Attention: Plot Armor – Cardo Dalisay
At August 12,2022 the Teleserye “Probinsyano” which aired from on ABS CBN reached its 1,696th episode – that is the final episode. So it tells us the story of a cop turned vigilante, turned hero, fighting with corrupt politicians, corrupt police officers, and soldiers and also corrupt people. And throughout the run of this TV show, aside from wanting the villains to die, the viewers or the people watching this tele-serye wanted protagonist to die. Meron pang meme nakalagay mukha ni Cardo, bakit gusto ninyo ako mamatay? Hindi ko naman kayo inaaano. And because despite experiencing injuries that should kill a man, he always survived. Sa tinagal-tagal ng serye, makakasagupa siya ng kalaban, matatalo siya ng kalaban, mag-aagaw buhay siya, tapos gagaling siya ulit, lalaban siya ulit at mananalo tapos susunod na kalaban ulit. And one may conclude – Cardo Dalisay, the protagonist, possesses an overpowered plot armor.
And in the Christian life, believers do not possess an overpowered plot armor but are preserved by grace through faith by virtue of the covenant ratified by Christ’s death and resurrection and sealed by His blood. And the undeserving and repentant sinner is now forgiven through the person and work of Christ and is empowered by God’s Spirit to accomplish His will. And knowing these truths, we who are in Christ can persevere to live a life of love, gratitude, and obedience in Christ because despite the many hardships caused by sin and brought to us by life’s circumstances, we are assured of the life and the glory that awaits us in the life to come. We are able to persevere through God’s preservation. Turn with me to our passage this morning, that’s Second Timothy chapter 3 verses 10 to 17. I’ll be reading from the English Standard Version.
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
May the Lord add blessing to the reading of His Word.
So we are now on the second half of the third chapter of Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Lasat week, we talked about its first half. And in the earlier verses of this chapter, Paul alerts Timothy of the endtime indicators which Christ has already warned about. And makikita natin doon that Paul lists the worsening evil characteristics of wicked men rooted in self-love and the love for money. Then Paul commands Timothy to avoid men such as these. Paul also tells Timothy of the conduct of these people. Sabi niya – they enter households and capture weak women who are weighed down by sin and various impulses. They are always learning but they are never able to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Again, this is not to discourage Timothy. Hindi sinasabi ni Paul ito kay Timothy para sabihin sa kanya na tumigil ka na sa ministeryo mo para pang-hinaan siya ng loob. Paul tells this to Timothy – to paint a picture of what he’s about to face. And rather than be taken by surprise or be discouraged, he must deepen his resolve and have hope that knowing these things are to be expected. He must persevere. He continues to assure Timothy that just as Jannes and Jambres, iyung mga court magicians ni Pharaoh na nag-ooppose kay Moses. Katulad nila, na kung sila dati, ginagaya nila iyong magic ni Moses, iyong mga miracles ni Moses para ipakita sa mga tao na ‘fake iyan’ pero pagdating sa dulo, pinakita ng Diyos na “totoo iyan, na kasama Ako ni Moses.” Na Siya iyung pinili ko. Ganon rin iyong gagawin Niya with Timothy. Because their foolishness will be made evident to all. And then this second half of the third chapter, Paul then gives focus on the resources Timothy already possesses to fight the good fight of faith, to finish the race, and to keep the faith. This leads us to the message this morning – “God sustains His church in her life and mission by His sustaining work and Word.” “God sustains His church in her life and mission by His sustaining work and Word.”[ Pinagpapatuloy ng Diyos ang Kanyang simbahan sa buhay at misyon nito sa pamamagitan ng Kanyang Gawa at Salita.] And to expound on this message, we will look at two things: Sustained by God’s Work [Pinagpapatuloy ng gawa ng Diyos] and second is Living through God’s Word [Nabubuhay sa pamamagitan ng Salita ng Diyos]. Let’s consider the first point: Sustained by God’s Work. Here, Paul assured Timothy that God will likewise rescue and sustain him. [Tiniyak ni Paul kay Timothy na siya rin ay ililigtas at pangangalagaan ng Dios.] Having listed the qualities of wicked men and false teachers who oppose the gospel, Paul transitions to his godly life and how it influenced Timothy. The phrase “followed” in that passage gives us a picture that Timothy was always attending to Paul. Katulong siya ni Paul; nasa side siya ni Paul
