Sermon Transcript: Fight the Good Fight 12/19/2021 Jeff Schwarzentraub 47 min read Lord Jesus, we give you all the glory, honor and praise for who you are. And Lord, we thank you for your living and active Word. And we believe with our whole hearts, that every time it is faithfully and accurately proclaimed that you speak. And so God, our prayer today is speak Lord for we are ready to hear. We want you to do a work in transforming our hearts and conforming us into the image of the Lord, Jesus Christ. And now for all those who are gathered, who desire to hear the Word of the Lord, who will believe what Jesus Christ says about you and will by faith put into practice, what he shows you, will you agree with me very loudly this morning by saying the word, "Amen." BRAVE Church, I want to let you know it's time to fight. I'm going to say it again. Brave church, it is time to fight. We live in a world where it's time to stand firm because we are fighting for souls. We are fighting against lifeless churches that do not preach the gospel. We are fighting against complacent churches that are going along with the culture. We are fighting against a culture that is totally apart from God, completely hell-bound. We are fighting for the souls of people as heaven and hell hang in the balance. There is no greater fight that we can be involved in than that. And it's important that we know that we're in a fight because you've always been in a fight. Even before you were saved, you were in a fight because the devil is blinding the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the glory of the gospel of God. And once you become a Christian, I want to let you know, you entered into the battle and you've been placed on the front lines and God wants to use your life to help advance his kingdom through the church with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it's important that you know that you're in a fight, because if you don't realize that you're in a fight, you're in great danger. And so as Paul is writing to Timothy through the power of the Holy Spirit, he is telling him how he needs to fight. And as he ends his letter to him through the Holy Spirit, he's giving him four commands as to how he needs to continue to stay in the fight. Because it's one thing to begin a fight, it's another thing to stand firm when you're in it. And as the apostle writes to Timothy and the church of [inaudible 00:02:11], he's telling them, "Here's how you stay connected. Here's how you fight the good fight." And if you've ever wondered how it is in our culture, that we're going to stand firm for the gospel of Jesus Christ and how is it that God wants to use me and what that's going to look like, then I got news for you. God has a word for you today. So I want to encourage you to open your Bibles up to 1 Timothy 6. We're going to start in verse 12 and go through the end of the book today. I'd like to read it to you and then highlight these four commands that Paul is giving to Timothy. Notice what he says. He says, "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God who gives life to all things and of Christ, Jesus who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without staying a reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the proper time. He who is the blessed and only sovereign the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see to him be honor and glory, and the eternal dominion. Amen. Instruct those who are rich in this present world, not to be conceded or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves, the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that, which is life indeed. Oh Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and opposing of what is falsely called "knowledge," which some have professed and thus gone as straight from the faith. Grace be with you." And as he ends his letter, we really hear the charge of the Apostle Paul to his young protege to fight the good fight of faith and to stay in that fight and what that's going to look like. And there are four commands he's going to give young Timothy, as he continues to pastor that church in Ephesus, four commands that are important for us as we're going to continue on and journeying in the faith, and the first is this. He tells us, "Fight for the faith until Christ comes." He tells us to fight for the faith until Christ comes. Now, it's really interesting because he's just gotten done talking about fleeing from the love of money and fleeing from some of these bad things and continuing to persevere. And sometimes when we hear the word flee in the Bible, we think it means, oh, Christians should just retreat. That's not at all what Christians should do. Christians are called the fight. He says this. He says, "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Because we're in a battle for the souls of people because the church has been established to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, we are called to stand firm. All throughout the Bible, there is imagery of warfare and there is imagery of battles because God knows that we're in one and Christ wants us to know that we're in one. And there's something in our heart that goes off when we know that we're in a battle that's different. Now, I never had the privilege of serving in any military branch. And I'm thankful for every man and woman in every single branch of service and I do not place one above another. I don't know enough. And I know there are godly men and women in all branches of service, amen. From an outsider looking in however, when I see commercials that the Marines put out there, something goes off in my heart. Because I don't know if they're better fighters. They think they are. I mean, if you don't believe it, just ask them. They'll tell you. But there's something about their commercials where there's a storm coming and everybody's running from the storm and this group of people is running toward the storm. And there's this invitation to a few, there's an invitation to the crowd like come join us. And I know from the time I was a teenage boy and seeing those commercials, I'm like, "I don't know, but if I was ever joining a branch [inaudible 00:06:33], I'm going on that one." Because there was an invitation to something that was great. I'm telling you, we've been given an invitation to make disciples of all nations. We've been given the greatest invitation to fight, and the fight that we're called to fight is the good fight. It's the fight of faith. It's the faith that has been entrusted to us once for all, that we are called to contend for. Jesus Christ, half brother Jude in Jude 3 says, "Contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints." That's why in Ephesians 6, it tells us to put on the full armor of God so that we can do what? So we can stand firm in the day, stand firm in the evil day. As Christians were never called to retreat, we are called to stand firm and to continue to advance the gospel. That's why the church of Jesus Christ is the most important institution on the planet because the church of Jesus Christ represents the kingdom of God on planet earth, through his people. And we're all called to be in that battle. We're all called to fight for the faith and to contend for the faith, no matter what comes. And friends, we are living in an increasingly hostile culture to those who want to stand firm in the faith. We are living in an increasingly hostile culture for those who are trying to say to those who have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, you're away and you can do it okay if we give you permission when you can meet, in the building, we want you to meet at when we want you to meet there. To which I say, no, we will meet when Jesus wants us to meet. We will stand firm and we will proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's what it means to contend for the faith. And we're not just contending for the faith, here we're contending for the faith in the world, why? Because heaven and hell hang the balance for every single person on the planet. And God's entrusted to us the faith that comes until Christ returns. Notice what he says, "Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. Fight the good fight." What's the good fight? It means we don't fight the way the world fights. We've been given different weapons. One of the weapons we've been given is love. One of the weapons that we use is we're called to love God and we're called to love others. We're called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. That's one of the weapons that our Lord uses. That's how we're called to fight. Notice in 2 Corinthians 10, as he gives us an understanding of our arsenal we've been given. 