DiM | “Good Fight” by Unspoken

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

April 14, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Good Fight” by Unspoken which currently sits at #17 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

Today’s song is presented as a song of encouragement. The singer in the song is cheering the listener on. At points, though, the singer seems to be God but not quite. Ultimately, this song seems to have inverted our relationship with God making it about God supporting our fight and our struggles (in general) rather than us preaching and teaching His Word. The “good fight” isn’t defined in this song. The point of the song isn’t the fight, but a generic appeal to perseverance and a blanket “you’re gonna make it” so keep striving.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Good Fight by Unspoken

Until you stop breathing, till you stop bleeding
Until your heart stops kick drum beating
When it’s hard times, when it’s long days
And the enemy is right up in your face
When your back’s against the ropes
And you’re feeling all alone

(chorus)
Keep fighting the good fight (never give up never give in)
Keep letting your light shine (holding it high as long as you live)
‘Cause I’m never gonna leave you
Always gonna see you through to the other side
Keep fighting the good, fighting the good
Fighting the good fight, good fight

Even in the roadblocks, even through the rough spots
When you feel you’re giving all that you got
I’m with you in the next step, giving you the next breath
I’ll be the voice saying you’re gonna make it
When you’re out there on you’re own
You are never alone

(chorus)

Just keep on singing, keep on dancing
Joy will be your banner and my love will be your anthem
You may never know what your tomorrow holds
But you can know that I am holding your tomorrow

Keep fighting the good fight
Keep letting your light shine

(chorus)

Publishing: © 2013 Centricity Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Tyrus Music (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Jon Lowry / Chad Mattson / Tyrus Morgan

Discussion

The perspective of the one singing the song is difficult for me to nail down. The chorus, second verse, and the Bridge seem to be speaking from God’s perspective, but the first verse doesn’t. The first verse is a form of personal commentary, describing our life as some epic struggle. Who is the enemy? Whose enemy? If this is one person encouraging another person, okay… but if this is God singing, it just doesn’t seem to fit. The overall focus of the song is too fixed onto the individual, the listener. I think that is the song’s fatal flaw, it urges the hearer to focus on themselves, their struggle, their fight, their perseverance, their works without a clear Gospel message of “It is Finished”. The song’s focus is upside down. While there are elements of truth offered (we are never alone, God holds our tomorrow, and each breath we breathe is by His grace) they are stacked in the wrong order… with us at the top.

The “good fight” is undefined. It’s left completely open to the interpretation of the hearer. So, while the song has a “keep fighting the good fight” push, in not defining what the good fight is it leaves the listener to define it for themselves and then be encouraged in it. Is every fight/struggle/trial “good”?

Fighting the Good Fight

Our text for understanding this phrase will be 1 Timothy. I encourage you, dear reader, to spend some time today or in the next couple of days just reading through it as a single letter rather than broken up into chapters and sub-headings. The Apostle Paul is sending instructions and encouragement to Timothy, because he will have to carry on Paul’s ministry without him very soon. Let that sink in… Paul isn’t just commenting on matters of the church, he is providing guidance that will last beyond his death, guidance from God the Holy Spirit about how the Church will continue after the Lord has issued the upward call for Paul. I’m going to focus on a few passages that lead up to what Paul’s charge for Timothy to fight the good fight. This will be, as it were, a fly over of 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:1-7 (ESV) | Warning Against False Teachers

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

After greeting Timothy, Paul dive right into the need to address false teaching. This issue is at the top of the to-do list, and it comes by way of reminder. Paul had already told Timothy when he was going to Macedonia, and now it is the first issue he addresses in his letter. This is of utmost importance. People have wandered away from sound doctrine and stewardship from God that is by faith. They’ve devoted themselves to myths (Jewish myths, Ancient Greek myths, Gnosticism, Stoicism, etc) endless genealogies (again, Jewish myths), and ultimately making confident assertions about things of which they have no understanding.

1 Timothy 1 (cont..) Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Here we see our first charge to Timothy to wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. Timothy is to take up Paul’s charge that Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. What is that good warfare? Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the sinners lost in unbelief that they might find Faith, repentance, forgiveness, and new life in Christ Jesus. The next portions of this letter start addressing conduct in the church, leadership, and worship.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 (ESV) | Pray for All People
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

He goes on to instruct how we are to pray and then gives instructions regarding general conduct and leadership roles in general. In Chapter 3, Paul gives specific instructions on Overseers (Elders) and Deacons. After which, Paul now take some time to remind Timothy of the purpose of his letter.

