Archive for the ‘GraceLife’ Category


 “How to Make God’s Word Attractive”

And now the shift from the protection of sound doctrine to the practice of sound doctrine.

This connection between belief & behavior must be grasped by all Christians if we’re to be in the world but not of the world! Christians are called to engage the culture around them. We are to be culture changers, and that requires credible lives that have been transformed to the point that they are engaging and inviting. Christians will never impact the culture around them through distance and withdrawal. (JT)

Making God’s word Attractive! & Living differently in the Power of Grace!

Titus 2:1-3 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,

Verse one in other translations:„

  • Phillips – Titus 2:1 Now you must tell them the sort of character which should spring from sound teaching.
  • KJV Teach that which becomes sound doctrine…
  • „ NASB Teach that which is fitting with sound doctrine…

Accords or fitting is the Greek word “prépō” – To be eminent, distinguished, to excel. In the NT usually in the impersonal form prépei, it means becoming, proper.[1]

Paul describes “sound doctrine” as becoming, fitting, excellent, distinguished and I might add “elegant.” He wants Titus to teach and practice that which expresses the elegance and beauty of sound doctrine.

So Chapter two has some insights in how we are to make the Word of God Attractive to the culture around us.

I. Top down elegance (1-3)

(1)  The Older men and women set the mark for elegance of the Word.
    • Whether young or old, married or single, we are all needed in the local church.
    • Older believers are especially important
(2) Your Influence is greater than you think!
(3) The churches impact on the culture depends upon the beauty of the Older believers!

 Regardless of age, gender, occupation, or any other classification, God calls us to live differently in whatever environment we find ourselves! “All true believers are expected to have faith reflected in their conduct & to have their conduct affirm their faith!” (Kent Hughes)

A. Older Men!

(2 – Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.)

(1)  Older Men should be distinguished with the beauty of the Gospel
      • Zechariah (80) and Paul (50’s) were called ‘old man’ in Scriptures
      • This is Top down Body Life
      • Top Down Body Life is sustainable and produces Godly Impact.
(2) Sober – abstain from wine or at least from its immoderate use (always clear –headed)

“Sober” is nēphalios, “abstaining from wine, either entirely or at least from its immoderate use.”Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 190.

(3) Dignified – noble, respected and admired. They have majestic and awe-inspiring qualities that do not repel but attract people. The presence of Christ is seen.

“Grave” is semnos, “august noble, venerable, reverent.” Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies – Volume 2: Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 190. Semnós represents not only earthly dignity, but that which is derived from a higher citizenship, a heavenly one, which is the possession of all believers. There lies something of majestic and awe-inspiring qualities in semnós which does not repel but rather invites and attracts Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “σεμνός”.

(4) Self-controlled-self-restrained, his passions and desires are all under the cross.

self-disciplined in one’s freedom, self-restrained in all passions and desires. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “σώφρων”.

(5) Sound (Vitality) in Faith (personal relationship w/God); (You know He sees God in every circumstance)
(6) Sound in Love (relationship w/others);
(7) Sound in Steadfastness (bear up well under the stress, endurance as to things or circumstances) –Go to guy when your world is falling apart.

Q: Where are the older men? Step up to the plate!

„ The Older Men establish the benchmark for everyone in the church to attain to.

„ God always works TOP DOWN when He wants to impact the church and the community!

B. Older Women! (3)

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

(1)  Reverent in behavior – Becoming for they act like sacred people.
(2)  Avoiding the ugliness of gossip & drunkenness.
(3)  Teachers of Good (Phillips-examples of the good life)-training and schooling the younger (neo) mom’s and wives.
      • They should channel their energy into mentoring the new wives and mom’s.
      • Train the new moms and wives by bringing them to their right minds and
      • To know the way to love their husbands and children.
(4) Pure – not defiled
(5) Caring for the home
(6) To be under the leadership of their husbands.
(7) So that people will not treat the Word of God with irreverence or regard it as nothing of God.

1 Peter 3:1-6 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Q: Where are the older Women?

  • „ Older women get involved in discipling younger women.
  • „ Discipling young moms in matters of family & Christian lifestyle.
  • „ Focus on their responsibilities to live out the Word of God toward their husband and their children, and bringing the power of the Word of God into their home.
  • „ You have a command to be “Titus Two-ing!”

Where have we gone wrong in the 21st century church? The same way they went wrong in the 1st century church. When each one became self-focused instead of body-focused, the church declined in spiritual power, families broke up and churches became divided. The culture looks at the church as says, “you have nothing for me.” Your families are messed up, your children are just like mine, your full of strife and worry and stress, just like me.

Church becomes a show, a form of godliness, a feel-good assembly, but there is no community, no power to build Godly marriages  and families.

So discipleship and community and mentorship become foreign phrases, and we focus on the speaker of the music or the facilities or the children’s ministries. Church becomes a convenience that we fit into our busy, hectic, stressful lives.

For a church to be set in order and effective according to Paul, there must be leadership from men and women who pour their lives into the young people who will follow them. There should be a personal investment in regular fellowship, disciplined worship, & church community life! The Older Christians are to make the Word of God ATTRACTIVE through inviting lives! (Not judgmental lives)

 C. THE YOUNGER SAINTS! (4-8)

(1) Younger Women! (4,5) (READ)

a.  They should learn how to love their families & live godly lives.

b.  Paul says to young wives make family your highest priority!

(2)  Younger Men! (6-8)

Titus 2:6-8 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

URGE is Parakaleo – come alongside them and work with them on being sound-minded, in touch with the realities of life, the importance of family. Life is not about money!

a.  They should display sensibility.

Sober-minded – sound-minded, to exercise self-control, to have one’s total life under control of the mind.

b.    They should be a positive role model! People are watching their lives

One pagan said after receiving a gospel tract from a zealous missionary, “Thank you for this tract, now I will watch your tracks and decide about becoming a Christian.”

Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior.

c.   Teaching must be with integrity (not for gain or position, but with genuine concern)

d.  Demonstrate dignity

e.  Sound Speech (that cannot be condemned)

f.    No one opposed to the Gospel can say anything evil about you.

