Friday, May 02, 2008

Ordination Sermon - The Fuel to Pastoral Courage - 2 Timothy 1:7 - Part Three

II. Rely on what the Spirit Gives -- The Spirit and His Gifts Bring

Power, Love and a Sound Mind

There is some discussion over whether or not the word “spirit” in this verse should be capitalized. Is Paul writing to Timothy that he has been given some inner spiritual condition (state of mind) that is marked by power, love and self-control? Or is he saying that Timothy has been given the Person of the Holy Spirit – and that Holy Spirit is marked by power, love and self-control?

I say our answer to this is of little consequence. Both answers lead to the same conclusion!

In my mind the matter is settled by that little word “us.” “God gave US.” Paul includes himself in this gifting and by deduction I would say he includes all of us who are elders.

More than that, if the Holy Spirit gives a Christian the gift of mercy... that gift of mercy will not have “fear” attached to it! Showing mercy can take enormous courage and love and self-control! So there is a sense where every gift the Sprit gives has these three attributes attached to it. So, I will suggest both: Timothy received the Holy Spirit of power, love and self-control. Timothy also received a gift from the Spirit and attached to it were power, love and self-control.

Let’s consider these three....

A. Ability – Power

In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that we Christians would have our eyes opened to the “immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe.” The longer we follow Jesus the more we understand the resurrection-like power that was required to bring us from unbelief to belief.

This same omnipotent ability to raise sinners from death to life is the same power with which Jesus rules over all creation now – for the good of His church. And since the Holy Spirit is equal in every way to the Father and the Son, it is the same power that marks Him and His gifts to Christians.

If we fear, it is not because we lack true power.

Now, there is such a silly thing as what is called, “power religion” where people get all in a lather to stun the world with great signs and wonders and their yabba dabba doo tricks. But that is not what we are all about. The Spirit is not out to WOW people into the Kingdom – He is much more powerful than that!

Think of how the Holy Spirit shows His power.

He brings life to the dead; He makes Christians: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” “... you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

He kills sin in Christians: “if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live...” “...walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

He assures Christians they are Christians: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...”

He improves the prayers of Christians: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

He give Christians gifts to serve other Christians: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit... To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

He teaches Christians the Truth: “12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

Now, if you stop and think about it, you will see that everything God is calling you to do in pastoral ministry, Julian... every single task, is something that only God Himself through the agency of the Holy Spirit can do!

· Who can save a sinner and make him a Christian?

· Who can put sin to death in a Christian?

· Who can give assurance to a Christian?

· Who can give a supernatural gift to a Christian?

· Who can improve another Christian’s prayers?

· Who can teach the Truth to a Christian?

Well, you. But not you!

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

1 Corinthians 15: 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

In fact, it was a conscious choice on Paul’s part to model for us the very thing we most need in Christian ministry. A life on fire – not with personal energy or programs or self-advancement – rather, a life set on fire by having been in the presence of God’s glory.

A man who has met with God is purposeful to expend himself, but in the unending strength of God. He is a man intent on making nothing of himself, and much of God... with all of his strength!

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

“With them in fear?” Paul the great apostle? Yes, there was fear, but it was not determinative... it was not controlling... it was not his guide in word or action. Rather than succumb to the fear of not wanting to look dumb to these sophisticated Corinthians, he chose to magnify Jesus. Was that a fearful thing to do? Yes, at one level. But here is the antidote to fear – doing what is right in the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever your particular fears and misgivings you may be certain of this: the Devil will do all he can to remind you of them, to pry them against you, and to trip you up through them so that you will seek...

· a comfortable ministry

· in a comfortable church

· on a comfortable chair

· behind a comfortable desk

· in comfortable loafers.... (well-named after their owner!)

Are you willing to face those fears? To cry out for grace and strength when they rage against your soul? To step forward when gravity itself seems to be pulling you back?

God has not given you a spirit of timidity – but of power.