So last October 7, unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard about the fact that there was a podcaster by the name of Joyce Trivino who became viral for her answer to a question that was asked of her during one of her podcasts, entitled “Unpacking Christianity.” So the question that was asked to her was can a non-believer go to heaven? And of course she answered that Scriptures teach Christ as being the only way, the only truth, and the only source of life so unless someone is in Christ, they will not be able to gain entry to heaven. Now her response became viral because her answer went against of course the prevailing wisdom held by our present relativistic and pluralistic worldview who see merely dying as a good enough person, as a good enough reason for someon to end up in Paradise. Or that you can be moral and good, without adhering to a religion and believing in God and that would still merit a good life in the afterlife so to speak.
Now I opened with this story because her response during that interview, and her subsequent responses when the attacks started coming against her from different sectors of society. It shows us someone whose conduct and character exemplified what the Apostle Paul refers to in our passage today as the attributes that a faithful servant of the Lord is supposed to have. Brothers and sister, please open your Bibles with me to 2nd Timothy chapter 2 verses 22 to 26, as we discuss our message for today entitled, Marks of the Lord’s Servant. So once again, 2nd Timothy chapter 2 verses 22 to 26. Hear now the words of our true and living God.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. May the Lord add blessing to the reading of His word.
So this morning, we are finishing chapter 2 of Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy. And our passage which concludes this section of the letter started from verse 14, with Paul reminding Timothy to make sure that he and other fellow elders or preachers of the word, as servants of the Lord must remain focused on the task at hand. And what is the task? It is to faithfully teach the Word and to feed the flock with the view of strengthening unity and edification in the local church. And you can sense in Paul’s tone, that ther is urgency in it. And that is why Timothy and others like him have no time to engage in godless chatter which like a contagious disease, if not cut off from the rest of the body, only breeds more godless chatter. Paul actully describes Godless chatter as a “gangrene.” So it is not merely unhelpful to the church, but it actually produces more rot if left unchecked or if not cut-off right away from its source. It promotes unhealthiness in the local assembly, it fractures its unity and hinders its growth in the faith. And if the goal is unity and mutual edification, and if the goal is to stir each other to greater Christlikeness, then godless chatter brings about the opposite because it promotes division. And who brings this
godless chatter? They’re identified as false brethren or the false wolves. Even so, even in the face of opposition and false brethren and even wolves, there is great encouragement for Timothy and other faithful servants of the Lord. Why? Because verse 19 tells us, because God knows who are His and because our God is sovereign, nothing or no one can destroy what God Himself has established. God’s firm foundation always stands.
In the next section Paul makes an analogy of a large house which is filled with different vessels for different purposes. Gold and silver, and wood and clay. The difference in material denotes the differences in usage, and the valuable material like gold and silver denote vessels for honorable use, while those of a plain material like wood and clay for dishonorable use. And Paul’s charge is of course as faithful servants Timothy must seek to be an honorable vessel, to be worthy of the good work by the master. Now, of course you’ve read the bible at any length of time, I’m sure you’ve also encountered a similar passage pertaining to vessels of honor and dishonor. That is of course found in. Romans 9. We must make a distinction though, that Paul is saying in Timothy is not the same as what Paul is saying in Romans 9. In Romans 9, Paul makes the case that God in being sovereign makes one vessel for a special purpose and another for a common purpose, based on no merit of the person, but solely on the basis of God’s free and sovereign will. In the text in Timothy, the opportunity to be used or not used of God is somehow based on our actions. That all believers can be used of God, but that the extent of how much God will be able to make use of us, is in a way related to our character and conduct. So, then the question is, what are the qualities of the people God uses greatly? What are the marks of the faithful servant that God greatly makes use of? And this is where our passage for today comes in.
After providing the groundwork by talking about the principles of what it means to be a workman that is approved by God, Paul then gives specific imperatives to Timothy that can serve as a gauge for Timothy to know his fittedness to the role of an honorable servant of God. Paul actually gives 8 imperatives that we can further distill the two principles. And what are those imperatives? So number one, Paul commands Timothy, flee youthful passions. In other translations, it says flee youthful lusts or flee youthful tendencies or desires. Second, pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.