D. All four groups have this same word – self-control!

(1) Freedom in Christ doesn’t give believers the liberty to cast off all moral restraint.
(2) Nor does it call for a withdrawal from life & its temptations.
(3) It calls for a self-disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world but not of the world.
(4) It calls for Christians to live sensibly & reasonably!

a.   The Christian Church effects the community only as it functions as a caring, discipling community of growth into the reality of the Life of Jesus Christ

b.  Our actions must be considered in light of their effects upon others!

c.   Seek the others good!

E. THE BONDSERVANT SAINTS! (9-10) (EMPLOYEES)

Titus 2:9-10 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

(1)  Slaves were to be examples
      • They should not revolt but submit to their masters, work hard to please them, avoid arguing with them, resist stealing from them(“I deserve this since he isn’t paying me enough!”)
(2) They adorn the Gospel through their behavior
      • They must work in good faith so that, “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive”(NIV).

It was a custom among the Greeks as well as the Jews not only to erect, but also to repair and adorn the monuments of those who had merited them or who had suffered an undeserved death[2]  – ADORN THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST WITH YOUR LIFE

Q: Do you adorn the doctrine of God our Savior? (i.e. make it attractive with your life?)

(3) (vs 10) Not pilfering – thieving, to embezzle.
(4) What happens here? – Paul doesn’t tell them to rebel??? No, but he does remind them now that they have salvation & their Master doesn’t…
      • they are master of their superiors future!
      • This is how lowly slaves can impact their culture!

F. (5,8,10) “That”

Each occurrence begins a clause that expresses the goal or purpose of the behavior that is encouraged.

(1) Vs 5 – (that the Word) Proper Christian behavior has a significant impact on pagan attitudes toward Christianity!
(2) Vs 8 – (That as opponents) It silences its opponents by correct Christian teaching.
(3) Vs 10 – (so that you may adorn) It attracts a lost world to Christianity.

Poor Testimony – During the Spanish conquest of Mexico under Hernando Cortez in the early 1500s, a resistance leader named Hatney was captured after a fierce battle and sentenced to be burned alive. After tying him to the stake, his captors urged him to become a Christian so that at his death his soul might be given an entrance into heaven. He asked his tormentors if they expected to go to this place. On being told that they did, he cried out, “Then I will not be a Christian, for I would not again go to a place where I would find men so cruel!” – H.V.L. Our Daily Bread, June 18

  • How we live either blasphemes the word (vs 5) or beatifies it!
  • Adorn = your life is decoration and tribute to the crucified Son of God. You can be an enticement to folks sick of the culture.

Back in 1985 a 40’, 45-ton, Humpback whale made a wrong turn during his migration along the California coast. Well-wishing friends affectionately named the humpback whale Humphrey. The wayward mammal became a national celebrity when he turned into San Francisco Bay, swam under the Golden Gate Bridge, and managed to navigate 70 miles up river. For more than 3 weeks, Humphrey defied all efforts to get him back to salt water. Finally, marine biologists tried to lure him with the recorded sounds of feeding humpbacks. It worked. Humphrey responded to the “happy humpbacks” and followed “them” back to the Pacific.

  • Everyone has the role of making God real to someone else!

II. LIVING DIFFERENTLY, IN THE POWER OF GRACE! (11-15)

A. The Grace of God not only saves us but also teaches us how to live the Christian life.

Jesus saved us not only so we’d belong to Him, but also so we would live like we belong to Him!

(1) Vs.11 & 14 show what God has done for us!
(2) Vs.12 & 13 show what we should do for God!
      • We should live for Him & look for him!
(3) The Grace appeared in Jesus so that we can bring His Grace to our friends and neighbors.

B. Why We Are Different? – (PAST!-11) – because Grace has Appeared

Rom.5:10 “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

“Only as we grasp the significance of God’s grace can we eagerly do what is pleasing to Him!”[3]

C. Our PRESENT is different (12)

Q: What reasons does Paul give on why a Christian should live differently?

  1. What he should give up
  2. How he should now live.
(1) Say NO to ungodliness!
(2) Say YES to setting God before you in everything!
  • We are surrounded by a world that doesn’t say “no” to anything!
  • In fact, this world says yes to everything

A story is told of a young girl who accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. “Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your life?” inquired an old deacon. “Yes, sir,” she replied. “Well, are you still a sinner?” “To tell you the truth, I feel I’m a greater sinner than ever.” “Then what real change have you experienced?” “I don’t quite know how to explain it,” she said, “except I used to be a sinner running AFTER sin, but now that I am saved I’m a sinner running FROM sin!”

  • „ Godlessness – Ignoring God’s authority over your life and decisions.

So what will ultimately make us holy?…not willpower, not guilt, not an inspiring message, but deep apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.

The Puritans taught this truth w/the image of the live oak, a variety of trees whose leaves – though dead – stuck to their branches through the winter. What eventually forced the leaves from the tree was not the abuse of the cold or the beating of the wind, but the new life of springtime welling up w/in the branches & forcing out what was dead.

We are the same!

Our evil affections are replaced by Jesus Christ and all that He is. We don’t just talk about Him, we live with Him, through Him and because of Him. Just as the Ark of Testimony was not simply talked about, but was carried with you. It was at the center of the community. As the Grace of Christ works in your life it will bring Christ into your life.

D. LOOK AT OUR FUTURE! (13)

  • What begins with grace will always lead to glory!

The return of Christ for His people is more than a blessed hope…

  • „ it is a joyful hope(Rom.5:2);
  • „ it is a unifying hope(Ep.4:4);
  • „ it is a living hope(1 Pet.1:3);
  • „ it is a stabilizing hope(Heb.6:19);
  • „ it is a purifying hope(1 Jn.3:3).[4]

Glorious appearing – to appear suddenly upon the scene.

A tourist who visited an exquisite garden on a lovely estate in Italy spoke to the caretaker: “How long have you been here?” he asked. “25 years.”
“And how often has the owner been to see the estate?” “4 times.”
“When did he come last?” “12 years ago.”
“Who comes then to look after things?” “I am left pretty much alone.”
“Yet you keep the garden so beautiful and spotless that one would think you were expecting the owner tomorrow.”
“Today, sir, today! replied the caretaker.”