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (ESV) | The Mystery of Godliness
14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God,a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

And so, again, what we see here is Paul’s central focus on the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the mystery of godliness. And, again, Paul shifts to give Timothy clear warning regarding false doctrines.

1 Timothy 4:1-11 (ESV) | Some Will Depart from the Faith
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things.

In Chapter 5, Paul gives specific instructions on matter of conduct within the church, how to treat the older men and women with respect, the care for widows and honor for elders. This portion carries over into the beginning of Chapter 6, where Paul addresses those who are under the yoke as bondservants. This is a continuation of what is being taught in Chapter 5, but we’ll pick up here:

1 Timothy 6 (ESV)
6 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

False Teachers and True Contentment
Teach and urge these things.3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith
11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession*, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

It is clear that Paul’s charge to fight the good fight is to preach the Gospel, unstained and free from reproach, until the day of Christ’s return. So, is winning lawsuits or exposing the hypocrisy of the unbelievers “fighting the good fight”? Is championing affirmative action, or second amendment rights what Paul would consider “the good fight”? Is being accepted into a pagan society or having your Religious Preference honored by unbelievers “fighting the good fight”? While some of these things can be argued as “good”, these are not what Paul charged Timothy with in fighting the good fight. Preaching the Gospel to sinners, rebuking false teachers, and building up the Church, the Body of Christ, in sound doctrine, Resisting the doctrines of demons, myths, and false “knowledge” of this world… this is the good fight.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “Let the Lion Out” by Alistair Begg (Shepherds’ Conference)

inerrancy-summitOur sermon today is a lecture given by Alistair Begg at this year’s Shepherds’ Conference (2015).

The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement as together we seek to become more effective servants of our chief Shepherd. Visit the inerrantword.com website for more information on this year’s topic.

Lecture Text

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Alistair Begg introduces the sermon title by way of quoting from a sermon entitled “Christ and His Co-Workers” by C.H. Spurgeon  (1886):

A great many learned men are defending the Gospel—no doubt it is a very proper and right thing to do—yet I always notice that when there are most books of that kind, it is because the Gospel, itself, is not being preached. Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in a cage and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I would suggest to them, if they would not object and feel that it was humbling to them, that they should kindly stand back, open the door, and let the lion out! I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of himself—and the best “apology” for the Gospel is to let the Gospel out! Never mind about defending Deuteronomy or the whole of the Pentateuch—preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Let the Lion out and see who will dare to approach Him!The Lion of the tribe of Judah will soon drive away all His adversaries!

With Easter Sunday being this weekend, pray for your pastors, elders, and deacons. They are no-doubt under a lot of pressure to get everything just right for one of the biggest Sunday’s of the year. A day that statistics have shown time and time again that many who are not saved will attend a Sunday Morning service. The temptation to defend the Gospel by appealing to the desires or comfort of the once-in-a-year attendee is strong. Pray that rather than succumb to the pressure of defending the Gospel by keeping it caged up, your pastors might instead open the cage and Let the Lion Out!

Video Link

Watch this lecture here: https://vimeo.com/channels/887255/121303688

Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) | Prayer for Spiritual Strength

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Times of Difficulty | Parkside Church

2011-alistair-beggToday, I’d like to share an absolutely wonderful sermon by Alistair Begg entitled Times of Difficulty – | Parkside Church. I encourage you to watch the video of this sermon at Parkside Church. If you’d rather just listen to the sermon without the rest of the sermon, Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith uploaded the audio from just the sermon here. Alistair Begg also shares the audio portion on his other ministry website Truth For Life.

The text for the sermon is 2 Timothy 3:

2 Timothy 3:1-9(ESV)

Godlessness in the Last Days

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Alistair also reads verses 1 through 5 from the Living Bible (Paraphrase, not a translation):

2 Timothy 3:1-5Living Bible (TLB)

You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be proud and boastful, sneering at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad. They will be hardheaded and never give in to others; they will be constant liars and troublemakers and will think nothing of immorality. They will be rough and cruel, and sneer at those who try to be good. They will betray their friends; they will be hotheaded, puffed up with pride, and prefer good times to worshiping God.They will go to church, yes, but they won’t really believe anything they hear. Don’t be taken in by people like that.