Third, have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies. In other translations it says refuse foolish speculations. The fourth imperative, don’t be quarrelsome. Fifth, Be kind to everyone. Sixth, you must be able to teach. So Timothy must be able to cultivate the gift of preaching and teaching, and to be able to do so both in public as well as in private. Seventh, Timothy is to be patient and endure evil. And lastly, Timothy must be able to correct with gentleness.
Looking at these 8 commands from Paul, we can group them to 2 general categories or principles, The first category having to do with one’s conduct or character, and the second regarding one’s speech or conversations. Which brings us to our simple message for this morning. And our message is this: The Lord’s servants are marked by their consecrated conduct and conversations. So once again, the Lord’s servants are marked by their consecrated conduct and conversations.
Ang mga Lingkod ng Panginoon ay markado ng kanilang sagradong pag-uugali at paraan ng pakikipag-usap.
And we will be unpacking this message further in 2 points. As the Apostle Paul is giving specific instructions. So he gives two general principles divided in eight imperatives. The first one being CONSECRATED CONDUCT which is of course everything to do with the man of God’s character and conduct on and off the pulpit. And the second is of course connected to the first: CONSECRATED CONVERSATIONS. Talking about the Apostle Paul’s expectations as to Timothy’s speech and way of conversing, again, on and off the pulpit. So let us begin! Paul commands Timothy to flee youthful passions and controversies and instead pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace and purity.
Now, right off the bat, this has to be said. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being young. Being young does not automatically equate to being wrong and the Apostle Paul does not advocate such a view. If Paul had something against youth per se, he would be guilty of ageism. Ageism refers to the prejudices, assumptions, and stereotypes we have for or against others simply by virtue of their age or lack of it. Hindi ho ganoon si Paul. Hindi nya ho tinitignan yung kabataan o katandaan ng tao, tapos magkakaroon ho siya ng assessment doon sa tao just based solely on the age of the person. Having said that, there really are certain things, behaviors, passions, lusts, and desires that the youth may have that may be tempered by maturity and old age, okay. What the youth have, they have boundless energy, they have deep passions but that could also be accompanied by immaturity in terms of reigning themselves in and that’s just a relality of being young. But what specifically is Paul referring to when he talks about fleeing from youthful passions? Now obviously, if not everything is bad about being young, then what is Paul against? Or what is Paul warning Timothy against? It may refer to desires for power. As Timothy is an elder who is younger than some of the flock, the desire to be the one to be listened to may trump the gentleness of manner that must characterize answering opponents. Iyong kagustuhan mo na maging tama ka palagi, that could ba a bad way of showing youthful passion. It may lead to a sense of arrogance or abusive behavior. Someone with a lust for power may become dismissive of those people he does not agree with, and may bully those whom he doesn’t see eye to eye. Pwede hong mangyari iyon. Lalo na if nasa posisyon ng authority iyong isang tao. It will be a dangerous combination to have both leadership and abusive behavior. Hence the warning to flee from it. The desire for power may manifest in a lack of control and manifestations of anger. If we answer in a harsh way even though we may be correct our response will be lost in translation because of the other person’s aversion to our abrasive or volatile behavior. Hindi ho ba? Pwede naman hong tama iyong sinasabi ho natin. Pero kung naunahan na tayo ng galit o kaya ng inis, or ng pagiging superyor, hindi na ho tayo mapapakinggan ng mga taong pinagsasabihan natin or kinakausap ho natin. It may also refer to lust for pleasure, and not just for sex, but for other pleasurable things in this world that grant temporary joys. Hindi naman ho lahat nang mga ine- enjoy natin ay makasalanan eh. Playing video games may not be outright sinful but most things we can enjoy in moderation, whether it is drinking, partying, eating, playing with games, when taken to extremes can become an obsession or addiction that will be detrimental to us. Anything that becomes our master, that becomes something that controls us is an idol and must be mortified of. And so the warning applies: Flee from that youthful passion.
