One day the man noticed that Jake was gone. Then what are you going to do to fill the vacancy? He has given gifts to each one to be used as good stewards. And yet for so many that name the name of Christ, their faith is like football—an occasional Sunday spectator sport.
They are not serving Christ day by day. You want to be in the game. Our text reveals the kind of person God uses. You may think that God uses people who have impressive abilities and gifts. While spiritual gifts play a part, they are not the main feature in being used by God. As we saw in the national news recently, a man may be a gifted Christian leader and yet bring terrible disgrace to the name of Christ.
Or you may think that God uses a person who has been to seminary and has a lot of training. Or you may think that God uses a person who has a great knowledge of the Bible. While, as we saw last week, being careful students of the Bible is very important, it is not the main thing. You may be a renowned Bible scholar, and yet be detrimental to the cause of Jesus Christ. The simple message of our text is that God uses cleansed people, who are defined by two characteristics:. Paul is telling Timothy how to deal with some difficult problems in the church of Ephesus, where he was ministering.
In the verses just before, he has exhorted Timothy to use the Scriptures properly, not as Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose false teaching had led some astray. Paul uses the illustration of a large house that has different kinds of vessels. The gold and silver vessels are kept clean so that they may be used for honorable purposes, such as dinner parties. The wood and earthenware vessels are used for dishonorable purposes, perhaps in the kitchen or to carry out garbage or human waste. They often get broken and are cheaply replaced.
If you took his illustration to its logical conclusion, you could say that the dishonorable vessels serve a legitimate function and thus are just as necessary as the gold vessels. Rather, the large house represents the professing or visible church. Some who associate with the church are truly born again. Others, such as the false teachers Hymenaeus and Philetus, are probably not born again. They are the vessels for dishonor. Paul is saying that no one should be a vessel for dishonor.
The kitchen door swings open and the cook comes out with a garbage pail and starts dishing the food out of the pail. Clearly, Paul is presenting us with a choice: Do you want to be a gold or silver vessel, used for honor, or will you be a cheap clay pot, used for dishonor? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory….
As the potter, He can do whatever He wants with the clay, and the clay has no right to challenge the potter. The Bible is clear that as the Sovereign of the universe, God uses even evil people for His righteous purposes. He uses Satan and the demons, even though they are opposed to Him. He used Judas in His plan of putting Jesus on the cross.
The Bible also clearly declares that each of us is a responsible moral agent. Although God ordained that Judas and Herod and Pilate would play roles in crucifying the Savior, each of those men are guilty sinners, responsible for their terrible sins. Or, will you be a clean vessel that God uses for honor?
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You are accountable for your choice! When Paul says that a person needs to cleanse himself, he is not teaching that by our own efforts we can atone for our sins. If you could do anything in and of yourself to deal with your sin problem before God, then the death of Christ was pointless. But you can and must avail yourself of the means of cleansing that God has provided in Christ.
That is your responsibility. Rather, you make use of the soap and water to cleanse yourself. The soap and water are the means of cleansing. But you make use of them by applying them to your body. God provided the blood of Jesus as the means of cleansing us from all our sins 1 John , 9. There is a sense in which we are completely clean the moment that we trust in Christ as Savior.
But we walk in the world, where we get defiled. When we confess our sins, we apply the blood of Jesus to our dirty lives. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal 2 Corinthians To those who equated wealth and ease with piety and the blessing of God, the story of the rich man and Lazarus Luke was shocking and disturbing.
Death turned earthly, external appearances upside-down. The rich man spent eternity in hell while Lazarus spent eternity enjoying the blessings God promised in Abraham. From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. This shall never happen to You.
For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? How could it be that the blessed Son of God could suffer? Peter rejected the thought out of hand. For what does the Scripture say? Christ is the source of all our blessings; indeed, He is the blessing:.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is , the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Peter, who once rejected the idea of suffering, later has much to say about suffering in his epistles. Just as our Lord suffered because of His identification with sinful men, so God has purposed that we who trust in Him should suffer because of our identification with Him. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps 1 Peter To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing 1 Peter And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong 1 Peter If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God 1 Peter Through suffering we are blessed in many ways:.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us Romans Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him James While not a pleasant experience in itself, suffering can be the source of comfort and assurance. When we struggle with sin and the flesh Romans 7 , we know it is because we have become a new creation in Christ. We now loathe that which we once loved.