lagi. And he attends to whatever Paul needs and wherever Paul goes, Timothy goes with him. But at the same time, this word also has an idea of following a teaching, that means to follow something with a concentrated attention with focus so as to make that very teaching a part of one’s being. So, pag sinasabi natin na Timothy “followed” what Paul has listed concerning his godly life, he also made it a part of himself. In short, he imitated Paul’s life, teaching, conviction, faith, perseverance, love, everything that is listed there. Through this, Paul is urging Timothy again to share in his suffering as he recalls his persecution at Antioch, Iconium and Lystra which we read earlier. And here, urges Timothy, pointing out how God sustained and rescued him despite the great opposition. We’ve read there that people wanted to kill Paul, people called Paul a god then Paul rejected them. People stoned Paul to death and Paul, in a sense, was ‘near death’ but most of the believers encircled him and prayed for him and then he stood again and preached the gospel again and people came to faith. And he then concludes with this, that those who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted. However, here in Timothy’s context, while wickedness and opposition abound, Timothy can take heart and persevere knowing that God will protect him and preserve him. And in other words, God is able sustain us both our pursuit of holiness and accomplishing the work He has given to us. Kaya tayong alalayan ng Dios sa ating pagpursige sa kabanalan at gayundin sa iniatas Niyang gawain sa atin. Paano? We already know that God already secured our salvation if we are in Christ. If we have repented and believed in the gospel then no one can snatch us from His hand, not even death, not even suffering, not even famine. Sabi ni Paul sa Romans 8 – nothing can separate us from the outpouring love of God. Does it mean that God does not love you when you don’t feel hopeful or happy? Does it mean then that God missed to protect you when you encounter something that is dangerous or when you encounter some negative experiences? No, it does not mean that God will not allow us to be injured or experience negative emotions. We can see this in the life of Paul and other believers before; that God preserves His people through all their trials. With this thought, I am reminded of our opening passage as Isaiah 43 verse 2. It says there: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Mostly, this passage is used by charismatics to demonstrate their powers. But if you’re going to look at it, one can observe that there is a transition from general to specific (from waters to rivers, from fire to flame) which shows us that in the totality of suffering, that is in every suffering, God is with His people and He is in
control. So when God said that waters won’t drown us, or the fire won’t burn us – it is figuratively speaking that in those trials, those trials will not overcome us, that those trials, no matter how hard, no matter how discouraging, no matter how struggling we do in that certain trial, He will, one, He will sustain us and at the same time, He will sanctify us that He will make us, He will transform us to the image and likeness of Christ as we go through those sufferings. The persecution and opposition that Paul encountered became a crown of authenticity of his message and a testimony of God’s faithfulness to him. As we’ve read despite the plot to kill Paul, –God preserved him until the time that God has appointed, which is this part of the letter wherein he is now imprisoned, his last Roman imprisonment and he’s telling to Timothy that the next chapter that it’s now time for me to die. And God preserved Paul all throughout those trials until his appointed time.And if there’s preservation from outside, then there’s also preservation from within because God preserves our faith through all our trials. The Holy Spirit within us, empowers us and enables us to keep the fire of our faith burning to continue trusting Him and to do what He has given us to do. It is also a seal, sabi natin sa nakaraang preaching natin, that it is a seal which marks everyone who is in Him, imprinta, and a pledge or assurance, panigurado, that He will be true to His promise. Add to that Christ’s work as our High Priest. He mediates between us, He is our mediator between..He is our mediator between God and between us. And also, as He mediates between us, He intercedes for us, He prays for us so that our faith will not fail. And Paul can encourage believers to workout their salvation in fear and trembling. Bakit? Because he knows that God is at work, both to make us will and both to make us work for His good pleasure. Philippians chapter 2: 12 to 13.