E. THE REDEEMED! (14,15)

The highest & purest motivation for Christian behavior is not based on what we can do for God, but upon what God has done for us…& will yet do!
(15) Again Paul tells Titus to declare these things, to exhort and rebuke.

Let no one disregard you, “think around” you, act as if what you are saying is not important.

In all your ways make Christ known, and you will never be ignored or though past.

With Jesus Christ as your life, you are not one whom people can disregard.

SAMSON

Samson made a mess of his life. He took His eyes off God and so God took his eyes. But Samson once again set God before him and impacted the culture.

Judges 16:28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

They could not ignore the power within Samson through God! You must not allow people to disregard the Power of Christ living in you!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “prepo”.

[2]. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “kosméō.”

[3] Ibid; pg.77

[4] Warren Wiersbe; With the Word; pg. 807,808.

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Sometimes I feel alone in my struggles. I know other folks feel that way, because they have told me. Friends seem to have forgotten us, we feel isolated, the Word of God is dry and comfortless and our prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back. I do not struggle with depression, but I know many people that do. I usually tell them to make a list of all the things and people they are grateful for, and even to write letters to people expressing their thanks. But still they struggle. No matter how much “Bible” we know, no matter how much serving we do, sometimes we just feel alone, or “blah” or “blue” or “empty” or ___________… just fill in the blank. We can’t put it into words. At the root of it all, God seems distant…

When God seems Absent

I ran across a verse that I knew about, but the Holy Spirit used it to shout at me.

2 Chronicles 32:31 And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.

If I could offer some encouragement to you, allow me to pass on some light and truth…Whenever you are going through whatever you are going through, do two things.

1. Thank God for testing your heart.

2. Look to God and (after doing a heart check) tell Him you will never desert Him.

God does leave us at times. I know that runs contrary to what preachers tell us, but, even though the Holy Spirit indwells us, sometimes He leaves us alone. God wants to know what is really in our heart. Picture Peter being led out of the prison. As soon as the Angel got Peter to the road, a safe distance form the guards, He left him. The Angel disappeared. Peter was free to do whatever his heart wanted. He could have fled, but Peter chose to join his friends, to tell them the good news.

God was with David, and while David was on the run, God protected him from Saul and encounters with the Philistines. But when David lived among the Philistines, God seemed to leave him. Finally David reached that horrible moment in Ziklag, when his wife and children had been kidnapped, his possessions burnt, and his mighty men had taken up stones to kill him. At that moment God saw what was in David’s heart. David encouraged himself in the Lord!

God wants our heart to be His! Even in distress, sorrow, hardship and yes, when we feel all alone. He is always watching, He is always waiting, and He is always wanting you to give your heart to Him. No coercion, no gifts attached. He wants you to give your heart to Him simply because He is God.

When you have those moments, or days, weeks or even months of feeling alone, discouraged, and even abandoned…look up to God and realize He is looking at your heart. He wants to know what is in your heart. When you realize God always has purpose, even when you feel He has left you, stop looking within and look at Him! Do a heart check, and shout out with David:

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts. (Psalm 119:93-94)

Even when you feel God has left you, do not leave Him. Declare “I am yours!” Remember, God wants to see what is in your heart.

Fools say in their heart, “there is no God. (Psalm 14:1)

Wise men say “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” (Psalm 73:26)

How did David survive an impossible calamity? How will you survive those times of personal struggle? How will you go on to excel and overcome like David. The answer is revealed in Psalms 57, when David barely escaped from King Saul in the cave. David wrote:

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Psalm 57:7 

My Heart is Fixed

Is your heart fixed on God? Is your heart firmly in God, even when you feel alone and abandoned? How about when you have suffered a horrible loss? What about when your friends want you dead? Is your heart still fixed on God then?

This is what God wants. He wants your heart to be firmly fixed upon Him, even when you have lost it all!

If your heart is fixed in the bad times, God will “FIX” your heart for all your times! Will you pass His test? Learn to worship Him at all times, even when He seems to be absent!


What makes you distinctive?

Anthony Davis has a distinctive unibrow that he’s proud of. In fact, he has a unibrow patent.

The dictionary defines distinctive as a “noun. 1. A distinguishing mark or quality; a characteristic.”[1]

In his book The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms, Walter B. Shurden identifies four freedoms that have characterized Baptists through the centuries:  Bible freedom soul freedom, church freedom, and religious freedom[2]

These are Baptist “distinctives”. You thought it was mainly ‘baptism by immersion’, but no, these are the distinguishing marks of Baptist churches.

1. Bible freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture.

2. Soul freedom is defined as the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.

Also known as the priesthood of all believers, soul freedom implies that all believers share as equals in Christ’s Body, the church, and have a priestly role toward God and each other.  Soul freedom affirms our core belief in individual choice.  We believe that each person was created in the image of God, and therefore, is able and responsible, under God, to make moral, spiritual, and religious decisions.[3]

3. Church freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ.

4. Religious freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.

Now, whether these distinctives characterized the New Testament church are a matter of discussion as we determine what kind of church we want to be. From the consensus that I am gathering, we want to be a Christ-centered, Word-centered church, one which follows the teaching and example of the New Testament. I believe that the number one distinctive we should have is that we are a disciple-making church.

What Distinctives make a Disciple Making Church?

Let’s look at our text and see what God’s Word says our “distinctives” should be:

What are the Distinctives of Ministry Paul imparted to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1-16?

A.  Dependence on the Holy Spirit to protect against the flesh.

  • The Wisdom of Man exalts itself against the Wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is the Cross and the expression of the Cross throughout the Word.

