is dead. You can have a person who goes to church every week, who lives an outwardly moral life, and who loves to talk about theology; everything about you from the outside can seem great. To everyone else you really seem to be a true Christian. But in reality, deep down inside, your heart is not right with God.
True faith is not outward only. It penetrates to you inmost being. Really, that’s where it begins.
Commenting on this verse John Gill said, “Every man has a conscience, but the conscience of every natural man is defiled with sin; and that is only a pure one, which is sprinkled and purged with the blood of Christ; and whereby a person is only fitted to serve the living God, without the incumbrance of dead works, and slavish fear.”
The Apostle Paul did not always serve God with a pure conscience. As a Pharisee he sought to serve God zealously, but his heart was not right with God. He had not yet submitted to Jesus Christ. His sins had not yet been washed away by Christ’s blood. Being so defiled, his faith was not true. All his works were dead.
Many people today are the same way. They do not have a clear conscience. Maybe they are like the Apostle Paul: They try to serve God, but they have not submitted to Christ as their Lord and received his righteousness. Maybe they serve, not with an aim of pleasing God at all. Perhaps they serve God because their conscience is plagued with guilt. They serve God not out of cheerfulness and faith, but it is out of a sense of fear. They think that they can turn away God’s anger or earn his favor by just “doing enough.”
But true faith is had when one can honestly stand before God without any sort of intimidation. True faith is had when you hold, not to you own ability or worth, but when you hold to Jesus Christ’s blood and cross alone.
So I need to ask, does this sound like your faith? The faith that has been described here, can that be said of your faith? Is your faith expressed in your speech, seen in your life, linked to our history or pure in your heart?
If it does not meet all of these criteria, then you need to beware. If your faith fails in one of these areas, it is not like a test in school where you might get a “B-.” If you fail in one area, your faith fails to pass the test of faith. A faith that fails even in one area is not true Christianity. And a faith that is not Christianity is not of God.
But if your faith does meet all of these qualifications, then you may rest assured that your faith is true. You may have confidence that you stand with the Apostle Paul in our blessed religion. And one day you will stand with Paul and all the other saints throughout history by Christ’s side in heaven.
In a magazine called Christian Reader Erma Landis writes:
“For decades, anyone living within five or six miles of the hat factory in Denver, PA set their watches and clocks by the sirens the factory set off five days a week. At 5:30 a.m. the wake-up siren would begin the day. The lunch and quitting time sirens would follow at their designated times.
“The siren system was eventually disbanded. But one day a friend of Landis was reminiscing with the time keeper about his job. He asked the man who would sound the siren, ‘What did you use to determine the exact time?’ With a twinkle in his eye, the man reached into his pocket and pulled out a child’s Mickey Mouse watch.”
That day everyone learned an important lesson: Some experts are not as authoritative as they seem.
Setting one’s clock is certainly not a major issue in one’s life. But the authority you choose to be the standard for how you live your life is of the greatest importance. That’s why we must demonstrate care in choosing who or what is to be the guide for our lives.
As we begin to study this second letter of Paul to Timothy, a good question to ask is “Why should I listen to you?” The Apostle Paul will be giving us specific directions on how we are to live our lives. As a result we may begin to wonder “Why should I listen to this guy? What kind of authority is he?”
If you are asking that question, then today you will have your answer. In these opening verses the Apostle Paul shows us that he is an authority we can trust. We can set our lives according to what he says because he is a man who has been gripped by Christ’s authority, who has been invested with Christ’s authority, and who dispenses well Christ’s authority.
Christ is the creator of the universe and head of the church. As a result He is our ultimate authority for all matters of life. So we must listen not to men, but to Christ, and him alone. And in order to convince us that we should listen to him the Apostle Paul shows how Christ’s authority under girds his authority.
When we look at our passage we find that we can trust Paul because he is a man who has been gripped by Christ’s authority.
I. He has been gripped by Christ’s Authority
The very first word we read is the word “Paul.” The word Paul means “little.” So our letter starts out “The Little One.” But Paul didn’t always think of himself as “The Little One.”