2 Corinthians 10:3 and following. He says, "Even though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations in every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." What is he saying? Our weapons are the Word of God. Our weapons are prayer. Our weapons are holding the Word of God out there as the authority of the world. We are taking every thought captive to be obedient to Christ. We are listening to what God says above what any man, woman, boy, or girl says. We try his word above any of them. That's one of the weapons that we get to fight with. We don't fight in our flesh. As a matter of fact, the flesh is something that we're called to actually fight. I mean, there's three enemies that you have from the time that you're born. 1 John highlights these. They're a lot of places that we could turn but 1 John 1:15-16, he says, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world." Well, what are our three enemies? The world, the flesh and the devil. I mean, from the time that you were born, you were born into a world system and it wouldn't have mattered whether you were born this year in 2021 or born 2000 years ago, there's a world system that's been hostile to God since the very beginning when sin entered in the world. And in every generation, if you read godly men and women that were standing for Jesus, they would you about how their culture was going apart from God. I'm no different than any other prophet and any other generation teaching the Word of God. It's always been that way. So we've always had this world system that says, "Just live any way you want. Just live for yourself. Just do what you want to do whenever you want to do it. And who is God to tell you what he thinks you need to do and who is God to tell you who he thinks God even is? You get to do what you want to do." That's our world system. Then we have our flesh, which loves those ideas. Because our flesh says, "Please me. I'm here for me. I'm here to enjoy my life and be pleased anyway I can with my ideas and I want everybody to agree with everything I say, anytime I say it and do whatever I want when I want it. And I want what I want when I want it." That's your flesh. It doesn't go away even after you're saved. And then we have an enemy of the devil who [inaudible 00:11:48] around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. So he's constantly whispering in your ear to please your flesh and to live according to the world. Those three enemies have been there from the beginning. Once you're saved, then we know we can fight. And we fight the devil by resisting him, by standing firm in the faith, by not listening to his lies anymore, by not turning around and retreating, that when he begins to tell you about your past and all the reasons God couldn't love you, you begin to tell him about what Jesus Christ did on the cross and how you are beloved and how you are holy and how you are righteous and how you are good and how you are cherished by God because Jesus Christ shed his blood for you and paid for all your sins and then rose from the dead. That's who you are. We resist the devil. How do we fight our flesh? We deny our flesh. It's an ongoing work where we have to beat our flesh and make it captive and say, "No, no, no, I'm not giving into that anymore." Just because I feel like doing that and I'm more mature now, I have the Holy Spirit inside of me. I'm going to say yes to what the Holy Spirit wants and he's going to control my life and I'm going to be in control by letting God be in control of my life. That's the flesh. And then what about this world? Well, when it comes to this world, we flee from the things of this world. When we see it in scripture and we say, "No, that's not what God wants," then we don't even participate in it. We continue to stand firm. And why is this so important? Because God wants us to stand firm for him. We are a living testimony for the Lord, Jesus Christ. And notice what he says about this. When we fight the good fight of faith, he says, "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. Take hold of it. Experience it. Grasp it." Now what's the eternal life? If I were to ask you what's the eternal life, most people would say, "It's when we get to heaven." That's a benefit of the eternal life, but that's not the eternal life. Think about John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have what? Eternal life." Eternal life is not a what, it's a who. It's Jesus Christ. It's The Eternal Life. Christ is the giver of all life. He is the life. Take hold of that. Put simply, I would say it more like this, your salvation is a pretty passive act, for it is by grace you have been saved through faith. It's not your own doing, it's a gift of God so that no one should boast. You didn't do anything to earn your salvation, God saved you. Now we think we went looking for God, it was God's [inaudible 00:14:15] things in our heart. We think we made all these big professions, it was God doing things. Your salvation's fairly passive, but your discipleship, your sanctification, your growth, it's very active. In other words, take hold of the eternal life. If Jesus has really saved your soul, then take hold of him. Experience them to the full. Grab on to him. Here's what he's saying to Timothy. Here's what I'm saying to you. Here's what I'm saying to myself. No matter how much of Jesus you think you have, I'm here to tell you, there's more. Just wait, there's more. It's why we get to experience the eternal life forever because millions and billions of years from now, something is going to go off in our soul and we're going to experience God in a fresh new way. And we're going to look at one of our friends and be like, "Guess what happened today? I mean, can you believe this? I've been here a billion years and I'm just learning that God's that good. I'm going to enjoy that for the next billion years until I keep learning more." I mean, that's who our God is. Take hold of that. However much you're experiencing of Christ in this life, I'm here to tell you, you can experience him even more. You can experience Christ even more. He says, "Take hold of it, fight for the faith until Christ comes, take hold of it." He says, when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses, we don't know it was. It could have been at an ordination when Paul was laying hands on him and imparting gifts. It could have been at his baptism. It could have been in any church service when he trusted Christ. But here's what you know about Timothy like every other believer, while your faith in Jesus Christ is very personal, it was never intended to be private. He made a profession of what was on the inside. If you've trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, I'm encouraging you if you've never gone public with it, go public with it. When you start talking about what Jesus has done in your life, your walk with Christ will change. I can promise you. Your faith in him will change. When you speak about what God's doing in your heart, your life will change. Don't be afraid to talk about