One other manifestation of an unhealthy passion is something I call GAS. Ano itong GAS? Gadget Acquisition Syndrome. It’s the desire to always have the latest and greatest gadgets, the best vacations, the nicest cars, the most fashionable clothes, or the newest upgrades to your hobbies. Whether that’s running, biking, or kung anuman, okay. Again, it’s dangerous because it does not cultivate contentment but rather feeds our tendencies to want more and to get it right away, sometimes even when the want may be an unwise purchase at the time. We always tell ourselves this: investment ‘to heh, magamit ko ito..di ba?..for my health.” Now, I’m not saying hobbies are bad per se. But, again, if contentment is not that grips you, you become greedy for the latest and greatest, then that maybe an unhealthy youthful desire. And Paul’s simple advice is this: FLEE FROM SUCH THINGS. There is no cause to tempt yourself by telling yourself you will see how long you can last before your passions overtake you. There is no wisdom in doing that. Meron lang talagang mga bagay, it’s wiser, takbuhan mo na lang. Hindi yung mag s-stay ka, tapos sabihin mo sa sarili mo: “hindi, by God’s grace, kakayanin ko ito.” Hindi…bibigay at bibigay ka.
Bakit? Kasi nga it’s something that appeals to you. Hindi naman tayo mahuhulog sa mga bagay na iyon kung hindi siya kaaya- aya sa atin. But Paul’s wise counsel does not stop there. What do you do when you are running away from something to be doubly productive about it? Then you, as you run away from something, you run towards something else that would be helpful to you. Paul, and Paul’s advice is not to allow Timothy’s youthful impulses to take control of him and run away with him, because it has no place in ministry, but that rather, as Timothy flees from youthful desires, he must actively pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.
And the fact that Paul highlights these specific characteristics, it means that Paul acknowledges that these are the specific virtues one needs and that these views would be most effective against combating the youthful desires, the unhealthy youthful desires that he warns Timothy against. How will righteousness counter youthful impulses? If Timothy is filled with the Spirit then for times when he is wronged by people he will not fly off the handle and respond in anger, but he will be able to respond graciously and in a gentle manner that prevents things from needlessly escalating. If Timothy has faith that God is Provider he will have no cause to lust after material things or pleasures, knowing that God Himself is the source and giver of superior and lasting Joy. Contentment will guard his heart from a desire to keep acquiring things. Love, being the grace that is opposite the vice of lust will temper his youthful impulses and will lead him to purity. He will keep himself pure in speech and in conduct. And that life, a life lived in purity in pursuit of holiness will show the reality of the professed faith of the servant of the Lord.
One thing also worth noting about the virtue list Paul charges Timothy to pursue is that it is the proof of someone who is a True follower of Christ, a disciple and follower of Jesus.
Righteousness, faith, love and peace are the results of salvation and the fruit of sanctification. To be righteousness is to be declared in right standing with God, a judicial stance that is only applicable to someone who is in Christ, the one who is our righteousness. Faith is defined as full trust and belief in Jesus the Lord and Savior, the only mediator between God and man. Proof of someone who is being sanctified and being prepared for every good work. Love is defined as seeking the wellbeing of others and is geared towards everyone else, a mark of someone who genuinely has affection and goodwill and good actions towards others. And of course peace is not merely the lack of conflict or turmoil but the state of being at peace with the Creator. And all of these things taken together would prove that someone is truly who they profess to be. That if they say they are servants of God, that they’re followers of Christ, then their conduct would show the truthfulness of their statements. For while the world is on a quest to acquire things, a faithful servant of the Lord will be on a quest not for things, but for the salvation of the people around Him. Kung mahal mo ang Diyos, mamahalin mo yung mga tao, lalung-lalo na iyung mga taong hindi nakakakilala sa Diyos. Dahil alam mo iyong buhay nila walang patutunguhan kung wala si Kristo.
While the world seeks to look out for number one, and while the world is on a quest not to let anyone or anything look down on them, a faithful servant of the Lord will humbly allow themselves to be wronged, even turning the other cheek, patiently enduring evil, knowing that they are called not to show themselves superior to anyone, but to allow themselves to suffer humiliation and even suffering, to be as Paul said in another passage, all things to all men so that they may save some.