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,

  1. Religious people will depart from true faith.
  2. Devote themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons: i.e. Satan in the garden – it is ok to do this. (Not demon possessed, but influenced because they exalt their own wisdom above God’s Word.)
  3. People whose conscience has become seared (they have resisted the Holy Spirit and failed the grace of God – bitterness, moral impurity, temporal values)
  4. Determine certain “rules” that you must follow to be ‘sanctified’.
  5. Create barriers to God’s creation, for everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving – no barriers to people or things.
  6. Results in an inward focused, fleshly ministry, opposed to the Work of the Holy Spirit.
  7. Man’s philosophy and traditions guides ministry. (Why do we do it this way? Because we have always done it this way)

B.  Honesty with the Word

vs 2: through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared

We don’t close our minds to what the Scriptures really says. We don’t twist it to mean something that is more pleasing to our ideas. We submit our lives to the authority of the Word, not having our consciences seared by resistance or wrong values.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Scripture is exalted and obeyed, taught, used for reproof and correction and training in righteousness, so that we might be competent and equipped for good works.

We do not sear our consciences to permit laziness and apathy in following Christ. You can usually tell that is what is going on in a typical church because the people are not in the Word.

C. Priority of Grace

vs 4: For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

Grace is for the weak, the sinful, the unlovely. If we are honest with each other about our needs and sins, we will avoid false piety and false holiness. We will welcome all into our fellowship, and count on God’s Grace to move us towards Him.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

D. Devotion to the Word and Prayer

vs 5: for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer

We will develop a community centered around the Word and prayer together. Each one of us will know he Word. Each one of us will be praying. This is not limited to the Pastor or Elders or Deacons. Every Member is a priest. No saying “I can’t”, and living with a seared conscience. We are made holy by the Word and prayer!

E. Servants trained in the Word and Doctrine

vs 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.

Our church will be about training every member to be ‘good servants’ of Jesus, trained in the power of God’s word!

F. Trained for Godliness

vs 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.

Amplified Version puts it this way:

1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse and avoid irreverent legends (profane and impure and godless fictions, mere grandmothers’ tales) and silly myths, and express your disapproval of them. Train yourself toward godliness (piety), [keeping yourself spiritually fit].

Avoid anything that sidetracks you from training in Godliness. Avoid doing things just because someone says you should to be a good Christian. Do not follow myths or “old wive’s tales.”

My Granny watched over her granddaughters with great care. She taught us what ladies did and did not do. She had a network of neighbors and cousins watching our every move. Finally, she guarded our future fertility-or at least she thought she did. Granny taught us that if we lifted heavy things, we would “rupture ourselves” and be unable to have children.

Any time we were moving, she insisted that many hands make light work. No girl was to show off how strong she was by picking up a really heavy box. The men were supposed to move the heavy items. (Men were apparently not as prone to rupture?) When a friend’s teenage daughter picked up a television set and loaded it on a moving truck by herself, Granny shook her head while we cheered our friend for being so strong.

How do you train for godliness? Does it mean you wear a suit to church, stop going to movies, stop hanging around certain people, do this or that…No those are just outward cleansings, sometimes motivated by some tradition or old wives tale. Godliness is the presence of God in your life. Training for Godliness is exercising faith to see God daily, working on diligently seeking Him (because God rewards those who diligently seek Him-Hebrews 11:6).

Now, if changes in your habits and lifestyle occur because God brings it about, great! But don’t follow what amounts to “old wives tales” about how you should dress and act.

Godliness has value in every way – for today and for eternity.

  • 1 Timothy 4:9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.

G.  Hope set on the Living God

  • 1 Timothy 4:10 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.

Our goal is to be Godly, because our hope is set on the living God. Your hope is usually what drives you. You work hard and save so that one day you hope you can retire. You watch what you eat and exercise because you hope to stay healthy. A wives tale is that you go to church because you hope it gives you a better chance of heaven.

No, if we set our hope on God who lives, who rewards, who loves, who works in our lives, then we will train for godliness. We will be disciples. We will grow in Jesus Christ.

H. We command and teach these things.

  • vs 11: Command and teach these things.

The word for teach implies word of mouth instruction from one person to another. This is relational teaching and commanding. This is discipleship. This is one follower instructing another follower. We are to instruct our people these things.

I. Examples in speech, conduct, love, faith purity

  • vs 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

This is the heart of disciple-making. You don’t just instruct and command, but you demonstrate with your life. Your speech, your conduct, the way you love others, your faith, and your purity of heart and life. When you are making disciples, you spend time together. Your speech will reveal the state of your heart. What you talk about, what you don’t talk about.

Regardless of your age or knowledge or wisdom. When you train for godliness, you will demonstrate the example that God desires.

J. Disciple making requires devotion

  • vs 13:  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

K. Stir up your spiritual gift

  • vs 14:  Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

2 Timothy 1:6 6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

L. Immersed in Discipleship

  • vs 15: Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

M. Keep a close watch on each other and our teaching

  • vs 16: Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:

N. We will be overcomers.

  • vs 16b: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

So Should our Church be committed to being a Disciple-Making Church?

  • DO we owe it to Christ?
  • DO we want to reach Sinners with the Power of Christ for their lives?
  • DO we want Grace to overflow in our lives?
  • DO we want to be Overcomers?
  • Do we want to be spiritually FIT?
  • Do we want to know the power of Christ for our every-day lives?

[1] Oxford English Dictionary

[2] Walter B. Shurden,  The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishers, 1993)5.  Shurden arrived at these distinctives by studying historic documents such as denominational documents from the Northern, Southern, American and National Baptist Conventions, the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and a diversity of European Baptist groups as well as sermons and addresses given at meetings of the Baptist World Alliance from 1905 to 1980.

[3] Ibid, 24.


Who can be a Disciple-Maker? Why should we be a Disciple Making Church?

I want to ask you two questions, because these questions will be before us the next few weeks.

1.  “What is the difference between being a Christian and being a disciple?”

Is there a difference between a convert and a follower?

Is there a difference between a fan and a player?

  • One has seen, and another continually sees.
  • One has encountered, the other continually encounters.
  • The result is transformation. A follower becomes like the one he follows. A player becomes like his teammates (transformed by the coaches)

“We are not so much Christ followers as we are Christ admirers who happily listen to amazing stories about His life and His teachings, then go about our business without the principles imparted making an impact on who we are.”