While I am no fan of any Paraphrase or “Amplified” version of the Bible, Alistair uses this portion carefully and faithfully to the Scriptures as merely an introduction. He immediately returns to the Scriptures for his exegesis.

I pray you find this sermon as informative and encouraging as I did. In closing, let us look to 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

May the Grace and Peace of God be with you always,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Church | Part 2

churchAs we continue in our study series of the Biblical picture of the Church, I want to be absolutely clear that I am not trying to “call out” any specific churches, or fellowships, or pastors. I’m not trying to convince you to leave your church, or join mine. The purpose of this series is to clearly state my doctrine regarding church and to challenge individuals and heads of households to weigh everything they are taught in their church (down to the very structure of said church) against Scripture. I will endeavor to keep these discussions on prescriptive passages in God’s Word, plainly written for us to follow. If you take umbrage with any of my assessments or commentary, I ask that you take some time to share your thoughts or questions with me (either via comment below or personal message). If you take issue with what the Scriptures say… well, I leave that to you, your elders, and God the Holy Spirit.

Christ is the Head of His Church

By way of reminder, let us review Ephesians 4:1-16, where the Apostle Paul makes absolutely clear that Jesus is the Head of His Church.

Ephesians 4:1-16 (ESV)
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The reason we are starting here is because we are going to be moving into the Biblical model for church leadership within the Body of Christ (I will be using a lower-case “church” to denote the local body of believers or congregation and an upper-case “Church” for the Body of Christ). In Part 1 of this series, we saw that when Paul was using the analogy of the Church as a building, that its foundation was upon that of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone. I want to begin the discussion of what Biblical church leadership looks like by addressing what some call a Mosaic model of church leadership. The idea that the church should have a single leader who is expected to hear the Word of God for the church and then relay what God has said to the congregation. Many such leaders take up their own Aarons as assistant pastor and then promote small group leaders patterned after Moses choosing leaders of the tribes manage the many needs of the multitudes. Some of the more modern churches might not realize they are employing a Mosaic architecture, they think it is all from corporate America, where the Moses of the organization is the CEO of the church.  The first major problem with this setup is that Moses already recorded the Law of God and we have that now in written form. Christ came to fulfill the Law (and the Prophets) and we who now believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are no longer under the Law (we Gentiles never had access to the Promises of the Law anyway) but we have been adopted into a New Covenant by the blood of Jesus Christ (The book of Galatians and Hebrews lays this out well). So how is the Church (and subsequently, each church within it) supposed to be set up?

The Foundation of the Apostles

When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ conducted His earthly ministry, He selected 12 disciples and appointed them Apostles. One (Judas) betrayed Him. In the first chapter of Acts, we see the Apostles gathered together with other believers (approximately 120 in total) in prayer. They were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit, given to them by Jesus. They also looked to appoint another witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be counted among the leaders.

Acts 1:21-26 (ESV)
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

There are some who point to Peter as the head of the Apostles, and others who point to James. Notice that they didn’t make this decision on their own, they prayed together and asked the Lord, the Head of His Church, to show them who should be appointed the ministry and apostleship that Judas despised. Please note that after the Holy Spirit is poured out from heaven, we no longer see a casting of lots to seek guidance from God. The Holy Spirit was the promised reminder of all that Jesus had said to His disciples, and inspired the writing of the New Testament. We who are in Christ now benefit from the written Word of God & the indwelling presence of the Promised Holy Spirit of God as well. When Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10) for God to show him that the Gospel was indeed for the Gentiles just as it was for the Jews, he went back to the brothers and gave an account to the Apostles. However, Peter didn’t command a change in policy at that point. He offered up his testimony of what God had done for the Gentiles during the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) and the Council also listened to the testimony of Paul and Barnabas. At the conclusion of the council, we see James sharing the council’s final decision. What we see demonstrated throughout the book of Acts, is not a Mosaic framework; rather, we see a plurality of elders leading the Church and giving council for the churches with Christ as the Head of His Church.