And while the world will tell us that life is all about the pursuit of happiness, and that happiness can be anything and everything even if it is sinful according to the bible, just as long as you are happy, it’s okay to pursue it, the faithful servant of the Lord on the other hand is all about what brings a smile to the face of my Master, and is laser-focused on making sure that all he does is as commanded by the Lord, that He will be called a good and faithful servant. So brethren, the first challenge for us this morning is this: We ought to examine ourselves for unruly passions and if we find and discover those things in our lives,
we must mortify those things in God’s grace. This is important especially for reforming believers, because as we discover more about God, an equally important about something called the doctrines of grace, there maybe an unfortunate case of youthful passions overtaking wisdom. And we have a term for it, we call it cage-stage believers. Someone who is so full of passions but with not enough sobriety, that their passions will cause them to fight with everyone just because they’ve discovered what they believe to be the most biblical view on salvation. Di ba? Iyung kakalabanin mo na lahat pati iyung mga brethren mo para lang ma-prove tama ka…”hindi, talaga..sovereign talaga si God, di ba? There’s no such thing as free will, libertarian free will. We are all slaves of our desires and those desires are bent towards our sinfulness..” Totoo naman po ang mga bagay po na iyon.
However, when you find yourself cage-staged, that’s the time more than ever, that you need to find yourself in a local church family and get conversing with like-faith believers. They will be the ones that you can discourse with as you outgrow that state.
Ma-outgrow mo naman yan eh.Pero habang init ka pa, habang gusto mo pang kausapin lahat, okay, kausapin mo muna iyung brethren mo about it. Tignan mo yung buhay nila kasi if they are mature, then makikita mo how they navigate these things well.
They will guide you and help disciple you so that when you outgrow and mature that phase, you will be an honorable vessel of the Lord, ready for every good work. The local church will be there to help you sand down any abrasive behavior you may have so you may be of more use to the Lord. Okay. So if you find yourself cage stage about anything. Not just about soteriology but about any other topics under theology, hanap ka ng kausap sa church. Meron at meron gustong kumausap sa iyo. D ba? Tsaka nakaka-edify pa iyon. Hindi ka na nakaka turn-off ng mga tao, mapapag-usapan ninyo pa yung pananampalataya sa mga taong pareho ng paniniwala sa iyo. And that would be a great encouragement to anyone. Who knows, di ba? Baka yung passion mo na iyon, maging contagious pa at mas lalong mag- alab yung ibang tao para sa Diyos dahil sa ehemplo mo.
The example of the life of martyrs are the appropriate reminder for us of what a Consecrated Conduct of life looks like. One of the earliest if not the earliest account of martyrdom outside of Scriptures is the story of the Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp.
Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John, and as a bishop was highly revered and respected in their region. So iyung Smyrna po, iyan po ang modern day Izmir sa Turkey. So nung panahon po nila, yung bishop po nilawas Polycarp. And there came a time that Christians were persecuted by the Romans, and of course in the course of time, Polycarp was arrested and brought before the authorities. When he was infront of the Proconsul, he was charged to reproach Christ, or deny Christ, that he may be set free. Pero nakakatuwa ho ano? Ang tanda- tanda na ho niya pero sumagot ho siya. Heto ang sagot ho niya: ““86 years have I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” And as a result, he was martyred. He was burned at the stake. But prior to being burned, here was his prayer, “O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of you, the God of angels, powers and every creature, and of all the righteous who live before you, I give you thanks that you count me worthy to be numbered among your martyrs, sharing the cup of Christ and the resurrection to eternal life, both of body and soul, through the immortality of the Holy Spirit. I praise you for all these things, I bless you and glorify you, along with the everlasting Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. To you, with him, through the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and forever. Amen.” And then he was burned at the stake. Alam ninyo?
Nakakatuwa..when he was threatened with burning, alam niyo? Susunugin ninyo ako. That will only last for an hour and then be extinguished. Pero may mas malalang nag-aantay kung mamatay kayo sa kasalanan ninyo..and that is the eternal judgment of God. Even at the point of his death, he was still thinking of proclaiming and preaching the Word of Christ to the people who were trying to kill him.