2.  Why is Disciple-Making so Important?

  • Jesus told us to make disciples.
  • World Philosophy is overpowering.
  • People can be overcome in the wilderness.

Last week Ray looked at 1 Thess. 1. Pastor Ray told us about worldly philosophy that is so prevalent, and how the only way to rescue men from the world is not just to get them saved, but to intentionally make disciples.

Paul, Silas and Timothy were committed to making disciples. A simple belief was not enough to overcome the worldly philosophies that were bombarding the Thessalonians. Paul and his fellow workers realized they must invest time in the new converts to see them grow in Jesus Christ and be overcomers.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also with full conviction. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

The Thessalonians became friends with Paul, Silas and Timothy. Not just “sure is hot” “weather friends” but I am struggling with my faith because I’ve been out of work for a year kind of friends. Friends who are with each other in the trenches. Friends who pray together, who seek the Lord together. Friends who talk about problems with family together. Together, together, together. Discipleship is togethership.

George Barna states in his book, Growing True Disciples, “Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities. Stunningly few churches have a church of disciples”, (Barna 2001, 21).

  • 88% of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.
  • Approximately  2/3 of the members of Southern Baptist churches attend church only sporadically.
  • The average “evangelical” church in America wins 1.67 persons (less than 2) to Christ and their church each year for every 100 persons who attend that church.
  • 1/3  of church members state their greatest individual needs are not being met by their church.
  • Less than 50% of church members pray for 5 minutes at least twice a week.
  • Only 11% of church members have shared the gospel even once in the last year and 33% have never shared the gospel with anyone.
  • Most church leaders, when asked, cannot even define “Disciple”, and hardly any have been trained to “Make disciples”.[1]

“In a comprehensive study we conducted, we compared the beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of believers and non-believers…. We concluded that it is difficult for non-Christians to understand Christianity since few born again individuals model a biblical faith (Barna, 63).

The Church in America is failing to live up to its promise; we’re not even coming close to fulfilling it…. Believers are largely indistinguishable from non-believers in how they think and live … If we hope to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals and in the nation’s culture, then we must increase our intentionality, our intensity and improve our strategies” (Barna, 13).

“Discipleship does not happen simply because a church exists. It occurs when there is an intentional and strategic thrust to facilitate spiritual maturity” (Barna, 29).

“My most recent research, described in Maximum Faith, shows how the vast majority of American Christians have denied God His rightful place on the throne of their lives. Our default response, driven by cultural expectations and personal preferences, is to withhold control of our lives so that we, not God, can reign supreme – all under the cover of being “good and responsible Christians.” More often than not, we treat God as our religion consultant and turn to the Bible as an emergency reference book.

Most Americans point to their typical faith practices – e.g., church attendance, Christianeducation involvement, personal Bible study, daily prayer, freely donating money to ministries, participation in a small group, etc. – as evidence of personal piety.

In essence, the born-again community has invited God to reside in our hearts, accepting the special gift of love and forgiveness that He offered, along with His promise of eternal salvation. Sadly, once we felt certain that we had His gift securely in hand, we abandoned Him and have continued to operate by the standards and values of the world, searching for earthly treasures and pleasures. That is why the research has consistently shown over the past two decades that the lives of born-again Christians are essentially indistinguishable from those of people who do not claim Jesus Christ as their savior. We may be “religious” but we are not truly transformed by our faith in and relationship with God. Only a tiny proportion of born again adults get beyond their profession of faith to experience the more robust and significant life that is available through Christ to His followers.

A major reason why few Americans experience the richness of the Christian life is that we do not know what to do beyond reading and memorizing more Bible verses, attending church services more consistently, donating money to worthy causes, volunteering a few hours at church, and discussing our faith in Jesus with family and friends.

And unfortunately, my research reveals that a majority of believers who figure out where the journey goes, and what it takes to maximize the opportunity God grants us by completing the journey to wholeness, instead choose to settle for a less complete and fulfilling life.

Jesus’ Altar Call

Jesus’ altar calls were different. His view of what it meant to be saved was different from the modern church’s feeble definition. Jesus qualified the true heart of repentance by the test of discipleship.

The rich, young ruler ran and stopped Jesus in the street. He inquired, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The Lord responded by sharing one of His favorite sermons written by Moses.

The young man replied, “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus then raised the bar of discipleship: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor” (Mark 10:17–22). Scripture is clear, this young man walked away sad.

The rich, young ruler was willing to be a convert, but he was not willing to pay the cost of discipleship. He wanted a religion that was convenient for his lifestyle apart from the lordship of Christ. His desire for convenient religion left him where it leaves every insincere person — sad and despondent.

Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ. This kind of discipleship becomes nothing more than an abstract idea, a myth that has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as a living Lord and Master. Without real discipleship there is trust in God, but there is not a genuine following of Christ. Cheap grace is a deadly enemy of the church.

As we go forward with forming “GraceLife Community Church” I hope you will see the need to form a church whose culture and core is intentionally built upon relationships which are growing together in Jesus Christ. After all, that is discipleship.

1 Timothy 1:12-20 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 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. 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. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 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, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

A. Christ Values Faithfulness

  • 1 Tim 1:12-I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful

Christ doesn’t look for your leadership skills, or knowledge or athletic ability. God looks for one quality in disciple-makers-faithfulness.

  • What does faithfulness entail?
  1. Stick-to-itiveness
  2. Single eye
  3. Deep appreciation
  4. Common goal
  5. Not double-minded

B. Christ Appoints Sinners To Service

  • vs 12b-13 – appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief
1.  God’s mercy and grace transforms us with faith and love in Christ.

Why does God use sinners? He values broken vessels, so that the power is of Him. 

2.  God wants His grace to overflow from us to others.
  • vs 14 – and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus
3.  Grace always flows when we are emptied of self at the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27-30 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

C. Christ Desires to Save Sinners

  • vs 15, 16 – 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. 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.

Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem and wept as he saw thousands enslaved by sin, overcome by the world. He desired to gather her children up into his arms as a Mother Hen gathers her brood, but they would not come. So Christ saw that He could take fellow sinners, broken vessels, and use them to reach out to fellow sinners.