The Role of Elders

I want to first take a historical look at role of Elders by looking at the introduction of the Deacon in Acts. From there, we will move on to more prescriptive texts.

Acts 6:1-7 (ESV)
1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

The Church at this time was already large, and while they pooled all they had for the ministry of the brethren, some were being overlooked. Therefore, the Elders (at this time they were the Apostles) realized that for them to personally ensure that the daily distribution reached all, they’d have to reduce the time they spent in prayer and in ministering of the Word of God (teaching and preaching). Therefore, the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples. This isn’t Paul or James making a decree… the twelve Apostles, Elders of the Church, summoned the full congregation and told them to nominate seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. Once chosen, the Apostles laid their hands on the 7 men in prayer. We see these men to indeed be filled with the Holy Spirit and even preaching the Word of God with miracles and wonders, but their office is that of deacon, serving the disciples, and the body of Christ.

Qualifications of Elders

In the interest of time, let us look at Paul’s instructions to Titus regarding Elders. I had planned to walk through Paul’s instructions to Timothy, but I think it best to postpone that discussion to tomorrow (I’m trying to keep these studies to a loose 3,000 word limit). Who is Titus? Well, we first see Titus mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Titus is a Greek convert who Paul and Barnabas brought along as testimony of God’s work among the Gentiles, when Paul presented their ministry to the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Galatians 2:1-10 (ESV)
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

So then, Titus is a disciple of Paul since the early missionary trip with Barnabas (before teaming up with Silas). We see his name pop up occasionally as Paul closes his letters giving a quick update on how the state of the Church. Now that we have a good idea of who Titus was, let us begin reading Paul’s instructions to him.

Titus 1  (ESV)
1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

Notice the adoptive tone of his regard for Titus “my true child in the common faith“.  Titus spent a great deal of time laboring with Paul in the ministry. He is now being charged to do a great deal of work in Crete, putting into order what remained. His primary charge is to appoint elders in every town. If you’ll remember our last discussion, we closed with the idea that the smallest unit of the Church is the family. That it falls to fathers to be the leaders and priests of their households. If the first thought in your mind is “but what about those families without fathers or where the father is not a believer?”, I ask you to hold onto that thought for the final post of this series. We will address the “what if” and the special cases later. We must resist the desire to formulate the rules based on exceptions by focusing on the Word of God that gives the rules, and then search the Scriptures for how to address the “special cases”.

Okay, so if we look at the qualifications for an elder, we find that an elder should be above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children should be believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. Why is that so important? Because an elder isn’t just “a guy with leadership potential”, or a politician to be elected into a temporary office… he is an overseer, God’s steward of the church. As such, he must be above reproach. Paul explains what it means to be above reproach as an individual now (He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined). Look at that final sentence, though. In addition to these character traits, he must hold firmly to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. That last part, is best exemplified by examining the fruit of his instruction and ability to discipline… his wife and children. Does he love his wife as Christ loves the Church? Does his wife submit to, respect, and honor him? Has he taught his children the Word of God? Are they believers? Are they disciplined? We’ll see tomorrow in Paul’s letter to Timothy that a man who cannot manage his household cannot be trusted to manage the church. You don’t hire a bankrupt accountant to manage your finances, and you don’t appoint an elder whose family is in disarray to be God’s steward over the church. If the man is a new believer, or newly married, or his children are still infants then his first ministry is to his family. Remember, while the question of salvation is on an individual level (for God looks on the heart of a man), but the smallest unit of the Church is the family. If an elder’s children become insubordinate or open to the charge of debauchery, there is a problem within his household that needs his attention. For his family is his first responsibility.

Tomorrow, we will begin working through 1 Timothy to fully examine how Paul instructs Timothy regarding the church. In closing today’s discussion, I’d like to read from the closing of the letter to the Romans.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Him,
Jorge

Series: The Church | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

 

The Story Behind The Hymn – I Know Whom I Have Believed

Okay, so as excited as I have been about the series on God the Holy Spirit… I’m delaying part 3 of that post. In listening to a sermon this morning on 2 Timothy 1, the speaker mentioned the Hymn I Know Whom I Have Believed, and the story of its author, Major Daniel Webster Whittle. Not being much of a hymnal guy, it was the first I had heard of Mr Whittle. I chose to look this story up, and with a tear in my eye, I decided this was well worth sharing today.  I pray you find some blessing in this story, too.