who Christ is in you and what he's doing in you. Some of us don't want to grow, because we don't want to change. We want to live the same average Christian existence and just hope when we get to heaven, it's better. Friends, there's way more than that. God wants you to grow in his grace. God wants you to walk in it. God wants you to walk it out. And notice what he says. He says, "I charge you in the presence of God who gives life to all things." You ever think about that for a minute? Why do we have life? Why are you still alive? Can I tell you why? Because God is sustaining you. If God said I'm not going to sustain you anymore, you would be dead in a split second, in a nanosecond. The only reason you're still alive is because God gives you life. That's only reason people live. When God's done giving life, it's done. God's ordained all your days before one of them came to be. That's why it's so important on this side of heaven that we profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior so that his eternal life is in us and we never experience death. Because if you experience death, apart from the eternal life, Jesus Christ, you will never have life the way God intended ever again. You'll be separated in a place called hell, which is eternal torment apart from every good and wonderful thing. And notice what he says, this giver of life and of Christ Jesus who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate. Well he said Timothy made the good confession. What was Jesus Christ good confession before Pilate? I mean, what's a good confession? What do I got to say. In John 18:37 when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, Pontius Pilate said to him, "So are you a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born and for this, I have come into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." What's the good confession Jesus made? The Jews were saying, "He claims to be the king." Pilate's like, "Are you a king?" He's like, "I am the king. That's who I am. You're correct in saying that and everyone who is of me, hears my voice." Everyone who is of the Lord knows that Jesus Christ is king. We're going to see later in this passage [inaudible 00:18:18] King of Kings and Lord of Lords and everyone who's of the truth knows that. Anyone who's repented and trusted Christ, knows that. That's why Pilate had never repented and trusted Christ because what's Pilates's next statement? "Well, what is truth?" In other words, "I don't know you as a king. I don't know who you are. You're just a man to me." No, no, no. He's not just a man. He's the God man, Jesus Christ. He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lord. And Jesus made the confession that that's who he is. He never apologized. Our good confession. Timothy's good confession is when we're willing to go public and confess that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and there is no other way to God except through him, that's the good confession. Amen. And he said, we're called to contend that way. Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth, that Jesus' Lord and you believe in your heart, God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Speak it. Believe it. This will change you. I mean you can come to church and be saved to the full by even in your heart, repenting and believing, but you're not getting to live out the fullness of everything god desired until you begin to go public with what God's put in your heart. And Christianity will never be the fullness of what you desire until you go public with it. Jesus went public with it. Timothy went public with it. Every godly Saint has gone public with it in every generation. And that you keep the commandment without staying a reproach until the appearing of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Well, what's the commandment? That's everything God's entrusted to us. That's doing all the things that God requires. That's living out the gospel. Not just believing it in your head, but doing everything you can to live out what God's putting in your heart. That God gives commands for so many different things on how to live and how to forgive and how to love and how to serve and how to submit. And hey, we're entrusting all of that and he says, "Do it without blemish or stain." What's he saying? He said, "Do it in such a way that neither believer nor non-believer could ever bring up a charge against you. And if they ever did, you would say you're right and I've repented of that. Or I'm in the process of growing through that and you're right, that was wrong and I don't want to live that way." I mean, live the gospel. If you're going to speak about it, then live in such a way that brings glory and honor to God. Live it out to the full, that's what he's saying. That's what it means to fight for the faith. And how long do we get to fight? When's this thing over? How long's this game? When's the battle done? Here's what he says, "When you see Jesus Christ face to face, when you see him face to face, he says until the appearing of our Lord, Jesus Christ, when's he coming?" God is crystal clear about in the scriptures when Jesus Christ is coming. Do you want to know when he is coming? When the father says, "Go," he's coming. It's crystal clear. We studied the book of Revelation and saw the things that were going to take place before that happened, but there's going to be one generation that's going to be here that's going to see his coming, that's going to be here for the rapture and the resurrection of the saints. He says, now that happens and Jesus Christ holding your face in all of his glory, in you're transformed into his image. And as he's looking you in the eyes, he's saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant." At that point in time, you can say, "I'm done. I'm resting." Until that, stay in the fight, don't quit. Stay in the fight, don't quit. Now, why would he be telling Timothy that 2000 years ago and why is that appropriate for us to hear that now? Because you're going to want to. Because you're going to want to. Because there's going to be people both inside the church and outside the church that are going to tell you this, "Be quiet. Quit telling all these people about that stuff. Don't you understand that it that's so old fashioned? Don't you understand that books just for fundamentalists and bigots? Don't you understand that, that book's just for a select group of people? Don't you care about the whole world?" Yeah, I care about the whole world, which is why I'm going public to the whole world that Jesus Christ Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. And our job as a church is not to remain in a building, our job as a church is to make disciples who will advance the kingdom of God on this planet in this time. That's the gospel. Amen. So he tells us fight for the faith until Christ comes. We don't understand that we're in the fight. I mean, Paul has to write another letter back to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3 he says, "Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." Men and women, you're soldiers in the Lord's army. I mean, I've heard all the cute, clever statements people talk about the church is not a country club for saints, it's a hospital for sinners. It's really neither. The church is the army of the Lord, Jesus Christ to advance his kingdom on the planet as long as we have breath in our lungs. And yes, an army has medics and an army can have a hospital, but what the purpose of that is, is to get you healthy so that you can continue serve. So there are seasons when you come into the church and you're spent. There are seasons, you come into the church and you're hurt. And you say, "I just need to recover a little bit." Praise God for that. Welcome. But if your season is 25 years, that season's too long. I mean, at some point, we got to get through what we were part of because God is still trying to build you up and send you back out. That's what he's saying. And it's important for us to understand that. We just don't have an understanding that we got into this battle. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Go public with your faith if you're not experiencing that right now, see what happens. You want to put the Word of God to the test? Just go public. Tell everybody Jesus Christ is the only way and you're going to stand for him no matter what. See what happens. How about Paul? 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight. I've finished the race. I've kept the faith." He said, "What does it look like to fight the good fight?" Look at what Paul did. Everywhere he went, what was central to his ministry was edifying saints, building up people that knew Christ and telling lost people what it meant to know Christ. And he risked what? Everything. Whether it was beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, drowning, any number of things. People inside the church, outside the church, all sorts of stuff, what was his goal? The glory of God, through the gospel of Jesus Christ and the faith that was once and for all entrusted him. Which means we're not making up this gospel. This has been the same gospel that God's had since before the foundation of the world. Amen. And yet for many of us, we missed this because we think that the gospel is supposed to mean that if I trust Jesus, everything in my life's supposed to be good. If I trust Jesus, all my finances should be in order all the time and if they're not, God will give me more money. And all my relationships should be in harmony all the time and there should never be any challenge to that. That my spouse should always rise up and call me blessed along with my children, every single day. And that in the church, we would all get along as one big happy family and non-believers would say, "Well, I don't believe in what you're saying. I really love you. Let's have fellowship over a meal together." And your boss, when you walk into work would be like, "Where were you all weekend? I really missed you. Let's sit down." And we think that that's what it means to be a Christian and we miss out on the fact that Christianity is hard, because to live out the gospel is flying in the face of everything our culture says. That's why Paul writes in Acts 14, actually Luke's writing the book, but Paul speaking, he says, "Through many tribulations, we must enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22, there's going to be hard times. Jesus said, there's going to be hard times. In this world, you will have tribulation, but take hard I've overcome the world. If things aren't going right in your world, it's cool. It just means that could be a sign that you're actually living for God. If everything's going well and everybody's speaking well about you and no matter what you do, you're totally blessed, you may not be living it out to the full yet. That's what he's saying. So fight for the faith until Christ comes. Fight for the faith until he is there. Second, he tells us this, "Honor God only and honor God always." One of the commands is if you're going to continue to stay in the fight, it means you honor God only and you honor God always. Notice what he says. In the middle of verse 15, he talks about him. Talking about God, "He who is the blessed and the only sovereign, the King of king and Lord of Lords." Who is he? He's the sovereign God. What are we worshiping? We're worshiping his sovereignty. That means God's in control of everything. Now, when we hear that theologically, we're like, "Yeah, I get it. God's in control of everything, God..." But have you ever thought about it? It's mind blowing. It means everything that's ever happened in human history has always been under God's control. There's not one event that's ever taken place where God said, "Oops, that's not what I intended." On a macro level, it all has worked out according to history, which is really spelled out his-story. That's what he's doing. And yet at a micro level, in your life and every other person's life, he's working out stuff for you all at the same time and you can't screw up his big plan. That's mind blowing. How does that happen? I mean, even people that think that they can get out of God's will are right in the smack dab of God's will. I mean, even as a kid, when I was learning about God's sovereignty in second grade, I remember being on the playground, hearing that God knew every move I was going to make and I'm like, "Well, what if I fake this way and go that way?" And then it dawned on me as an eight year old, he knew I was going to fake. He knows the word that's on our tongue before we speak it completely. And at times that brings us great comfort. In times of joy, in times of blessing, what do we tell people when God blesses our life? "Man, I praise God. He's so sovereign. Look what he did in my life." But friends, God not only uses joy, he uses sorrows. God not only uses successes, he uses failures. God, not only uses the godly, but he also uses ungodly people. And does he do it? To direct his personal curriculum for you? It means this, everything that's going on in your life right now has either been allowed by God or designed by him for you, and he's using it all. Now, if you're in a season of blessing, you're like, "Praise God. He loves me." But for a lot of you here, you're in a season of trial or for everybody here, there's usually some part of your life that doesn't feel comfortable or good and here's what God would say, "I'm sovereign in that." Do you know why? Because God's not just concerned with the end result, God's concerned with growing you in godliness, holiness, righteousness, and truth while he's getting his end result. Which means God is more concerned about developing you than he is about getting you where he needs you to go. If God was only concerned about getting people where he needed to go, getting from the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land, would've been about 11 to 14 day journey. The old Testament would be a lot shorter and everything would be great. But what was God trying to do? He was trying to build the heart of his people the way he needed it built. Has God ever given you a vision for something or spoken to your heart about something that was going to happen and you thought that was going to happen like today or tomorrow, and it's still been years and it hasn't happened yet? It doesn't mean God's changed his mind, but God had a process to take you through to get you there so that by the time you got there, you were the godly person he needed you to be when you arrived. And he never stops. Do you know God still works on me? Did you know that? I mean, three of you chuckled. I mean, do you really believe that? I mean, he is working on me all the time. I mean, even when it comes to right now, as we're navigating with a couple different churches of what should be, I mean, God's spoken to my heart a long time ago about what was going to happen and how it was going to work. And I was thinking when we were talking to one of the churches in January by February, we'll have this thing inked and we're done. Let's go. And here we are in December, we're still not quite done. But can I tell you what God's done in my heart as a result of that? I love pastors and I love churches, but God's given me a greater love for pastors in churches than I had a year ago. And I have a greater love for his church than I had a year ago. And I have a greater love for how I need to walk in holiness than I did a year ago. And I have a greater love for his timing than I did a year ago. God can give us a building now. Those of you who are single, God can give you a spouse right now. I didn't hear any amens, but he can. But sometimes God chooses to take us through some things so that when