1.  Sinners are to be examples
2.  Patience and Endurance are on display in Discipleship

Not our patience or our endurance, but Christ’s. Christ endured to the bitter end for our sakes, and He runs alongside us in a marathon, not a sprint. His perfect patience is displayed when we come alongside other believers. His patience with us leads others to believe.

3.  Discipleship is based on transparent relationships rich in mercy.

D. Christ Desires Soldiers who Overcome

  • Vs 17,18 – To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 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, holding faith and a good conscience.

When one is overwhelmed by their sins, they realize they need a Savior.
When two admit they struggle with sin, they realize they need an Overcoming, Conquering King!

1.  Discipleship takes believers and leads them along three prioritized paths:
    1. The first priority is a growing commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ.
    2. The second priority is a growing commitment to the Body of Christ, your face-to-face group of disciples.
    3. The third priority is a growing commitment to the work of Christ in your world. 

These do grow on each other, but they also must be engaged at the same time. You need growth in all three to stay healthy in your Christian walk. You need growth in all three to overcome the world.

The disciple-making church operates with a specific definition of discipleship to Jesus.

Jesus defined disciples as those who forsook all to gain all of Him! We can dumb down discipleship, but we will get what we ask for. If we ask for small commitment, we will get small disciples. If we ask for sometimes commitment, we will get sometimes disciples. A true disciple maintains his or her relationship with Jesus Christ 24/7, 365 days a year. A true disciple follows the King of Kings!

2.  Discipleship Grows Overcomers
  • vs 18b that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience

Luke 11:21-22 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Is your life a contradiction to discipleship?

  • A disciple who does not grow, who does not have the purpose of growing, in their discipleship to Jesus is a contradiction in terms.
  • A stagnant or comfortable disciple is a contradiction.
  • A disciple who does not change and grow is a contradiction.
3.  Discipleship Does Not takes the Path of Least Resistance.

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

4.  Disciples will have authority when Christ reigns

Revelation 2:26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,

Revelation 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

E. Christ Desires to be our Helmsman

  • vs 19, 20 – By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Our life can be seen as a majestic ship sailing the oceans with its tall mast and sails filled with wind, gliding across the waves with the grace of its maker. Disciples sail the seas of life guided by the direction of our helmsman Jesus Christ. It is the trust and faith we have in him that allows our lives to be directed by His will.

Hymenaeus and Alexander followed Christ for awhile. For some reason, their faith faltered and they found themselves overcome by the waves of the world, and finally their lives were shipwrecked upon the rocks of the shore.

They rejected Jesus Christ as their guide and began to take control of their own lives. They cast the Lord “overboard” and took control of their own lives, steering as they willed. Sadly, their ship wrecked upon the shoals of this world.

Shipwrecks are caused by carelessness and indifference.  (Like the captain of the Cruise Ship that recently sunk) The seas of life are very treacherous, filled with hidden obstacles that can tear a hole in our hull. Only Christ can guide us safely through. Jesus knows every obstacle that will be in our path. The Lord knows what we need and He knows where we need to go. We worry about what is over the next horizon and how to survive the coming storms. Our hearts are filled with fear as the storms of life pound upon us and we cry out to the helmsman for relief. One who is a disciple has been trained in how to stay close to the Savior and interpret the signals He provides.

Hymenaeus and Alexander lost their faith. Their hearts were corrupted and they rejected God’s will and turned to their own desires. Paul declares in II Timothy 2:18 that Hymenaeus (and Philetus) “have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some” (II Tim 2:18 ). Their actions not only caused them to lose their souls but also impacted others whose faith was “upset.”

Should we be disciples? Most definitely. Can you be a Christian and refuse to be a disciple? I don’t see how.

Who can be a Disciple and a Disciple maker (they are one and the same)?

Any sinner who decides to be faithful to Christ and allow Him to lead his life, because you want to be an overcomer.

So Why Should a Church be committed to being a Disciple-Making Church?

  • Because we owe it to Christ.
  • Because it allows Sinners to reach other sinners
  • Because it allows Grace to overflow in our lives
  • Because it produces Overcomers
  • Because it keeps us ship-shape.
  • Because we will be drawn into the power of Christ for our every-day lives.

[1] (Barna 2001)


GraceLife is about Living Life in Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ.

It is not fairy dust sprinkled on you that turns you into a super-Christian. In fact GraceLife becomes the most powerful when we become broken vessels in the potters hand. GraceLife is all about taking human vessels and making them vessels of honor for the Glory of God.

As Steve McVey illustrates, GraceLife takes all of us and unites us with the Power of Jesus Christ. As Christ directs our life, the Holy Spirit must do some pruning, and God must do some disciplining. Life and circumstances happen, exposing cracks in our flesh. Don’t try to cover them up or dress them up, for God can use those weaknesses through the power of His grace!

Grace is the Power of God that continually transforms our lives as long as our hearts remain soft (humble) toward Him. Grace through Jesus Christ gives the New Covenant the Power that was missing in the Old Covenant. Hebrews 8:8 indicates the problem with the Old Covenant was the Jewish people themselves. Their hearts were of stone, and the Old Covenant provided no power to change those stony hearts. So the Law had no power to free the Jews from slavery to sin and fleshly desires.

Hebrews 8:7-10 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The New Covenant is empowered by Grace, Grace given at the Cross of Jesus Christ, Grace that gives us new hearts, soft hearts, upon which is written the Word of God, empowering us to live a life pleasing to God. GraceLife is applied to soft hearts and empowers us to live life in union with the Rule-Maker. In fact, Jesus unites with our soft hearts to live this life in His righteousness and power!

  • Is your heart soft toward Jesus Christ and His Word?
  • Are you having trouble believing that God can use your vessel for His glory?
Do you think your cracks are too wide or too deep?

Jesus loves our cracks, for they give Him an opportunity to work in our lives and show the power of His grace.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted (charitoo) [to pursue with grace, compass with favor; to honor with blessings].[1]in the beloved.