It is heartening to know that even though Polycarp died as a martyr one can not deny that he was someone who believed in God wholeheartedly. Makikita mo doon sa speech ng tao, makikita doon sa demeanour ng tao, when he was facing death. Hindi ho siya takot! Hindi ho siya nagpa-panic..wala hong galit sa puso ho niya. Evenso, he was able to answer respectfully but with truth and boldness. His prayer prior his death speaks of a man who understood deeply what it meant to be a faithful servant of the Lord, and his conduct shows it in spades. His speech and conversation also attests to the reality of his Faith as well, which brings us to our second point, CONSECRATED CONVERSATIONS. Paul charges Timothy to be kind to everyone and to correct with gentleness. Now of course in our present age, there are a lot of hot button issues that we can find themselves engaged in both within and outside the church. What do I mean by this? There are issues among others like Darwinism and evolution; critical race theory; abortion and female reproductive rights; female elders; church liturgy and worship; Marxism; prosperity theology; Hypergrace theology, contemporary Christian music; and Pentecostalism, among others. Paul’s reminder for Timothy for engaging in these kinds of discussions is simple: disengage. Now, I’m not saying the bible is silent about these things. The bible has a lot to say about these things and what it says is of course authoritative. But what Paul is saying is that we must not engage in discussions of theses ideas especially with the world. Bakit? Wala namang wisdom yung mundo patungkol sa mga bagay na ito eh. So ano ang aasahan mo kapag makipag-usap ka sa kanila?
Verse 23 tells us these kinds of talks only produce quarrels. Because the reality is that we, I have yet to see a debate wherein one side switched positions or changed convictions after the discussion. Meron ba kayong nakitang ganun? Wala di ba? Whether it’s a formal or informal discussion, wala namang nagbabago ng isip nila. I have yet to see a debate happen where one side, at the end of it will say I repent of my position and then he will agree wholeheartedly with his opponent. Now, this is not to say that a believer must not engage in society with truth. Tayo lang ho yung nagbibitbit ng katotohanan so huwag ho nating itago ho iyon. The reality is if we are followers of Christ then we are truthtellers. We are preachers, we are teachers and we have a charge to speak the truth in love.. okay. So, if believers are called to speak the truth in love, why engage in conversations that may actually start quarrels even if we don’t mean to. That’s a very important question. Sabi ni Paul, avoid quarrels but we can’t avoid talking about..talking about things with other people. Why engage in activity that may cause hard discussions? Well, because God Himself was the One who established the ways and means to draw people to Himself, and that is none other through the faithful preaching of the Word.
Wala naman hong ginawang paraan Iyung Diyos para tawagin yung Kanya kundi sa pamamagitan ng paghahayag ng Ebanghelyo. Hence there is no other way that a faithful servant of the Lord can be most faithful than in preaching and teaching the Word of God.
God does not primarily call people to Himself via signs and wonders. Hindi ho naman ginagamit primarily ng Diyos yung mga kababalaghan para iyon ang maging paraan para tawagin yung mga tao Niya para sa sarili Niya. And kung meron mang mga taong naniniwala po doon, okay.. in love, in truth, pakisabi ho sa kanila, they’re sincerely wrong. Okay..they’re misreading and misusing Scriptures. But God has condescended to allow His very words to be codified in a book, to be read and studied and re- taught to others via the medium of speech, so faithful servants cannot avoid speaking and conversing. Wala ho tayong ibang paraan para makipag-usap sa ibang tao. Paul is very clear though in the attitude or demeanor that accompanies the speech or conversations that a faithful servant must have. Yung paalala ni Paul: he must be kind, he must be gentle. The servant of the Lord must not be domineering and quarrelsome. Must not given to fits of rage or anger. But this gentleness should not be mistaken for being tongue-tied or being meek to the point of not being able to answer. Yung tahimik ka na lang, wala ka nang nasabi. Hindi ho ganito ang ibig sabihin ng gentleness and kindness. And this becomes clearer when taken into account with the other attributes that a faithful servant must have. Bakit? Kasi yung susunod po noon, sabi po ni Paul, a faithful servant must be able to teach. But there are some people, when they hear this, they think about the spiritual gift of public speaking.
Hindi ho iyon yung point ni Paul. We acknowledge, there are people who have spiritual gifts when it comes to teaching and preaching. However, this one is not about that. Okay, the ability to speak or to teach speaks of someone who spent countless hours doing their due diligence and therefore are equipped to teach because they know what needs to be taught. Heto ho iyong taong ibinuhos ho yung buhay ho niya sa pag-aaral ho ng Salita ho ng Diyos. No amount of gift can teach you that.