The Story Behind The Song – I Know Whom I Have Believed

This beloved hymn written by Major Daniel Webster Whittle, the exact date of his composition is not known, but it was originally published in 1883 in Gospel Hymns No. 4. It is one of about two hundred hymns composed by Major Whittle as he was known. It is one of his most well-known hymns, one other popular hymn that he wrote is “There Shall Be Showers of Blessings” If you look at these two hymns for the authorship you may be a bit confused, you will see the name El Nathan on the left hand side indicating that El Nathan wrote the Lyrics, and you will see James McGranahan on the right hand side, indicating that he wrote the music. El Nathan is a pseudonym – a fictitious name used by a person or sometimes a group, which Daniel Webster Whittle used. He also used the pseudonyms Elias Nathan and W.W.D.

Daniel Webster Whittle was born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts on November 22, 1840. He was named after the great American politician Daniel Webster who was greatly admired by Whittle’s father. Little is known of his childhood. His father had heard Daniel Webster, the great statesman, make a stirring speech. Daniel Webster in this speech said “It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment — independence now and independence forever!”

This would later inspire his parents to name him after Daniel Webster in hopes that he would become a great leader in the fight for freedom as well. His mother is said to have been a godly woman who instilled in him and his three brothers strong Christian principles.

Daniel Whittle worked as a cashier for Wells Fargo bank as a teenager and into his early twenties. He was not a wicked man at first, on the contrary, he was quiet religious. He surrendered his life to the Lord one night while acting as a night watchman at the Wells Fargo Bank. He went into the vault, got down on his knees and gave his surrendered his life for the Heavenly Father to use as he would. He even became the Sunday School Superintendent at the great Tabernacle in Chicago where he would meet his wife, Miss Abbie Hanson. He would join the army in 1861 and be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. In the summer of 1862, August as the Civil War began to intensify his unit was called to go South. August 22, 1862, the night before his departure, he and Abbie were married. It would be a year before they would be reunited. In his own words he tells of his departure, “My dear mother was a devout Christian, and parted from me with many a tear, and followed me with many a prayer. She had placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack that she’d arranged for me”

This little New Testament would pay a vital part in his rededication. Whittle rose to the rank of Major and while leading a charge, actually filling in, and he was wounded in his sword arm which led to the amputation of his arm and a stay in a prisoner of war camp. It was while he was in this POW camp that out of boredom he began to search for something to read. He found in his personal effects the little New Testament that his Mother had placed there. He read through the New Testament in a matter of days and started through it again. One night the nurse woke him up and told him that one of his men was dying and had been begging for someone to pray for him. The nurse told Major Whittle that he (the nurse) was a wicked man and could not pray. Major Whittle confessed that he too was wicked man with many sins in his own life and could not pray either. The nurse said that he thought Major Whittle was a Christian because he had observed him constantly reading the Scripture and the Major Whittle did not cuss as the other men. The nurse begged Major Whittle to at least accompany him to see the boy as he did not want to return alone. Moved with compassion, Major Whittle reluctantly agreed. Here, in Major Whittle’s own words, is what took place that night: “I dropped on my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God’s promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ’s precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven.”

Ten years later at the encouragement of his close friend D.L. Moody he would enter into evangelism. Some of his first songs were set to music by Phillip Bliss. Whittle attended and participated in the memorial service for Phillip Bliss. Later he would work closely with the man who would set to music many of his later songs, and who set the music to this song, “I Know Whom I Have Believed”, James McGranahan. Major Whittle died March 4, 1901 after having written over 200 hymns.

The refrain of the hymn is a direct quotation from the King James Bible in II Timothy 1:12 “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

The rest of the article is interesting, but I wanted to stop here and reflect a bit about the message of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In closing, let us return to the words of the Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy:

2 Timothy 1 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

8 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, 9 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. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

May the Lord bless and keep you, and may the Holy Spirit who dwells within us grow us into the full knowledge of Him who Saved us,
In Him,
Jorge