And in John Bunyan’s classic book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, he gave an illustration for this truth. You can look at it in chapter 5, or if you’re following the amazon free ebook, it’s in second stage. Here we see “Christian, the main character” meets a helper named “Interpreter.” And Interpreter’s job was to teach Christian the important truths he will need, the important truths he will need for the journey of faith. And in this certain part, Interpreter shows Christian a fire that is burning against a wall, it’s like a fireplace, and how someone was standing by the fire constantly putting water to the fire in order to put it out. What happened? The fire did not go out. Not only did it not go out, it burned higher and hotter. So, si Christian, noong nakita niya ito, ang sabi niya, ang tanong niya, siyempre kasi allegorical iyong Pilgrim’s Progres. Ang tanong niya: “What does this mean?” Interpreter explained that the fire is the work of grace that God produces in our hearts — the grace of trust
in Christ and our love for him. But the devil, the one who is trying to put water into the fire, is constantly trying to put out this fire by pouring on it the water of temptations and worries and trials. Then Interpreter wanted to show Christian. So, how the fire not only kept burning, but kept burning higher and hotter. So sa likod ng wall, pinakita ni Interpreter kay Christian na may tao sa likod ng wall na nagpou-pour ng oil para hindi mamatay iyung apoy. And siyempre si Christian, kailangan niyang maintindihan ito, tinanong niya ulit – what does this mean Interpreter answered — This is Christ, who continually with the oil of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart; by this grace, in spite of what the devil can do, the souls of his people prove to gracious still, that is filled with divine grace. And the man whom you saw who stood behind the wall to maintain the fire; this is to teach you that it is hard for the tempted one to see how this work of grace is maintained in the soul. And though we have an enormous task at hand, our battle with our own sins, our struggle with wickedness in our culture and the enemy, the devil, God will supply the oil to keep our hearts ever burning for Him. So the challenge for us is this: Look not on our discouragements but review and trust in the faithful work of God. Huwag mong masyadong bigyang pansin ang mga bagay na sanhi ng panghihina ng iyong kalooban, bagkus suriin mo at magtiwala ka sa matapat na gawain ng Dios. The question for us is has God failed you in the past? Look back and see how God sustained you. With every problem that seem to defeat you yet by His grace he sustains you and upholds you. If you’re going to examine it, and if you’re going to think about it, isn’t this something that should fill your heart with gratitude knowing that you are undeserving of this sustenance? Can’t you see with eyes of faith how great your trials are, yet by his grace you are still here striving, waging war against your flesh, the world and the devil? You may have lost some things, but you have not lost Christ. Another week He has sustained you and another day He reminds you of His faithfulness and His graciousness as you feast upon His Word and later on this afternoon, as you eat of the bread and drink of the wine at the Lord’s table. Examine how God is sustaining you in the present. And if you have experienced this, humble yourself and rejoice that He loves you. And if you have experienced his faithfulness, both in the past and here now in the present, then have hope that he will continue to sustain you even in the future. The more we look at the devil pouring water onto the fire, we’ll be discouraged that the flame seems to grow weak. Parang nanghihina iyong apoy ng ating pananampalataya. But as we examine the fire, it is sustained. Christ pours the oil of his grace. That is why Paul can conclude in Philippians 1:6 that… he who began a good work in you will bring it to
completion at the day of Jesus Christ. The assurance for this one is none other than the cross. His blood washes us from all our sins for He has paid for the penalty of our sin. His blood makes the covenant binding – He will never forsake us; He is sure to comfort us, and He will surely sustain us. And these blessings are enjoyed by those who are in Him.
Si Thomas Brooks, sa kaniyang commentary sa Psalms 37:24 wherein he tells there that though someone may seem to fall, he would always be upheld by God’s right hand. He says there that God’s upholding of His people denotes a continued act of God. Hindi napuputol, hindi tumitigil. Moreover, the Hebrew word for it signifies to sustain or uphold as they tender mother with the little baby. You see our church has many women with nursing kids. And that is the illustration of how Christ sustains us. Sabi niya doon: “The safety and security of the child lies not so much in the child’s hanging about the mother’s neck as in the mother’s holding it fast in her arms. So, our safety and security lie not so much in our weak holding upon Christ, wherein the baby, he just holds on the neck of the mother, he will surely fall. But Christ holding us fast in His everlasting arms. How? This is our glory and our safety, that Christ’s left hand is always under us, and His right hand does always embrace us.”