We know from the Bible that Paul used to go by the name Saul. Saul was most likely his Hebrew name and Paul was most likely his Roman name. It wasn’t uncommon in those days for Jews to have a Jewish name and a roman name. And earlier in his life Paul preferred the name Saul.
There is something big about the name Saul. Saul was the name of the first king of Israel. To have the name Saul was to glory in the excellence of Israel. It was perhaps a mark of the greatness of Judaism. It was Hebrew pride.
But in the book of Acts we read about how Saul/Paul encountered Christ on the Road to Damascus. It was a clash of the titans. Here comes big Saul mounted on his horse and suddenly Christ appeared to him in all His splendor. Saul was thrown down from his horse—in the posture of prostration and humility. His eyes were blinded because he was not in the slightest bit worthy to look upon the exalted Christ. A few pages later you see Saul (the great one) now being called Paul (the little one).
This man had been gripped by the Authority of Christ. No longer did he flaunt himself as Saul, the Great Hebrew. He no longer glories in his excellence. The only thing he flaunts now is how little he is in comparison to Christ.
Humility is one of the hardest virtues to develop. That’s because we are always comparing ourselves with other people. When you compare yourself with other people you will always come out on top. For some reason we always see the flaws in other people. And somehow we are blind to our own limitations and defects.
But when you truly encounter Christ you cannot make such a blunder. When you come face to face with God, your imperfections and limitations become immediately clear. The richness of His glory drives you to your knees. The inexpressible greatness of his divine majesty cuts off any self exaltation. His supreme being weighs upon you. The pressure is so extreme that you cannot even lift your face to behold him. When you are truly gripped by His transcendent authority you come to grips with your “littleness.”
Paul was just such a person. He recognized that he was “the little one” in comparison to Christ. And because he understood his littleness, he may speak as Christ’s agent. Because he understood the authority and supremacy of Christ in such a personal and experiential way, he has the authority to speak on Christ’s behalf.
Proverbs 11:2 says “With the humble there is wisdom.” Isn’t that true? Who would you rather take advice from: Someone who flaunts their resume? Someone who always introduces himself with his title and position of rank? Or would you rather listen to someone who says, “I don’t know much, but I do know this much: I’m not much, but Christ is.” Most likely you are going to listen to the humble guy—the guy who knows where he stands and won’t stand anywhere else.
Since Paul has been gripped by Christ’s authority, we know that he knows where he stands. And since we know that he knows were he stands, we may trust what he is going to say in this letter.
But his words are trustworthy not only because he has been gripped by Christ’s authority. They are also trustworthy because Paul is invested with Christ’s authority.
II. He has been invested with Christ’s Authority
After he introduces himself as “The Little One” Paul says something about his office. He says that he is “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.”
This is to make sure that we know that Paul does have some clout. Once we see “The Little One” we might be tempted to brush him off. But he points out that he has authority to speak because Christ has invested him with authority in the church.
I just said that titles and positions are not everything. But make no mistake: they certainly are something. A General in the Armed Forces ought to be saluted. A father and husband ought to be respected. That’s because they are positions of rank and influence. Here Paul is pointing out that he holds a position in the church that entitles him to our attention.
He announces that he is an apostle. An apostle is a person who represents someone else. Literally translated, the word apostle means “sent one.” Apostles are ones sent by Christ to represent Christ (or to speak on behalf of Christ). In those days they didn’t have Network Television to get a sovereign’s messages out. They had to send messengers out to make the king’s proclamations in different lands and regions. And that is what an apostle of Christ does. He goes forth on behalf of King Jesus to make His proclamations known.
And don’t think that he came by this position on his own. Paul makes it quite clear that he did not earn the position with his own cunning or through self promotion. He got it “by the will of God.” God appointed him to this work. God invested him with the authority he needed to serve in this capacity.
In a lot of places you can get your place of rank by simply having enough money. All you have to do is slip a few hundred dollars to the right person and—wala: you’re the head of such and such a department or lord over thus & such a region. Paul didn’t get his authority that way. It came straight from God, by an act of God’s own will.
He has authority because he is an apostle (one sent by Christ). He has authority because this office came to him by the will of Christ (i.e. it was God’s desire that he serve in this way). And he has authority because this office is “according to the promise of life that is in Christ.”