Kailangan mo lang maging dilihente. Kailangan mo lang maging masipag at matiyaga. They studied Scriptures, they labored to do the hard work of preparation and study to be able to teach. Ito po iyung tinutukoy ni Paul. They devoured the Word of God and they took to heart what he taught. Iyung mahal na mahal nila si Lord! Gusto niyang marinig palagi iyung boses Niya sa pamamagitan nang pag-aaral ng Kaniyang Salita. Taking this together with the charge to be gentle and mild, it images a person who speaks with power, conviction, and authority because they are not merely spouting opinions and personal musings, but they are sharing and preaching the very words of our Lord. And of course, for a believer, alam natin na iyong Scriptures is the final arbiter for life and practice.
Scripture tells us in 1st 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.” This means no matter how gentle a manner the man of God preaches the truth, it will offend. That is why Paul tells Timothy to be patient when wronged. Because offended people will call you self-righteous, or holier than thou, or someone on a high horse, and those are very hurtful words. It may cause someone to respond in anger. It may cause someone to lash out harshly, and that’s why it’s important to patiently endure evil. Because the duty of a faithful servant is to point to Jesus and to preach Christ crucified, then the goal must always be kept in mind for why a consecrated conduct and conversations are necessary for one to always have. Nakakatuwa, makikita ho natin yung sagot sa verse 25 and 26.
A gentle answer turns away wrath and may be used of God to grant repentance to unbelievers. In verses 25 and 26 look at the same event through two perspectives, a divine perspective and human perspective. The divine perspective outlines repentance as a gift of God to undeserving sinners, a grace that is given by God to those whom He intends to save by the faithful preaching of the Lord’s servant. If God does not Himself, grant or give repentance, natural man, who is dead in his trespasses and dead in his sin, will continue to remain dead and will never repent.
The gentle yet powerful and authoritative preaching of the servant of the Lord must bring to bear the truth of the Gospel so that God would give listeners the grace of repentance. From the human side we are told that by speaking gently, by answering kindly, people may come to their senses. Yung image na nais maintindihan or ibigay ni Apostle Paul kay Timothy by saying that they may come to repentance or come to their senses carries the idea of someone who is drunk and then binuhusan ho siya ng malamig na tubig…tapos natauhan ho siya. It carries the idea of someone who is drunk and is suddenly brought to their senses when the truth of the Gospel washes over them like a cold bucket of water that takes away the their drunkenness.
Timothy must speak the truth in gentleness but with boldness because there is a hope that God might awaken them, because their souls are at stake.
We must be reminded that natural man is not a morally neutral creature. Yan ho iyong paniniwala ng karamihan sa mundo. ‘Ay yung tao naman makakapg-decide naman iyan, good or evil.
Yes, of course, we know what is good and evil but our tendencies are bent towards evil. Our desires tends towards selfishness and self-gain. Spiritually they are enslaved by the devil, and captured by him to do his will. That’s what the passage says. That is why from both human and divine perspectives, iisa lang ho Iyung solusyon: Preach the Word. And so it behooves us that our conversations must be full of grace, that we must always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us, and that we do it with gentleness and respect.
There’s a danger when confronted with opportunities to speak about the gospel is that we may capitulate, we may surrender for fear of offending people. But we must understand that there is really no way apart from watering down Scriptures to make the gospel palatable to the world. Hindi naman ho talaga mamahalin ng mundo ang mga Salita ng Diyos. Bakit? May Galit ho sila sa Diyos. They are in rebellion against God. And so to seek to try to capitulate to the world just to make Jesus more attractive to them will never work for us. How do Christians fail at the charge to faithfully present the gospel at times? Minsan ho pini-present ho natin ang Gospel as some kind of life improvement plan. Di ho ba? Life is good but it could even be better. Try JesusPlus. Or you are a good person, but do you want to be an even better person? Try Jesus. Hindi lang ho merely life improvement si Kristo. He brings dead people to life. He brings people in rebellion to Him under His Kingdom, under His Lordship, under His Allegiance. Another way that people present the Gospel eternal fire insurance. Di ho ba? Gusto mo bang mapunta sa impyerno? Hindi di ba? O di tanggapin mo si Jesus. Pray and accept Jesus so you will have eternal fire insurance. Libre pa, wala kang babayaran, pray ka lang. Or we may present God as someone who loves you so much, di ba?