In charitóō there is not only the impartation of God’s grace, but also the adoption into God’s family in imparting special favor , to give grace, to remit, forgive. [2]

Jesus Christ pursues you with His grace, encompassing you with His favor and honoring you with His blessings, all because you are His brother/sister, adopted into God’s glorious family of saints.

Regardless of how ugly you think your life is, in Jesus Christ you are beautiful, you are handsome, you are a vessel of honor in His hands. It is time you open your heart and eyes in faith and see the power of Grace that is upon your life!

Don’t let your sin and failures keep you from realizing who you are to Jesus Christ.

Consider the testimony of Christian broadcasting and television personality, Greg Hennis. His show, Second Chances, can be heard on LiftFM 98.5 in New Jersey. He thought he had to hide his cracks until he discovered that Jesus can use them for His glory:

In the beginning of 2010 business was great. My business was doing well. God even opened a door to get my church on TV every Thursday night in prime time in over 2 million homes in the Philadelphia market with many people being saved and set free. But life was about to throw me another curve. In May, my largest customer began to bounce large checks and fall behind. Soon he owed us thousands. Next thing I know the state closed down his business. Then my former employer attempted to bring a personal law suit against me. What else could happen? Things were tough! My business was in debt and I had an angry ex employer trying to bring me down anyway he could for things that weren’t true. Finally, after weighing my options, I realized the only way to get myself out of this financial mess and was to declare personal bankruptcy.

It was a hard thing to decide. I had a great credit score and never had a late payment on my credit report. But I knew what had to be done. In early 2011 it became public knowledge that it was filed. My former employer learned there’d be no suit due to the bankruptcy and he was angry. He began notifying broadcast outlets who did business with me, customers, and anyone who would listen that I had personally filed. He always gave the impression it was his business to try to hurt me.

Not only did I have all this stress, but I had to start calling all my customers and business contacts and tell them myself. Very Humbling. After the first few it got easier and then in February, I was doing an interview on my Christian radio show, “Second Chances”, and the guest said something that made it all seem worthwhile. She said the things in life that we try to hide are the things that God wants us to share to be a blessing and help to others. Since then I haven’t stopped encouraging people by sharing what I just shared with you. They all say the same thing, “WOW, God Is Good.”

And I say to that, “Yes he is.”

What my ex employer doesn’t know is that because of God’s love for us, he gives us the strength to forgive. I have forgiven him and even feel pity for him dealing with the bitterness he has. I hope God’s love will one day heal him. (More is at this link)

GraceLife brings Honor to your vessel. You become a quality vessel not because you look good on the outside, not because you appear to be holy and righteous, but because Jesus is  inside your vessel, multiplying His grace in your life.

We are not talking about how “good” you appear on the outside. We are not talking about how many titles or positions you hold at church. We are talking about whether the Grace of God is actively working in your broken vessel or not. Grace is never passive, but actively pursues us for the pleasure of God.

It is not up to us to prove ourselves worthy of His grace. In fact, there is nothing we can do in our flesh to be more “worthy” of anything. As Hanna Dagenhart writes in “Geckos Are Ceremonially Unclean…It’s Biblical”:

Don’t ever believe that you must try to change yourself to somehow be more worthy of Christ.  For one, He’s seen worse – Paul was the worst of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).  Secondly, you can’t do it.  Even God’s chosen people rebelled and fell away on countless occasions.  Look at Israel in Isaiah… “Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.  The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it” (Isa. 3:8-9).  These were the people God had called out for His own; they were the ones who were filthy and unclean, lost in their sin.  Later the Lord tells them,In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” (Isa. 30:15) Still, he pursues them!  “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isa. 30:18).

Are you surrendered to the Potter’s hand? Or are you standing proud in your own self-confidence and resistant to His work in your life? Are you bearing up under the circumstances He has you in, or are you running away to an easier place. Is your heart still soft toward Him, or have you allowed it to harden because of the way you have responded to His touch on your life?

Are you zealous for God and His Word, or are you apathetic and uninterested? Are you praying for the lost around you, open to the hurting around you, or are you content with your own needs being met?

If you are apathetic, ignorant, content, self-centered and unconcerned, you are a vessel that is of no use to the potter, so you are a vessel unto dishonor. You have resisted God’s grace, and your heart has become hard. Your heart has been given over to bitterness, resentment, wrong values, lusts, and even worldly desires. These all harden your heart and block the power of God’s grace.

Vessels unto honor have soft hearts, broken hearts, sensitive to the Word and the Holy Spirit. Vessels unto honor realize their own brokenness, so they don’t judge others or condemn others, but administer Grace to all those around them. Vessels unto honor are there for the lost and hurting around them. God never makes a vessel for self-service. We are to benefit each other. Just as Greg Hennis realized.

Profile of GRACELIFE
How can GraceLife produce vessels of honor from broken vessels? How can GraceLife produce a church of honor, from a church that is broken?

Let’s begin to build a profile of GraceLife. This morning we will look at the “what” of Grace. What does it do for us, and so how will a GraceLife Church appear to an outside observer?

Understand first of all that Grace is not some passive gift that occasionally impacts your life. Grace is not a beautiful sunset, or a peaceful walk on a beautiful cool morning.  Nor is it a force that suddenly falls upon you as you sit in your easy chair and contemplate life! Grace is an active force that never, never leaves you the same! Grace is the very hand of God nudging you to do His good pleasure.

Paul Defines Grace as God’s Active Pursuit of us through which God does Three Things:

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

  1. Grace works in us the DESIRE for God’s Will
  2. Grace works in us the ability to DO God’s Will
  3. Grace works to ACCOMPLISH God’s pleasure.

“We cannot of ourselves embrace the Gospel of grace:” [2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God]

“The will” comes solely of God’s gift to whom He will [John 6:65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father”]; so also the power “to do” (rather, “to work effectually, energizing”)

Our will does nothing thereunto without grace; but grace is inactive without our will” [ST. BERNARD]. Man is, in different senses, entirely active, and entirely passive: God producing all, and we acting all. What He produced is our own acts. It is not that God does some, and we the rest. God does all, and we do all. “FOR His good pleasure”; in order to carry out His sovereign gracious purpose towards you Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,.[3]

What Does Grace Do?