And if you are in Christ, be reminded of this truths. Rejoice that you have found favor in Christ. Can you imagine how much of this blessing, this favour that you are enjoying right now? And sometimes being taken for granted? And if you are not yet in Christ, you may have experienced His sustenance by God’s common grace. This is to show you His graciousness so that you may see your need of a Saviour. Yes, you have problems, and sometimes, you overcome it. You’re still alive and you will tell yourself it is because “I did it.” But no, it is because God is gracious to you also. Yes, you may survive another day, but the question is do you have the assurance to survive the day of judgment? When you die, you are doomed to judgment because you are still in your sin. But today, God speaks to you by His Word. God speaks to you through the gospel. That though you are sinful, that though you deserve hell, Christ has..God has provided us Christ. That whoever believes in Him, that whoever repents and believes in Him will be saved and enjoy eternal life. That is why if you are here and you are not yet in Christ, humble yourself, repent and believe in the gospel that you may be reconciled to God.
Since God sustains us by His work, how do we know this? What does He use to reveal Himself to us that we may know Him? What did God use to renew us and to sustain us through our pilgrimage here on earth?
Let’s consider the second point. Living through God’s Word. Here we read that Paul urged Timothy to continue in what he has learned and believed by reminding him of the life of those who taught him and the source of their teaching. Hinimok ni Paul si Timothy na magpatuloy sa kanyang mga natutunan at pinaniniwalaan habang ipinapaalala sa kanya ang buhay ng mga nagturo nito sa kanya at ang pinagmulan ng mga katuruang ito. He is reminded not only of Paul’s life and testimony, as well as other Christian leaders he worked with but also of his mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois who taught him the Old Testament as they try to do their best to raise Timothy in the knowledge and fear of the Lord. And Timothy knew their life and example. And by it, he can be assured for a fact that those who have taught God’s truth to him are faithful followers of God. At the same time, Paul emphasized the effect of understanding Holy Scriptures – it is able to lead sinners to a saving knowledge of God’s truth by faith in Jesus Christ. If we’re going to go back to the earlier passage, unlike those that are always learning but are never able to arrive at the knowledge of truth, Timothy possesses saving faith which awakens godly fear, love and a desire for God not only to know Him but to live for Him. Moreover, the Scripture that led him to repentance and faith is also the one which holds supreme authority over his life and ministry. And as Paul points out, the scripture’s origin and its purpose, we come to understand that there is no other means that God uses to redeem His people and at the same time, to direct all of our life but His Word. In other words, God sanctifies and upholds His people through His Word. Pinababanal at tinataguyod ng Diyos ang kanyang simbahan sa pamamagitan ng Kanyang Salita. You see, trees get their nourishment from the soil through their roots. If you want to kill a tree you don’t just cut the trunk, you have to destroy the roots. And if the roots are healthy, it will continue to grow. This is also true with a believer. If He is not rooted and grounded on the Word, there will be no growth. There will be no sustenance of life. When Paul stated that All Scripture is breathed out by God – he is directly telling Timothy and indirectly us, other believers that the Holy Scriptures is of divine origin. It is inspired by God. Now, this is not the same inspiration you feel when you see your crush. What it means is that God directed human authors of the Bible to compose and record His message to humanity in their original writings. In a sense, every word in the Bible in its original writings, that is Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, is God’s inerrant and infallible Word. Sabi sa second Peter chapter 1 verse 21 – For no
prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. At times, God spoke directly to the human authors.And this was the case with the prophets. It was the direct revelation from God. However more often, mas madalas, it is God directing the human authors by the influence of His Holy Spirit working through their personalities and also using their own vocabularies in order to write the Holy Scriptures. Sabi nga sa Hebrews chapter 1 verses 1 to 2 that God spoke to us by the prophets in the Old Testament – they receive God’s Word directly. However, in these last days, which started at Christ’s first coming and ends at His return, God speaks to us through His Son. So God speaks to us from the Old Testament and God speaks to us also in the New Testament. And as we’ve read in the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, it is the is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience for every believer. Furthermore, the centerpiece of this revelation is Christ.The goal of Scripture is to reveal the Savior who can save sinners from the power, penalty and presence of sin and to give us new life. Binasa natin sa Second London Baptist Confession kanina that God, He has expressed His power, His sovereignty in all of creation. That man doesn’t have any excuse but this cannot reveal God to us in the same way that Scripture does. Here, in the Scripture, we read how God is faithful and gracious to us sinners and what He has done to accomplish this great act of redemption. It is the Word that leads us to a saving knowledge of