What exactly does that mean? “The promise of life” is the salvation that comes through Christ. Christ, through his life, death, and resurrection, secured eternal life for his people. But those people need to be organized and led. They can’t be just running around here on earth like a mob. They need leadership. They need people to guide them.
That’s what Paul means when he says that his office is “according to the promise of life that is in Christ.” The logical conclusion of the salvation of God’s people is the leadership of God’s people.
Don’t forget that! We live in a day where people buck against authority like crazy. And the problem exists in the church too. Church officers are dismissed without a second thought. People will say, “Hey, I’m a Christian. I love Jesus. All I need to do is follow Jesus. I don’t need these elders or deacons telling me what to do.” Well that’s not true. Christ has appointed church leaders that you are to follow. Moreover they are there because salvation demands it! Leaders are there because it is “in accord with the promise of life.”
And this letter must receive your full consideration because it comes from one who is a divinely appointed leader/messenger. You better listen to Paul because when you listen to him, you are listening to Christ.
You must listen to the Apostle because he is gripped by Christ’s authority. You must listen to him because he is invested with Christ’s authority. And you must listen to them because he dispenses well Christ’s authority.
III. He dispenses well Christ’s Authority
No one would listen to a person who doesn’t use his position right, would they? You wouldn’t willingly listen to someone who was a tyrant. No. You want someone who not only holds a place of authority; you want someone who rightly uses his authority. Well the Apostle Paul is that kind of person. He not only holds a place of authority, he dispenses well his God given authority.
Look at the second verse. Look at how loving Paul is when he greets Timothy. He says, “To Timothy, my beloved Son. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You notice the affection. These are not words of a tyrant. These are the words of a loving father and mentor. Timothy had been under Paul’s tutelage for some time and a strong bond had developed between them. And so he greets him with the utmost affection. Then Paul bestows a blessing—a blessing of grace, mercy and peace. He exercises his God given authority in the most meaningful way possible: He prays for the prosperity of his young disciple.
A position of authority is obviously a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required. Those of us who God has appointed to be superiors must never seek our own welfare first. Instead we must seek first the welfare of those who are put under their care. It does not matter if we are an elder, a mother, an employer, a husband or a big brother or sister, we are given that lot in life because God wants us to look after those under us. He has given us that place of prominence so that we might demonstrate Christ’s superlative love.
And what is the chief way that Christ exercises his authority? Certainly it was in laying down his life for his sheep. But it is also expressed in his continual intersession for us. Throughout his life on earth, Jesus prayed. Set times were appointed in the day for prayer. Sporadic nights were given to prayer. And even now, as he sits at God’s right hand in heaven, His chief work is prayer. Until He comes again He will never cease coming to His Father on the behalf of his people.
Paul then, uses his authority well when he prays for Timothy. What better things could Paul seek on Timothy’s behalf? He asks that Timothy may receive Grace. Grace is that unmerited favor of God. He asks that God would rain down all from heaven all that Timothy needed in life, but had forfeited because of his sin. Mercy is that sweet blessing that keeps God’s wrath from being poured out. Peace is the wholeness / or complete wellness of person. It is the financial, emotional, physical health that enables a person to carry out one’s duties in life.
This prayer is not just a formalized greeting. It is a superb illustration of how one is to use his God given authority. Paul not only occupies a place of authority, he exercises his authority with the utmost proficiency. And as we see Paul’s competence in handling his authority, we must consider well what he says in the rest of his writing. We may listen to him because his authority is not being used for his own welfare. It is being used for our welfare and for our greater prosperity in life.
In his book In the Eye of the Storm, Max Lucado tells the story of a captain who had to submit to a greater authority.
Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge in order to keep eye on all activities. Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.”
“Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out.
The lookout replied, “Steady, Captain,” which meant they were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: ‘We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.’“
Back came the signal, “Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees.”
The captain said, “Send: “I’m a captain, change course twenty degrees.’“
“I’m a seaman second-class,” came the reply. “You had better change course twenty degrees.”
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send: ‘I’m a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.’”
Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.”
The captain changed his course immediately.