Since Grace works to accomplish the pleasure of God, we should know what God delights in. Jeremiah offers three things that God works at because He delights in them:

Jeremiah 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Since Grace accomplishes the pleasure of God, and the pleasure of God is in working loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, we can rest assured that God’s Grace works in our lives to accomplish what God takes pleasure in. So let’s build a profile of GraceLife, and see where we individually and corporately might be resisting God’s Grace.

Grace Accomplishes God’s Mercy and Steadfast Love (Hesed)

חֶסֶד‎ HESED

Hesed is the active force of God whereby he actively seeks to come to the aid of those with whom He has established a relationship. He displays His strength in showing mercy and loving kindness in a steadfast way. His love and mercy never fail because it is impossible for God to be weakened to the point of failure. (Unfailing Love)  

This word is used 240 times in the Old Testament, and is especially frequent in the Psalms. Is that any surprise since the Psalms were written by a man after God’s Heart.

Hesed has three components working together: “strength”, “steadfastness”, and “love”. Take one away and His hesed is not complete. Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness.

Ḥesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.

Marital love is often related to hesed. The prophet Hosea applies the analogy to Yahweh’s hesed to Israel within the covenant (e.g., Hosea 2:21). Hence, “devotion” is sometimes the single English word best capable of capturing the nuance of the original. The RSV attempts to bring this out by its translation, “steadfast love”.[4]

However, ḥesed is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. Hesed describes God’s devotion to those He has a relationship with. It is an active, seeking love that is based upon strength and resolve. It is devotion of the heart. Hesed comes from the very heart of God! It is His desire for His people!

Hesed is the Active force of God whereby he actively seeks to come to the aid of those whom He has established a relationship. He displays His strength in showing mercy and loving-kindness in a steadfast way. His love and mercy never fail because it is impossible for God to be weakened to the point of failure. (Jim Tompkins)

  • Brings Men to repentance

Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

  • Imparts Faith to Believe

Acts 18:27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

  • Brings Salvation to Sinful Man

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

WE ARE SAINTS (63 tines this is declared in the New Testament)

  • Gives us all Christ’s riches and full acceptance.

2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

  • Gives Good Things

Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

  • Increases Thanksgiving

2 Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

  • Brings Abundance of faith and love

1 Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Grace Accomplishes God’s Design of His Justice in our Lives (mishpat).

‏מִשְׁפָּט‎ mishpāṭ

Mishpat is God’s Kingdom design in place within man through the reign of Christ in our hearts. His Kingdom design must grow to encompass our life, our family, our church –  our ‘House’. (Justice)

Mishpat begins in the external and transforms the internal (Describes the design and function of the Tabernacle)

God has a Kingdom in His heart, a kingdom of justice, of order, a kingdom that is at work in heaven and his desire is for it to be so on earth.

The Tabernacle was an earthly type of the Justice that God seeks on the earth. (Exodus 26:30; 1 Kings 6:38; and Ezekiel 42:11 this word is used in reference to the design of the tabernacle, the temple of Solomon, and the future temple prophesied by Ezekiel, respectively. Significantly, in all these passages it refers to the design or arrangement of God’s dwelling place.)

When His Son came to earth, He did what was necessary to empower this justice on earth. One day He will claim this inheritance and establish God’s Justice on earth. Until that day, we as His children, have an earthly tabernacle in which the Holy Spirit dwells. God can establish His justice in our lives. His Son can reign in our hearts and everywhere our foot trods. Mishpāṭ, as justice, i.e. rightness rooted in God’s character, ought to be an attribute of man in general and of judicial process among them (Psalm 106:37).

Mishpat expresses the nature of God and the demands of God. He desires His mishpat to reign on earth, and to reign in the hearts of mankind. His mishpat is what condemns us; His mishpat is what Jesus Christ satisfied upon the Cross. When God’s mishpat reigns in your heart through faith in Jesus Christ, you stand before God uncondemned. You have standing before God. You have the very ear of God because you delight in the mishpat of Jesus Christ!

The Grace of Jesus Christ works to accomplish God’s Justice in your life, no matter how cracked your vessel may be. Here is how Grace accomplishes God’s justice in our lives:

  • Made a Partaker of Christ

1 Corinthians 10:30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

  • Justified

Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We are declared Holy! God re-members our sins no more. He doesn’t take them up again and allow them to hurt Him. They are in a bag slung behind Him and dropped in the deepest part of the ocean where they lay as far as the East is from the West. This is true not only at our ‘new birth’, but true the rest of our earthly life with Jesus Christ. Our sins past, present and future were forgiven at the Cross. Our daily cleansing only thanks Christ for our forgiveness and reestablishes our dependence upon Him for our life.

  • Overcome Sin

Romans 5:20-21 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • Gives strength and growth

2 Timothy 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

  • Help in times of need

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

  • Provides Stability

Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

  • Inspires Singing and Songs in our Hearts

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

A young lady started attending the church I pastored in Edgerton, KS. It wasn’t long before I learned she was in a bitter divorce and custody battle with her estranged husband. He had succeeded in turning her former pastor and congregation against her. She shared how she sang on the praise team. I encouraged her to sing at our church, but I could see that she had lost her “song” for the Lord because of the struggles she was facing. I told her she was welcome at our church, even though her ex-pastor told me I should not let her worship at our church. Together we looked at the Scriptures, and God’s Word opened up God’s wonderful grace to her broken life. Within eight months she came to me and said she felt like singing. Oh what a wonderful voice she had. Her songs were powerful and life-giving, because they came from a broken vessel transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ.

Have you really messed up? Is your vessel pretty broken up and useless? Do not despair, do not be cast down. Jesus can take the broken pieces of your life and make them honorable, useful and beautiful. He will give you a Song in your heart, the song of the matchless grace of Jesus!


[1] J. H. Thayer, trans., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889), s.v. “,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 1471.

[3] Jamieson, Robert, Fausset A.R. and Brown, David; 1871,The Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.