he gives us what he had promised, we're more godly and righteous when we get there. And he's more excited to about that than he is about giving us stuff. Some of you are going through things in your family that are difficult. Some of you in your marriage is difficult. Some of you just got out of a marriage, is difficult. Some of you have kids, they're difficult. Some of you have parents that are difficult. You have bosses that are difficult. What we tend to do in situations like that is we don't trust the sovereignty of God. And how we tend to pray is, God, either get me out of this circumstance or get this person out of my life. But if God's really sovereign, then maybe a prayer that you can begin to pray is, "God, this is really painful for me right now. And it's super confusing and ambiguous and I don't understand what you're doing. This is going a different way than I thought. What are you trying into build in me? What do I need to change? Lord, if you'll just change me so that I can love you in this circumstance, I believe you'll take care of all those things." That's how God wants us to pray. That's trusting his sovereignty. That's when we really believe that all things work together for the good, for all those who've been called according to God's purpose. Why? Because sometimes God takes you through a season because he wants to take you all the way back here. He is like, "Yeah, you're good. I know you got around that, but there's some deeper forgiveness I need you to do. There's some deeper righteousness that you need to grow in. There's some deeper holiness, deeper truths. Yeah, you got that, but we're going to go back and revisit that again." You're like, "Are you kidding me?" Why? Because God is sanctifying us all the time, to present us pure before his father. That's what the Lord does. And we should thank him when we're going through that. But God is not only sovereign, what else is he? He's immortal, he's eternal. Notice what it says about him. Not only is he the blessed and the only sovereign, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, he alone possesses immortality. There's nobody else who's eternal. Any other person that you meet that promises you immortality, they're wrong. The Dalai Lama, wrong. Confucius, wrong. Muhammad, wrong. Jesus Christ is the only one who can offer eternal life. That's why he's the way, the truth and the life. Amen. That's the Bible. That's the gospel. So we're thanking him for the immortality that we share. Why? Because we're mortal. If Jesus Christ doesn't come back in our lifetime, all of us are going to die. You're going to die and I'm going to die. And that's why we need the eternal life of God on the inside because for those of us who have Christ, we never die. We stop breathing here and the very next second, we're in the presence of almighty God. I was talking to my high school football coach on Saturday night. His wife's been in the hospital with all sorts of cancer and different things, eating away at her body. And when we talked on Saturday night, I knew it wasn't going to be long. And sure enough, I got a text from my high school football coach yesterday and said, "Tony is face to face with the Lord right now." And then we called, I talked to him on the phone. He said, he still talks to me like I'm an 18 year old quarterback. He said, "[Shortsy 00:34:27], I want you to do the funeral, because I know that if you come, you're the only person that will share the gospel and won't apologize for it." And I said, "Just give me the date, I'm there." He's a Christian, wife's a Christian. He knows she's in the presence of God. He knows he's going to see her again. And guess what there is? Incredible amounts of pain. But we grieve, but we also grieve as those that have hope. We grieve as those that have hope. The most important message on the planet is the eternal life of God's son. Dying's not the worst thing that can happen to you. Dying apart from Christ is the worst thing that can ever happen to anybody and that's not God's design for anybody. I don't watch TV anymore. I stopped about a year ago, about two years ago, I think, because I can't watch it. I can't watch numbers come up on the screen to show me that 800,000 people have died because of a certain virus that's going around in our culture. Maybe, maybe not. I don't know. Maybe, but let's say it's true for the sake of argument. Here's what I'd say. There's still 7.5 billion people in the world that are dying of a worse virus than that called sin that are going to spend eternity apart from Christ and that's why the church needs to rise up because we have the cure. And if you have the cure to that, who cares what man can do to you? Jesus, what big deal is it that you die? But what a terrible thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God? If you don't know Christ when you die, that'll be the worst moment of your life that will just begin an incredibly miserable eternity. Because the Bible makes clear that you have an eternal soul and when you die, you either die being welcomed into the kingdom or you die separated from God forever and there's a chasm that cannot be crossed. That's why the church has to rise up. We're called to honor God and we're called to honor him alone and we're called to honor him always. We're called to honor his sovereignty. We're called to honor his immortality and we're called to honor his holiness. Notice what else it says about him, "He dwells in unapproachable light and no man has seen or can see him. To him be honor an eternal dominion. Amen." His holiness, he's perfect in every way. His righteousness is perfect. His mercy is perfect. His forgiveness towards us is perfect. His faithfulness is perfect. His graciousness is perfect. His loving his perfect. His peacefulness is perfect. His patience is perfect. He's perfect. I mean we use the word when we study the book of Revelation, our God is awesome. There's no one like our God and he's worthy of our worship at all time because he's sovereign and he's immortal, he's eternal and he's holy and he's good. And we're going to spend time with him forever and we're called to worship him. Now, what do I mean by that? For most of us, if I said worship or somebody outside the church ask you, "How's your worship?" We would tend to think instruments and we would tend to think singing. And we would tend to say, "Well, what's the worship like at your church? Do you guys use an organ or a band? Do you guys have instruments or not? Are the singers good or not?" We tend to think of worship as singing. All that is an expression of our worship. Worship is when we're honoring the Lord and giving praise to him for his eternal power, his eternal glory, his eternal might, his everlasting nature and his holiness at all times. The expression that gets expressed in a worship service is we're singing to him about the very things we've already been worshiping him about in our lives. It means this, we don't worship him on Sunday mornings. We don't just have a worship package that's 25 minutes before the preaching where we say, "Yeah, I like those songs, got me warmed up." That's not worship. Worship is what we are going to do for all eternity. And that's giving honor and allegiance to almighty God for every good thing that he is about his essence. That's worship. That's what we're focused on. That's who we give glory to. Amen. And so he says, "Honor God only and honor God always. Don't quit." Why does he tell Timothy that? Because it's going to be hard to do. We live in a culture that's becoming an increasingly hard to honor God only and to worship him only. And our world's trying to make allegiances and caveats and all these different things to say, well, you can do your church thing, but just make sure you honor the emperor too, to which I say I will never do that. I will honor Jesus Christ and him alone and so will you because that's what it means to be a godly man or woman. And we will stand firm in the faith and we will do it in love and we will do it in prayer and we will do it with a heart for the lost. But we will not back down one inch from what Jesus Christ has called us to do. We're going to honor him. We're going to gather. We're going to serve him. We're going to praise him because it's the most important thing that we can ever do on our planet. And we will not listen to anybody that tells us that we can't no matter what their good reason may or may not be. We will be here worshiping and honoring the Lord. As he tells him these things, he moves on to number three. As he's told him now to fight for the faith until Christ comes and to honor God only and always, now he says this, "Focus on God and good works." I mean, keep your focus. If you're going to keep doing this, you're going to have to focus on the Lord. You're going to have a laser focus. Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ, the author and perfect of our faith." Notice what he says here. He says in verse 17, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world, not to be conceded or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy." Now I know what some of you're thinking, "Pastor Jeff, we just talked about money last week. Why are we doing it again?" Because it's right here in the text. I mean you realize God talked about money all the time. Jesus talked about money all the time because he knows that where your treasure is, they what your heart be all. So there's something about our heart that gets linked to money. Most of us when we were young or most of you young people that are going to college, here's what start thinking about. Or if you choose not to go to college, "Where can I get the right job that suits me? What kind of money can I make so that I can buy these things that I want? My life is surrounded by what I need to choose to get the money I need to buy the things I want for the life I've created for myself." You will not find that in the Bible, just so you know. Because God puts you on mission to make disciples of all nations. Just so you know, when you get to heaven, God's not going to say, "How'd you enjoy your house? Did you like that neighborhood you picked?" He's not going to ask you, "Did you like your job?" Here's what he's going to ask you, "With all the gifts and resources I gave you, how well did you steward those to make disciples of all nations? How intentional were you about my mission while you were on planet earth? How well did you take your role and responsibility as Christ ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through you?" It means God can take you wherever he wants to take you doing whatever he wants if Jesus Christ is the firm foundation in your life. You say, well, I have a goal to do this and God gave me these gifts. Then why would you be afraid to ask God? Hey God, you gave me these gifts and I want to use these gifts and I get pleasure in these gifts. Is this the way you would want me to steward these gifts? If it's of the Lord, he'll say, "Yes." But some of us are afraid to come to Lord. But what if he says, "No." I'm not going to listen to God. I'm going to do what I want. That's the problem. And by the way, if you steward your gifts the way God wants you to steward your gifts, that's where you'll find the most satisfaction in life. I'm not telling you to quit your job tomorrow. I'm not telling you to quit where you're living. I'm not telling you to put your house in the market. I'm just telling you, first and foremost, needs to be the Lord Jesus Christ. We spent a lot of time on this last week when it comes to your money, the two most important qualities you need to have, contentment and generosity. So I think I'm getting a little greedy, then just give more away. Just keep giving more away and God will keep supplying that and just keep giving more away. That's cool, because the more God knows he can just pour resources through your hands and you're going to help other people, whether it be a church or you as an individual or however you do it, you as a business, God's like, "I can entrust that man or woman because they don't hold on to money. Money, doesn't have them." And they're content. They're thankful for what they have. They're not out pursuing a life that they can get to a certain place and then serve me. They're serving me as I'm taking them to the place that I want them to go. That's what he says. He says, "God's the supplier of all our needs." Philippians 4:19 says the same thing. "It's our God who supplies all of our needs according to his glorious riches and Christ, Jesus, God will always take care of you. That's who he is." He goes on in discernment on the Mount, Jesus says the same thing, "Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steel, but store up for yourself treasure in heaven where neither moth or rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." He's saying this, "Focus and have your treasure in heaven." Do you realize you get to help build yourself a better eternity the more you give away to God. I mean, nobody's going to be in heaven saying, "You know how much money I made on earth?" Because everybody be like, "Yeah, who cares?" I say it now, "Who cares?" I mean, at the end of the day, it's like, "How generous were you?" "How invested in a mission were you?" That's what God cares about. I mean the message that we have from the one who gave the most in the New Testament was a small widow that put in two small copper coins. That's the greatest giver in the New Testament. So don't tell me how much. Well, as soon as I get this job, I'm going to give a lot of money. Doesn't matter. God doesn't need your money. He doesn't. He needs your heart. And when you give your money, you're giving your heart. There's something where you're attracted to money differently than you're attracted to monopoly money. If I put a $1 million of monopoly money here, and I put $1 million of cash right here, and I said, "Hey, you get to pick. Which one do you want?" There's something that goes off in your heart like, "I'm taking that." Why? It's just paper? No, it's not. That represents everything that you can have and every way your life can be better if you're not focused on the Lord. It says, "Focus on me, focus on my mission. Realize I'm the one that supplied everything for you. I'm the one that will always supply everything for you." That's what he says. Then he says, this, "Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works and to be generous," there's that word, "and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that, which is life indeed." There's that word, take hold of again. You want to experience life and life to the full? Give more away, be generous and realize God's the one that provides all your needs. There's something about that where you know God's got me, where you know he's your source. And it doesn't matter what resource he's going to choose. If it's this job, that job, God's always going to be your source. There's peace in that. And notice what he tells him to do, instruct them to do good. Well, what's that mean? I thought the gospel had nothing to do with works. I thought I was saved by grace through faith. It's not by works so that no one should both. What's works have to do with the gospel? Well, here's what it means. When you come to Christ, your works mean nothing. It's God who saves you. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are, you can't get to God without Jesus. It's not how religious you are, it's not how many times you go to church, it's not how much money you've given, it's that you recognize you're a sinner and you desire to turn from your sin and trust Jesus Christ. That's salvation. You don't do anything except believe. But if you're a Christian, can I just go on the record and say something? It's all about good works. Every thing's good works. You're not saved by your good works, but you were saved for good works. And where we get this wrong in the evangelical world is we go around saying, "Oh, it's not anything about works. So I got saved and it's not about works." Yeah, and that's why we have such a lifeless church in America because we have all these people who say I'm saved, but do nothing with what God's given them. They're not staying in the fight. It's good works. Now, wait a second, you're going to say, well, what kind of good works do I do?" Because I know some of you like, "Okay, if I'm at the store and I see an older lady, I'll push her cart, I guess, out to there and carry your groceries. I mean, will that be good enough for God?" It's interesting, we were talking about widows back in 1 Timothy 5 one chapter ago. Not only did they have to be 60 years old to be put on the list, remember what they had to have? 1 Timothy 5:10. They had to have a good reputation, having a reputation for good works. If she had brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints feet, if she has assisted those distress and if she has devoted herself off to every good work. Well, what does that mean? It means to Christians and non-Christians, she was known by her good works. What does it mean to do good works. It means that Christians and non-Christians see the quality and character of everything you do in your attitude, behavior, beliefs, and practices in such a way that when they see you, they say that God, he or she says, they believe in, actually lives that out. I've seen the way they forgive. I've seen the way they serve. I see the way they submit. I see the way they take a backseat so that other people can get preference. I see the way that they're generous. Everywhere I go, that person is demonstrating good works. That's what good works means. Good works doesn't mean, "Okay, this week I'll keep on the lookout. Maybe there's a good work I can do." Good works means God, you've given me my life, my very breath, my resources, my body. How do I best steward my work for you so when others see me, they say, "That's what a Christian is." So when people see me, they say, "That's what a real Christian is." Even if I don't agree with you, I know that you believe what you say you believe. That's what it looks like. It means you have to keep focused and you have to keep going. In Colossians 3:1-4, he tells us how to set our focus. We set our focus too often on the things of this world. And the reason Christians are not about the mission of advancing the kingdom for the glory of God is that our focus is too much on the news and on what's going on around us and all the problems of the world and then we think we need to yell about people that are doing it wrongly. It doesn't matter what the world does, our mission doesn't change. And the darker it gets, the brighter the gospel becomes. What's our heart? To share the good news of Jesus Christ, that you can have life in his name. So in Colossians Paul writes, "Therefore, if you've been raised with Christ, which is all of us who have been born again, keep seeking the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God's. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things of the earth." So I'm really troubled about everything going on. That's because your mind's set on the wrong things. If you woke up every day and set your mind on eternity and the fact that Jesus Christ is ruling in reigning, that he's still in charge, that he's not sweating, he's not concerned about the world, he's looking at the world and he's a point you to be his ambassador to the world and he loves you unconditionally and he's for you and pretty soon you're going to be with him, if you set your mind on those things, you set your mind on the fact about how you're blameless because of Christ's blood. Because of Christ's blood, you're chosen. How because of Christ's blood, you're holy. How because of Christ's blood, you're completely forgiven. How because of Christ love, you're totally completely loved. If you set your mind on that all day, you will live different. If you wake up in the morning and set your mind on the things of the world and then figure out as a Christian, how do I deal with that, your day's already unraveled. Not enough of you are laughing. Our world's a crazy world. I don't wake up and hear on the news. I've not heard on any news channel, how Jesus Christ is still Lord and we praise his name. Have you? I don't hear it. You're going to hear it from this pulpit. Keep focused, and second is, keep going. Keep going. In this life we're never going to see everything that we desire to see that's coming. Notice what Paul says in Philippines 3:12. "Not that I've already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of or take hold of that, which was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, and I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Keep focused and keep going. And hey Christian, listen to me, I'm going to tell you this from a human standpoint, God already knows you're not perfect. It and God already knows you haven't been perfect since you've been saved. And God already knows that for some of you who are Christians, you've sinned your bigger sins after being saved than you did before you were saved. And God knows because he knows everything and I don't even know it. I know it's true in my life. But I'm here to tell you it's been true of biblical characters that God still use. And think about Moses. God had a plan for Moses to be a deliverer, but Moses tried to do it himself and he killed an Egyptian. Then he said, "I'm going to leave Egypt. I'm done with Egypt. I'm never coming back to Egypt ever again," as he flees to Midian only to bump into God at a burning Bush that wasn't consumed and the Bush talked to him. That's pretty cool. And the Bush told him, "Go back to Egypt. And you're going to be the deliverer of my people." What does Moses say? "No thank you. Been there, done that, not going back." And yet God still uses him to lead the people out of Egypt, to the promised land. Or what about Peter? Peter was the one that Jesus was the closest to out of all of his 12 disciples and yet when Peter gets out of the boat says, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Peter gets out and what does he stop doing? Stops faithing and ends up drinking the lake. Has to cry out, "Lord save me," and Jesus picks him up. Once Peter decides that Jesus is the Christ and it's been revealed to him by Jesus' father says, "Blessed are you Simon." Then Simon begins to explain to Jesus why he shouldn't die on the cross. The only reason Jesus came was to die on the cross. Peter tried to convince him to do otherwise. I mean you think you've sinned bad, think about that. The night that Jesus was betrayed, Peter tried to behead one of Christ's enemies and missed and took his ear off. That night, Peter said, "Even if I'll fall away unaccounted, you, I never will even die for you." And yet just hours later, he denied Christ three times. Did Jesus still use him? Yeah, he restored him after he rose from the dead and he used him to preach the first sermon in accent for the rest of Peter's life, he lived for Jesus. Friends, you haven't gone too far to say, well, I would've done that, but now I can't anymore. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, "He who calls you as faithful, he will surely do it." It means through the blood of Christ, you can regroup and focus on God in good works. And God wants to do so much in your life. I mean, there's so many scriptures that I read and tell myself over and over like Psalm 37:4, "Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." I used to think that, man, if I okay, I'll delight in the Lord and then you better give what I want, that's not what it means. It means if you really delight in Jesus, your heart will be fulfilled with great delight. Or Psalm 84:11, "No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly." Or how about Psalm 81:10? "I am the Lord. I am your God who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it." "Every good and perfect gift comes from God," James says. God wants to do so much in your life. If he can be the source of what you want rather than money and if you can use all your resources to bless others, you will be the most fulfilled you've ever been. That's what he's saying. He's saying focus on God in good works. If you do that, God will take care of the rest. Don't quit. And then finally he says this. He says, "Guard the glory of the gospel with your life. Guard the glory of the gospel with your life." He says in verse 20, "O Timothy, guard, which means to secure or protect what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge," which some have professed and thus gone straight from the faith. Grace be with you." What does he say? Guard the gospel. Guard the Word of God. Guard the things of the faith. Why? Because in every generation, there's always going to be heretics that are going to espouse certain things that have nothing to do with the Bible. When you hear somebody speak on behalf of God and you say in your heart, "I've never heard that before. That is so good. I've never heard that before." That's okay if you can go back to the Bible and say, "I see where he got that. I just hadn't heard that before." But if you're saying, "I never heard that before. That's so good." Well, where in the Bible is it? "I don't think it's in there, but man, is he a good speaker?" Don't listen. Don't listen. Don't get involved in worldly chatter. Don't get involved in different arguments. Get involved in the Word of God and guard it not just with your lips, but with your life, with your life. 2 Peter 1:3 said God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Guard it with your life. Now I believe teaching is foundational in the church. I believe it's essential. I believe it's formative. That's why God gives apostles prophets, evangelist, pastors, and teachers to teach to God. It's important. My people fail for lack of knowledge. We need knowledge. We need to know what God wants, but can I just tell you something? If you have knowledge without applying knowledge, you don't have anything at all. And I'll say it this way, Christianity is not primarily a religion of information, but rather a relationship that demands transformation. Meaning this, the purpose of me teaching you the Word is not so that you go out and say, "Man, we're done with Timothy now. I know 1 Timothy better than anybody else at any other church." Who cares? What are you applying as a result of hearing the living Word of God in your life. Knowledge puffs up, love builds up. In other words, you can sit under good teaching, but if you don't apply any of it, it doesn't help you, it actually hurts you. Let me say it again. If you sit under faithful, accurate teaching of the Word of God, but you don't apply it, it actually hurts you more than it helps you. God wants you to take what you heard today and apply it and put it into practice because it's easy to hear the Word and to know God speaking to you about something in your heart, whether it's forgiving somebody or being more generous or loving somebody or be in content in a miserable circumstance, trusting that God's sovereign to work it all out. But instead of applying that, we walk out and say, "Hey, good sermon, pastor. Really enjoyed it." And we go on our merry way. God wants us to apply it. Here's what I would say. Some of the reasons that we don't see as many people come to Christ to as we could is because we don't have any transformation in our lives. All we're doing is espousing information. If God only needed to get information out, we could send an email to everybody in the world and we'd be done with gospel proclamation. People aren't looking for just knowledge, they're looking to see if that knowledge is actually transformed anybody that's speaking about it. If you haven't seen results in your evangelism, and I'm not talking about everybody that you see comes to Christ. I'm talking about if people can hear you talk about the gospel and remain unchanged, maybe the gospel hasn't changed you. Because I find even when I'm sharing the gospel with people that want nothing to do with the gospel, they're bothered by the fact I'm sharing them the gospel, because they know that I believe what God's done on my heart. The problem in the church in North America is there's not enough transformation and there's, I don't know if there's too much information because there's not a lot of people that are preaching the truth either, we lack on both, but for some that are hearing the truth they are not applying the truth. May it never be for us at BRAVE. May we always leave here and say, "You know what? I don't know, I got much out of that one, but there was this one thing that the Holy Spirit showed me that I need to put into practice." That's the one thing that will change your life. That's what God wants for you. And when you think about this, this is not easy, this is really, really difficult. But if we can allow the Holy Spirit to change us and if we'll stay in the fight and not back up, then we can fight for the faith until Christ comes. We can honor God only. We can honor him always. We can focus on God and our good works. We can guard the glory of the gospel with our lives because we're ambassadors for the king. We're ambassadors for the king. God loves us. God wants to do a work in us. Every single Christmas, we highlight the message. Every single Easter, we highlight the message. I try to put it in every message that God loved you so much that he sent his son Jesus to die for all your sins and rise from the dead that God made him who had no sin to become sin for you so that in him, you might become the righteousness of God. He ends this book by saying, "Grace, be with y'all." We all need it. It's plural. Make God's grace abound to you. Friends, the gospel is good news. You remember on the night that Jesus Christ was born on this planet and the angels appear and the glory of the Lord show her all around him. And the angel says what? "Do not be afraid?" Why? "For I bring you good news of a great joy, which she'll be for all the people. Front to you is born today in the city of David as savior, who is Christ the Lord." Jesus Christ came to be good news for great joy, for all people who would believe that he's the Christ and friends, I'm telling you, he came for you. He loves you. He died for you. He rose for you. He wants to impart his very life in you through his Holy Spirit. Take the gift. If you've received the gift, then take the challenge to take hold of the eternal life and to grow in the knowledge and grace of God until you see him face to face. Amen. Amen. Would you stand with me? Lord Jesus. We give you all the glory on and praise for who you are. And if you're here today and you've never trusted Christ, here's how you can pray. Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner. I know I'm separated from you right now and I need your life and my life. Lord, I give you all my sin in exchange for all of your life. I confess you as my Lord and savior. Come into my life and be my Lord. And for those of you who have Jesus Christ as your Lord, would you tell him, "Lord I heard what you said to me today?" Would you just take that next step of faith with him? Would you stand firm in the gospel and allow God to work in and through you for the glory of Christ? Joy to the world, the Lord has come. May earth receive her King. Jesus, you are the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. We give you all the praise, all the glory and honor in the mighty and [inaudible 01:01:25] name of Jesus. Amen and amen. Can we give God some praise?