If you are asking the question, “Why should I listen to you?” You have your answer. Paul is the lighthouse grounded upon Christ. Our God has invested him with authority so that he may serve as a beacon who will direct us how we must navigate our lives here on earth. He knows where he stands: He has been gripped with Christ’s authority. Therefore he will not venture to lead us astray. Let us then act like that sea captain and humbly submit to his every word.
In this passage Paul likens preaching to a gift. When he was ordained with the laying on of hands, he was set apart for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel.
And Paul writes this to encourage Timothy to use that gift. And he does so by saying that we must “fan it into flame.” Some of the versions will say, that it must be “stirred up.”
The idea is that the gift is analogous to a small spark or a little ember that is in danger of burning out.
But what I want you to see is that in this passage Paul provides some kindling for preaching God's word. That is to say, there are two things that are said here that should encourage us to be vigorous in our preaching.
You'll note that one of the things that Paul says is that the gift of preaching is divinely given.
I. The Gift of Preaching is Divine in its origin
Paul highlights this when he says that this gift is “of God.” Now, you should understand that he didn’t have to add this. He could have simply said, “fan into flame the gift that is in you.” But he didn’t do that. He found it necessary to underscore the fact that there is something inherently supernatural about preaching. It is "of God."
That it is something that is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit should help offset the burden of responsibility that is placed on us. We are to fan it into flame. That’s our responsibility, and a great one at that! But here is a reminder that this gift is not something that is natural to us or based on our ability. It isn’t derived from our personal expertise or some inherent eloquence with which we were born.
Being that its origin is found in the kind hand of the Holy Spirit, we can rest in knowing that ultimately it is not our skill that will make it effective.
A lot of people struggle with the whole divine sovereignty-human responsibility matrix. The Bible posits both truths and really doesn’t try to explain them. You know, “Work out your salvation, for it is God who works in you to will and to do his good pleasure.” The Bible states this interchange very matter of factly. And a lot of people struggle with how that can comport intellectually.
I admit, there are a lot of things in Scripture I don’t really understand. That whole trinity thing, how Christ can be fully God and fully man. I just haven’t been able to grasp those yet.
Well, this is another one. But instead of being something we get in a mental tussle over, it is laid forth as a means of comfort to us.
I think that is what Paul is doing here. Hey timothy, you need to fan into flame this gift. It is your responsibility to preach and not let this thing be snuffed out.
But here’s the good news: This is God’s gift that you are stirring up. This thing that you are doing is something that is heavenly, and you can be sure that the Spirit who put it there will be right there to help you all along the way.
So, in order to help us stir up our gift, Paul reminds us that it is divinely given. But you’ll notice that he doesn’t just hint at how divine it is. He gives us a small indication of how powerful it is.
II. The Gift of Preaching is Overwhelming in its Potency
Paul tells us that we need to “fan in to flame the gift of God.” And it is by no means a stretch of the metaphor to say that preaching is a fire. When it is kindled it carries with it an inherent power to destroy and effect God’s purposes.
You might hear the echo here of what God says through the Prophet Jeremiah, “Is not my word like a fire, says the Lord. Like a hammer that breaks the rock.”
This is just another confirmation that the primary way we effect reform is through the simple preaching of the gospel. The Bible talks about how foolish preaching seems. And it does seem so foolish. It is so simple. It is so plain. But it is powerful.
And Satan would love nothing more than to squelch every trace of preaching. It is a complete menace to him and it vexes him because it is like a cannonball crashing down upon his kingdom.
And you can think of preaching as the incinerator of sin.
I am a die hard Calvinist. As such, I have a very bleak view of human nature. This is how much I believe in man’s depravity: For a while, whenever I got a new Bible the first thing I would do is take a highlighter and turn to Romans 3 and highlight the passage that says, “No one does good, not even one.”
And in the face of such calloused depravity, how in the world are we going to accomplish anything? How is it that the kingdom of God can be advanced at all? The answer is right here. It is through the firestorm of preaching.
And so, brothers, I would encourage you to kindle again the gift of God that is in you. If you are a man ordained to the office, let your lips burn hot with the truth of Christ’s word and may you make it your goal to melt the pews every time you enter that pulpit.
Kindled Fire is dedicated
to the preaching and teaching ministry of
Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.