Trustworthy Sayings From A Pastor’s Heart
August 4, 1996
I. Real Ministry is from a Humble Heart of Grace
1Ti 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst.
A. “Trustworthy saying,” literally “faithful the word, true word or faithful saying,” (4103 +3056). Found only five times in the N.T. and all of these in the pastoral letters. These are solid references to doctrine or practice upon which full reliance can be placed (“deserves full acceptance”), and they are from Paul the apostle to his true sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus, concerning instructions for the pastoral care of their churches. It is profound spiritual truth from pastor to pastor meant for the good of us all. It is from Paul’s heart to ours.
B. This saying epitomizes the cardinal fact of Christian truth. It points to the heart of the gospel.. It reminds us of the reason Jesus came. The longer we walk with Christ, the more clearly we see our sinful state, and the more overwhelmed we are by the power of His grace.
C. A minister (anyone who brings Christ to another) may only effectively present Christ from the standpoint of one who is himself a redeemed sinner. Paul saw himself as the “worst of sinners” and from this humble and convicting truth he could testify of the power of God’s grace and mercy to save anyone from any sin. His life was, and is, a testimony. Also our own lives testify of God’s redeeming power when we tell our story. We become “living proof”, and we, like Paul, can spontaneously break out in praise to God for that which we did not deserve (v.17).
D. Real ministry is from a humble heart of grace that flows from God, to us, to others. Ministry to others can never be effective from a standpoint of pride. This is a good saying to remember.
II. Real Ministry is from a Holy Life
1Ti 3:1 ¶ Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.
A. If one sets his heart to minister to others in any way it must begin with the humble heart of “the worst of sinners.” But we must move on from there to realize the nobility of the task. It is a heavy responsibility that reflects a deep consecration to the work of the church. But it is a work that is respected in the church as a noble calling. We are saved from sin in order to do Christ’s work.
B. A noble task demands a noble calling. A noble calling can only be from a noble life. A noble life is one that is walking in obedience to Christ. This is most important as a requirement for a consistent example in leadership, but it is also important for anyone who would desire the leadership role of leading anyone to Christ. There must be evidence of our own changed life if we are to influence others with the truth of Christ.
C. Real ministry happens when we walk with Christ in holiness. Holy works flow from a holy life to bring holy life to others. To desire the work is to desire the calling. If we strive for the high calling of holiness, we do the work of Christ. This is a true and practical saying.
III. Real Ministry is from a Steadfast Hope
1Ti 4:9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance
1Ti 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things.
A. Not only did Christ come to save sinners and transform them into saints as pillars of the church to do the work of the church, but we are reminded again that this potential in Christ exists for all people, even to the worst and to the least. Our hope for ourselves and for others is in Christ. No one is exempt from this hope.
B. Not only is this saying a challenge of hope for others, but also a challenge of hope for ourselves. We are exhorted to not give up in our own belief of Christ’s ability to save us from the difficulties of sin in our lives.
C. This is a living hope in a living God who is able to deliver on our hope. Since we are assured of deliverance we are enabled to labor and strive accordingly. We can have confidence in the ministry we have been given and in the God who gave it “especially to those who believe.” This end is worth all our effort as we carry out our own salvation as well as taking it to the least of these, even to those who may reject it for now.
D. Our special confidence in God is reinforced by the knowledge that His divine mercy is universal in its scope. God is the “Savior of all men” in a double sense. He preserves them providentially until they can be saved spiritually. This saying is a good reminder of universal hope.
IV. Real Ministry is from a Selfless Love
2Ti 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
2Ti 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
2Ti 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
14 ¶ Keep reminding them of these things.
A. We have seen the value of a humble heart, a high calling, and of a universal hope in Paul’s sayings to his pastoral trainees. Now he focuses on two remaining instructions which empower it all: sacrificial love and Holy Spirit power.
1. In this saying we see:
a. The value of sacrificial love
b. The reward for sacrificial love
c. The penalty for not applying sacrificial love
d. That sacrificial love wins out either way (either with or without us) in Christ
2. In the last saying we see the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that enables us both to receive the sacrificial love that Christ has for us and to live that sacrificial love in ministry to others.
B. If we are with Him:
1. The value of sacrificial love: from death to life.
a. If we identify with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, then we obtain spiritual life even in this life. We must die to live.
b. Our union with Christ enables us to endure everything “for the sake of the elect” (v. 10). We are then able to minister this life giving love we have received to others which Christ so freely gave to us all upon the cross.
c. In context, His courage and endurance to minister love to us becomes ours to minister love to others.
2. The reward for sacrificial love: from endurance to glory.
a. Living and ministering the Christian life is not an easy task. It may involve persecution and suffering. We are called upon to endure even as Paul has done - with a good attitude.
b. If endurance is the Christian’s constant duty (Mt. 10:22-23), much more will partnership in the kingdom be our constant enjoyment (Rom. 8:17).
c. We will be surrounded by the love we have freely received and given.
C. If any should be against Him:
1. The penalty for not applying sacrificial love: from disowning to being disowned.
a. To deny or disown Christ’s love is never to have truly received it (Mt. 10:32-33).
b. This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable (Mt. 12:31) and results in not being recognized (Mt. 7:21-23) on the day of judgment.
c. This is a challenge for us to endure by remaining in Christ’s love for us and in Christ’s love for others in whatever ministry we have been given.
2. Sacrificial love wins out either way in Christ whether we be with Him or against Him: even if our love fails, God never fails, for God is love.
a. The awful contemplation of being denied by Christ is offset by the concluding emphasis on His faithfulness.
b. God will carry out His ministry of love with or without us. Much better to go with Him and reap the reward. God is faithful both in reward and in judgment. And His promises are true.
c. This too is a challenge for us to endure by reminding us of God’s winning hand of victory. There is no need for us to disown or be disowned because the victory is ours along with His in our ministry.
V. Real Ministry is from a Transforming Power
Tit 3:4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Tit 3:7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Tit 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
A. In this last saying we see the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that enables us both to receive the sacrificial love that Christ has for us, and to live that sacrificial love in ministry to others.
B. The marvelous salvation that we now know must motivate our ministry with the unsaved. This trustworthy saying is a beautiful summary of the whole gospel which mentions its following parts. It is a noble doctrinal statement.
1. Its manifestation is in the context of the kindness and love of God in the appearance of Jesus Christ (v. 4).
2. Its basis (the fact of our salvation) is only because of God’s mercy and not because of any of our own works (v. 5a).
3. Its means is through the agency and power of our Triune God with emphasis upon the Holy Spirit who enables us to receive (washing of rebirth) and live (renewal - as in continuous) our salvation (vv. 5b-6).
a. This passage brings each member of the Trinity to light in His own special function in the work of human redemption.
b. The Father: “He saved us.”
c. The Spirit: “by the Holy Spirit.”
d. The Son: “through Jesus Christ.”
4. Its results are that we now have (v. 7):
a. Justification before God through grace.
b. An inheritance in His kingdom.
c. The hope (assurance) of eternal life.
A. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
B. If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.
C. We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.
D. If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
E. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.