God is not mad at you but He’s mad about you so please, please, pretty please, do God a solid, tanggapin mo si Christ. As if God’s being Lord and Saviour somehow dependent on the person’s decision. While those approaches have a kernel of truth in them, they are a distortion of the Gospel for they shift the focus from the Holiness of the Creator and His call for creatures to repent of their sins, and then it shifts the focus, puts the Man on a pedestal, na parang siya yung pinaka-importanteng creature sa buong universe. Huwag ho tayong ganoon. Huwag ho nating isiping kawawa ho si God..kawawa si God..ginawa na Niya ang lahat…meet Him halfway naman, accept Him. Hindi ho. But God is holy, God is calling people to repentance. If you don’t repent of your sins, God’s wrath abides in you, and if you persist in that, then you will receive God’s justice. But because God is rich in mercy, He sent His only Son to live the perfect, sinless life that we could never live according to God’s holy standard. And then He died on the cross, not because of any sin that He committed, but as payment for the sins of those who will put their faith in Him. So if you find yourself at odds with God, if you find yourself at war with God, because you are in rebellion of Him, you don’t love Him, then friend, I am beseeching you, by the rich mercy of God, surrender your life to Christ. No peace, no true peace, no true joy, because those things can only be found in Christ, the Lord and Saviour. The Deacon Stephen in Acts is the first martyr to die for the Faith.
And his masterful presentation of Christ as Messiah from all the way to the Old Testament story of Abraham. He threaded God’s gospel proclamations to the people all the way to his present time. And he showed God’s revelation concerning the Messiah and it is an exemplary model of what consecrated conversations look like. There he was, preaching to the very people who would eventually murder him and yet his concern, his desire was for their soul, and even in his last breaths, mamamatay na lang ho siya, iyung prayer pa rin niya, Lord, do not take this sin against them, even as they were actively murdering him. And of course the chief instigator of Stephen’s martyrdom, eventually became the very same person advocating Timothy to gentle speech that God may grant the opponents of the gospel repentance, and that they may escape the snare that the devil placed them in. Nakakatuwa ho iyung buhay ho ng mga taong katulad nina Stephen, Paul, Timothy, even si Polycarp. Pinakita ho sa atin that in Christ, by the grace of God, we can be faithful servants whose lives are marked by a holy conduct and holy conversations.
The examples of the lives of Stephen, Paul, Timothy, and Polycarp show us that in Christ, we can be faithful servants whose lives are marked by consecrated conduct and consecrated conversations. We must understand that the call to live consecrated lives is so that our lives would serve to adorn the profession of the Gospel. Sinasabi ho natin, tayo ho ay alagad ni Kristo kapag pinapakita ho natin iyon sa pamamaraan ng pamumuhay ho natin at sa pamamaraan ng pagsasalita ho natin. Mas Gaganda ho, mas hahalimuyakyung Ebanghelyo ho sa buhay natin. And as God’s Spirit continuously conforms us to Christ-likeness all the more our lives will serve to glorify God if we are faithful to obey his commands as His servants. In this, may our Lord Jesus Christ find all of us faithful.
Let us pray. Aming Amang Banal, maraming salamat po O Diyos sa Inyong kabutihan sa bawa’t isa ho sa amin. O, Diyos, maraming salamat na hindi lamang ang mga nagtuturo ng Inyong Salita ang Inyong tinawag upang magkaroon ng banal na pamumuhay at pananalita. Ngunit ang bawa’t isa ho sa amin na tumatawag ho sa Inyong Pangalan bilang Panginoon ay binigyan Ninyo po ng kaloob po na ito. Lord I pray that You will find all of us faithful, that as we continue to war with ourselves and with our flesh, all the more that we would rely on You, that we would grow in Christ’s likeness as we continue to walk this earth. We give all the glory, praise and honour, continue to sustain us for the rest of the day. We ask for all these things in Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
Transcribed by: Janette Bautista