We now desire that which we once found offensive and repulsive. We seek to obey God when we used to delight in disobedience. Satan, once our master, has now become our enemy.
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Living in the midst of a fallen world itself suffering from the curse of sin Romans results in a suffering of soul for the Christian. Like Lot, we find our righteous souls vexed by sin 2 Peter For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
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But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it , or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus Philippians In fact, suffering can be a blessing in the hand of God. If we are a child of God, we know His eternal plan allows only those things into our lives which result in our ultimate and eternal good:. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose Romans These blessings fit the definition laid down in Proverbs These blessings are not fulfilled in this life, but in the next.
They are not experienced in time, but in eternity. These are the blessings our Lord Himself brings to pass in His second coming. They are based upon His sacrifice at Calvary but are realized in His coming to judge the earth:. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever Revelation The Book of Hebrews brings the Old Testament faith into focus and clearly describes the nature of the blessings God promised and for which believers waited in faith.
Their identification with Jesus Christ had brought on them the reproach of Christ and the opposition and persecution of unbelieving Jews. Things were bad and about to get worse.
Some toyed with the thought of turning back into Judaism to escape persecution. The unnamed author of this epistle reminds these Christians of their Old Testament roots. He points them to the true blessings which are in Christ. It is the blessing to which Abraham and every other Old Testament saint looked forward. They understood that the blessings God promised were not material, but spiritual, and that they were not temporal, but eternal. They knew these blessings would not come in life, but after death and resurrection:. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them Hebrews He looked for a heavenly city, a city which God would prepare. I believe this is the dwelling of which our Lord Jesus spoke just before His death:. It is the blessing which comes from faith in Jesus Christ and not from human effort or achievement.
They would do well to give more thought to the blessings of God as defined in Scripture. They would do especially well to give careful thought to this text in Hebrews:. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated men of whom the world was not worthy , wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect Hebrews Our text speaks only of Old Testament saints. Not one of them received the promised blessing. The reason, we are told, is that God wanted them to enter into blessings with us, at the same time.
The point I wish to underscore here are the two very different categories of saints. The difference between these two categories is not that one group has faith while the other does not. It is not that one group is more spiritual than the other. The difference is that one group seems to succeed on the basis of faith while the other group suffers by faith. The first group--those who succeeded by faith --are described in verses a.
By faith, these saints conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, received their dead back to life, and so on. How were these saints so successful?
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They were blessed by God, through faith. The second group--those who suffered and endured by faith --are described in the last half of verse 35 through verse These saints also had faith, but their faith resulted in perseverance rather than in success or prosperity. These are the very ones who would be chided today for their lack of faith.
The suffering of some saints should be no more troublesome to us than the success of some saints, or even the success of some sinners. It is also only in eternity that the curse of God will be fully poured out on sinners. Neither do we have basis for complaint if and when He withholds His blessings. They are His to give; they are also His to withhold. This is the profession of Job:. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. The simple fact is that our prayers betray us.
When affliction and adversity comes into our life, we conclude that suffering is incompatible with blessing. We begin to make decisions and to pursue a course of action which takes away the pain. That means He wants me to be happy. Theasaurus: Preparation Preparation 31 instances. Surrender Prayer, Offered With. Surrendering Heart, And Holy Spirit. Sabbath Observed Preparing Food. Ready For War War heroes. Battle Vigour. Be Patient! Sacrifices Sacrifice girlfriends. Volunteering Body Of Christ equipping, spiritual.
The Next Day Preparing Food prepping. Beginning On The Sabbath. Psalm Revelation God Sends Prophets Preparing Food. Joel Dead bodies Corruption Of Body embalming doubters. Medicine Vision Pools. Salt Burning People.
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