Christ and teach us to live in accordance with His truths that we may live for God’s glory alone. How does Scripture accomplish this? Sabi sa passage natin, it is profitable for teaching..teaching what? Teaching what is true according to God’s standard. And also reproofs us so we can know what is wrong. Sinasaway Niya tayo para malaman natin kung aano iyong mali. And at the same time it corrects us to lead us to what is right. Tinatama Niya tayo para malaman natin kung ano ang tama. It is also by it that we are trained to live for His glory. How should we pray? How should we disciple? How should we conduct our church worship? How should we live, how should we live as pilgrims here on earth? How should we submit to authorities? Pwedeng sa parents natin, sa government and sa church authorities. It guides us to live in light of the gospel, killing our sin and cultivating its opposite graces. And for what purpose is this? It is so that the man of God, that is every believer; may be complete..that is to say nourished unto maturity. That they are reared upon, they are fed and then they grow and in turn, because they are now mature, they are equipped for every good work, that is to say, to do what God has assigned one to do, according to what God has given as one grows in grace by the power of His Spirit through God’s Word. For this reason, the
challenge for us is this.. to cherish and to submit to His Word knowing that it has given us life and it sustains us to live in the Christian life. Pahalagahan mo at magpasakop ka sa Salita ng Dios dahil ito ang nagbigay ng ating bagong buhay at siya ring magpapatuloy satin sa ating pamumuhay bilang Kristiyano. When Christ was hungry as He fasted for forty days and forty nights, the devil tempted Him to make bread of the stones. And Christ being rooted in God’s Word quoted Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 3. Sabi doon: “And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” If we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord, then how is our love and commitment in reading and studying His Word? Do we rather read Christian books than reading the Bible for ourselves? Yes, the other books can help in our walk with God, and some books are really helpful. Yet good books must never distract from our commitment to the Word of God. Sabi nga ni Spurgeon, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” How is our obedience then in light of His Word or in light of what we have learned? Because we cannot learn everything all at once. Our understanding is demonstrated by our submission and obedience to what we have learned, to His Word. If we study the complexities of the covenants, do we remind ourselves of this when worries and discouragements come and trust God to Whom nothing is impossible? In the Covenant Theology, we see there how God is faithful, despite His people being unfaithful. Do we apply that is our life? If we know that God is seated on the throne and is in control, do we live as if we have hope? or do we trust God and look past the obstacles, continuing in the work He has given us because we have hope? Sabi sa John 4 chapter 34 tells us of how Christ was so eager to obey and glorify the Father. Iyung mga disciples Niya, tinanong Siya kung kumain na ba Siya. Ang sagot Niya, Jesus said to them: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work. “And by this, by obedience, by reading the Word, by studying the Word, we abide in Him and are not only nourished unto maturity but are made useful to build up one another and to witness for Christ in this fallen world. Those who abide in His Word are will be most useful for His commission. Sabi sa John 15 verses 4 to 5: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Consider Robert Murray M’Cheyne. Three months before M’Cheyne died, he provided his church a daily Bible reading plan and many still use it today. If you’re looking at Bible reading plan, you can write Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. It’s a reading plan when you read the Old Testament and New Testament and then there’s two extra for family worship. Sometimes, Old Testament, and some Old Testament and Proverbs. Now why did Murray M’Cheyne write this bible reading plan? His hope was that they “all might be feeding in the same portion of the green pasture at the same time”. He wrote these words to his church about the daily bible reading: “Above all, use the Word as a lamp to your feet and a light to your path, a guide in perplexity, in things that are unknown, your armor in temptation, your food in times of faintness. Hear the constant cry of the great Intercessor, ‘Sanctify Them through Thy Truth: Thy Word is Truth’”. M’Cheyne believe that Christians needed to feed their hearts daily with God’s word in order to flourish in this world. Examine then our obedience. If Christ and His humanity was sustained by God, then how much more you, dear believer? But this cannot be set apart or divided from His Word. It is His very Word that sustains us. And as a conclusion, as God sustains His people by His presence and providence, they are able to continue in the life of faith in love, gratitude and obedience as they are rooted in His Word.
Let us pray. Our gracious God and Father, we thank You Lord God that You have always sustained us. You remain faithful despite of our unfaithfulness. You remain gracious to us, despite of us being ungracious towards others. Lord, we ask that You may help us to see the greatness of Your faithfulness and graciousness to us. To be reminded of Your sustaining work in the world and in us. Help us Lord God to love Your Word. May we hunger for Your Word, it may transform us to live for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.