[audioplayer file=”http://thegatheringcommunity.in/wp-content/uploads/saju-new-message-2.mp3″]

Good Morning

We’re doing a series called “God Alive Church – a journey through 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus” and last Sunday Jinson preached on the topic “The call to serve faithfully” from 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (Read and Listen)  and helped us understand the role and qualifications of a Deacon.

What really stands out from that passage is for all of us to remember that we all are called to serve the church, serve one another, the bride of Christ. Whether you are an ordained elder/deacon or not, you are called to serve. And you don’t have to be the most gifted person, all God desires is a willing heart and a humble attitude.

The call to become a deacon/elder will come as you faithfully serve him in the small things God has gifted you with. It doesn’t happen overnight, it didn’t happen overnight for Jinson and me. God took us through a time of testing and mending of our hearts before calling us to ministry.

And our ministry is not separate from our daily routine life, we both have full time jobs just like everyone of you. It is not easy for us to take out the extra time from our schedule to prepare sermons and serve you in the measure in which God has called us to. There are sacrifices we have to make to serve Christ and do his work.

The reason I mention that is to let you know that if we both can do it, even you can do it. All you need to be is faithful to the call of God in your lives. I can testify and tell you that your greatest fulfilment will not come from serving your self, family, company, business your money. Your greatest fulfilment will come when you identity the purpose of your life which God gave you, trust in him, serve him and live for his Glory.

So, our passage for today is 1 Timothy 3:14-16. If you have your bibles let’s turn to our passage read it together.

As we know that Paul’s intention to write this letter to the church was to address specific issues that were ungodly and leading people astray.

The flow of Paul’s letter so far in chapters 1, 2 & 3 looks like this

.. he starts his letter by opposing false teachers and false preaching of the Gospel (1:3-11)

.. explains the true gospel of Christ and gives right understanding of the Law (1:12-17)

.. In 1:18-20 he encourages Timothy to hold on to his faith and fight the good fight of faith as he continues to lead the church along with other elders

.. In 2:1-7 he ask the church to pray and gives them specific instructions on prayer

.. 2:8-15 gives instructions on how men and women needs to conduct themselves in the church

.. 3:1-13 lays down the qualifications of Elders and deacons

And in the later part of the letter from chapter 4 onwards Paul then goes on to give specific instructions for ministry, supporting widows, honouring masters, how to encourage one another, how to fight the good fight, instructions to the rich, guarding the truth .. so on and so forth.

Looking at this overview of the letter we understand that the context of this letter is mainly Church discipline. And I believe today’s passage i.e 1 Timothy 3:14-16 Paul is talking about a very important piece that needs to be understood and treasured for us to get a clearer picture of the need for Church discipline.

v.14 – I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God (how one to conduct yourself in the household of God) which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

Paul is urging the people to be disciplined, well behaved and conduct themselves in godliness pointing to the fact that it is the Church of the living God – The pillar and foundation of TRUTH that is at stake.

Then in verse 15 he goes on to say

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angles,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory”

Paul points us back to Christ and the Gospel. And I believe that this is that important piece in Paul’s letter that we need to understand and treasure even as he gives various instructions and disciplinary actions to the church.

This piece or passage is like the cornerstone that forms the base of a corner of a building which holds the whole building together, if the cornerstone is moved or taken out the whole building can collapse. In the same way what holds the church together is Christ and his finished work on the cross.

It is not traditions, good ideas, organizational structures, etc. It is Christ and the Gospel truth which if taken away can destroy the church and make it even worse to the point that the world around us start hating us.

Mahatma Gandhi, the great freedom fighter once said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Imagine the impact we would have had on this nation if this one man had the right perspective of church.

Taking about church discipline Jonathan Leeman in his book “Church Discipline” makes an interesting comment. He says.

Church discipline can be explained in two ways. One can describe it as the act of correcting sin, like blowing a whistle against a foul in a Christian life. Or, better, one can try to understand the act of blowing the whistle within the larger framework of the Gospel, the church and the purposes of Christian life. Placing the act of discipline into this larger theological framework – what I’m calling a gospel framework – will help us exercise the discernment that is inevitably required amidst the many circumstances of sin in a church.

With that in mind I will be answering 3 important questions today.. and that is

1. What is the Gospel?
2. What is Church?
3. What is Gospel Centered Church Discipline?

What is the Gospel?

Going back to our passage in verse 16 where Paul writes

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness

He was manifested in the flesh,

Christ manifested in the flesh” is the doctrine about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came down to earth and put on flesh and blood like us.

When God made Adam and Eve he expected them to fully trust HIS word and HIS work, but instead they trusted in the word and the work of the devil. As flesh and blood they failed to obey God because of which the entire human race is suffering from sin and death.

Jesus came in flesh and blood and lived a perfect and holy life just as it was expected of Adam and Eve. He became as vulnerable as we are and yet chose not to sin.

Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Vindicated by the Spirit,

vindicate means to clear someone of blame or suspicion

Paul is pointing to the incident when Jesus was baptised by John. In Matthew 3:16-17 it says

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was publicly vindicated by the spirit to be blameless and holy. He was publicly declared blameless by God himself.

seen by angles,

Unlike other passages that talk about Jesus and his life on earth which only gives an earthly account of what was seen and experienced with naked eyes like ‘Jesus born of a virgin’, ‘Died on the cross’ & ‘Rose up from the dead’. Paul in this passage gives us a supernatural perspective of what happened when Jesus was crucified for our sins and transgressions.

He is saying that the angels were watching Him.

Imagine the angels and whole of creation standing still and watching their creator die a horrible death, the one which he never deserved. Matthew 27:51 says “At that moment (when Jesus died on the cross) the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split

The pain of watching creator God die was unimaginable, more so in the heavenly realms because as humans we were and we are still hard hearted, arrogant and self centered creatures who still even till date fail to understand what it means for God himself to die for sake of his creation.

To say Jesus died on the cross can’t be said in a casual way but has be said and remembered with true conviction in our heart, with trembling and reverence in our hearts.

He paid the penalty of sin and declared us righteous before God, so God can now embrace us and accept us into his kingdom.

Let me give you an example though a wired one to explain what that means

Imagine a young boy from a rich family falling in love with a girl from the slums, a girl whose family lived on the streets, ate food from the garbage cans, wore torn clothes, spoke indecent language.

His father been a rich business tycoon can never ever accept or even imagine this kind of a girl to be part of his family, not just because of the financial status but also because of the ugliness around her.

Now, The boy loves the girl so much that he decides to leave his father wealth and lifestyle to now come and live with her in the slums, go hungry with her, wear the same old clothes for months, become vulnerable as the girl and her family.

But now even with all those vulnerabilities around him.. instead of giving in to those vulnerabilities and stay that way .. the boy pursues a good life, works hard, and accumulates wealth on behalf of that girl and her family, teaches them good mannerisms and lifts them up to the point where he is now able to present her before his Father and say here she is .. this is the girl I want to marry.”

Jesus is our price who left all his glory in heaven and came down for us to present us holy and blameless before the Father, one without spot or even a wrinkle. (Ephesians 5:27)

proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world,

We’re not talking about a human figure who’s name faded away in history but we are talking about a name that has gained popularity even to this day. He is not like one of those celebrities whose life people celebrated while they were alive and forgotten after they died.

In fact Jesus gained more popularity after his death. Not ONLY because of the event of his death and resurrection but because of his transforming work in the lives of people like us even to this day.

taken up in glory”

Jesus defeated sin and death, he defeated the power of sin over lives, he broke every stronghold that held us captive and on the third day he rose again from the dead.

He is now sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, praying for us that we all come to the knowledge of who he is and a live that glorifies him.

In the light of this Gospel (next question) What is the Church?

The church is the to-be bride of Jesus Christ for whom he died and gave his life as a ransom. Just as the whole creation and the angels watched him die for his bride they are anticipating the day of our marriage as well.

Revelation 19:7-9“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Church is the body of Christ who are called to look after one another so we are prepared for the big day just like the wise virgins mentioned in Matthew 25 who were awake, ready and prepared to respond to the call of the bridegroom.

And it is for this purpose that God has placed Elders in authority within the church body to correct, rebuke, counsel and discipline the body of Christ. Not that the elders are superior in any way but we are under shepherds serving Christ.

And therefore Gospel centered Church discipline is one that

i. aims to help the body of Christ enjoy and experience the transforming work for which Christ died and sent His Spirit as a helpmate.

The new covenant promises that Christ’s people will live a transformed lives through the power of the Spirit. Even if change comes slowly, churches should expect change – the visible fruit of God’s grace and Spirit. Discipline is the right response to a lack of visible fruit, or, even more, the presence of bad fruit.

ii. aims to help the church represent Christ to the world.

Christians are to be little Christs, representing Jesus on earth.

And in a world where we are constantly bombarded with distraction in the form of visuals, ideas, desire for wealth, desire for comfort, etc which makes it even more difficult for us to represent Christ. Discipline is the right response when Christians fail to represent Jesus and show no desire for doing so.

iii. aims to establish God given authority within the local church.

Like I said the Elders are not appointed to bully and show superiority over people. We are not what some people say we are that Church exists to manipulate people and make their leaders rich, though there are churches that exists for that purpose.

In fact Jinson and I have made a deliberate choice not to take financial benefits for the ministry work we do as long as our job and business can supply our needs, except for the some additional expenses like our travelling and eating while doing ministry all the offering money is utilized to cover the church expenses and used reach the lost in the city.

We have all rights to take a salary for our labor but here’s what I want you to know. We are here and doing what we are doing is because God has placed us as Elders as authorities over you to look after your soul and your spiritual well-being.

Which means if you receive a call from one of us or even from our wives asking questions about life – I want you to remember that we are not doing this to gossip about you or even try to interfere in your personal lives. We are doing it because we genuinely love you and want to understand from you the areas of your struggle so we can speak the gospel truth into your situation, help you experience the transforming work of Christ and represent Christ to the dying world around us.

In the light of what we heard today what should be our response, what does a practical application looks like?

The practical application is

Hebrews 13:17

“Have confidence, obey your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this verse, its plain and simple.

“Have confidence, obey your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

Lets pray!

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