Sunday, July 24, 2011

THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM ARE HUNG ON PEGS IN DUSTY STORAGE ROOMS.

EAGER TO DO WHAT IS GOOD
A. Brother

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions,
and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives
in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—
the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ—
who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness
and to purify for Himself a People that are His very own,
eager to do what is good.
These, then, are the things you should teach.
Encourage and rebuke with all authority.
Do not let anyone despise (ignore) you.
Titus 2:11-15

It’s probably unnecessary for me to point out how far our modern, affluent churches are from teaching, encouraging and rebuking on the issues of self-control, righteousness, and godly living. 

This little book is God’s sledgehammer, largely ignored in our day and age.

What does Paul say to Titus over and over in this short letter?  He says that true faith and knowledge of Christ will lead to godliness.  This godliness will show itself in goodness, and such traits as self control, righteousness, holiness and discipline.  That true faith and knowledge of Christ will result in us being “eager to do what is good.”  That true faith and knowledge of Christ will result in His having a People who have forsaken wickedness and purified themselves to live lives of good works.

These keys to the Kingdom of God are lost among us.  They are shuffled to back rooms for quiet Bible studies led by the overzealous.  These old keys are hung on pegs in hidden storage rooms, dust-filled lockers, and attics that smell musty.  

After all, we’re modern, affluent Christians, who have so many important things going on.  We’re too busy building our own version of church, our own version of religious Christianity, our own marketing plan for God’s Kingdom, to pay attention to the original document He wrote that laid out the “forever branding plan and positioning statement” for His People.

Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, it is this document that will judge us.  It is the Rock, Christ Himself, upon which we will be smashed, if we don’t run to the back rooms, the dusty, musty, hidden places, and grab these keys to God’s Kingdom.

The churches are asleep.  They are sleepwalking into deathtraps.  These traps have been set by Satan in every generation, and the blind lead the blind down wide roads, tapping their canes together on the pavement, until they both fall into the ditch prepared by the enemy.

The churches let us snooze because they know that if they began preaching and teaching these “old fashioned virtues”, and requiring them to continue on with Christ’s Body and be part of it, that their membership would en-masse immediately move down the road to that other church that isn’t requiring it.  That if you started talking about self-control, you’d lose nearly everyone under forty, and most of those who are older, too. 

Right now you’re saying to yourself: “Self-control in an age of evil self-indulgence and self-focus?  You’ve got to be kidding.  Upright and godly living in an age of complete hedonism and narcissism?  You’re crazy.  We need to be careful how we share these things with our people, because they’re pretty sensitive to guilt and the law.  They’ll push back on this.  They’ll not understand it.  We need to let them slowly get used to the fact that God requires holiness in Christ, and God in Christ has called us to live this Way.”

Pastors, teachers, priests, reverends, ministers, leaders, elders, deacons, and all others who are in positions of authority in the churches must listen to this.

You are responsible, as Titus was, to focus God’s People on these matters.  We live in an age of wickedness that pervades the churches and fills our sanctuaries up to the pulpits and beyond.  We are drowning in sin, and excusing it, ignoring it, and letting it take God’s beloved ones to their deaths in the ditches. 

Where is the flaming Sword of the Holy Spirit that is wielded with authority and power to take down the strongholds of Satan in your churches?  Where is the Truth of the Word, spoken with the authority of Christ, and in the power of His might?  Where is the sledgehammer, which breaks down Satan’s work, which frees the captives, and breaks the chains from the slaves to sin that are held in your care?

And, brothers and sisters, for those of us who don’t hold “recognized positions” in the churches, we, too, are responsible for holding fast to the Word of God, and sharing His full mind with those we know.  How about our children?  How about our spouses?  How about ourselves first?  Are we focusing on living godly, upright, holy lives?  Or are we just getting by, hoping that Christ is a pretty forgiving guy?

Hopefully, we will not be lumped in with the Cretans, whom Paul described this way:

“They claim to know God,
but by their actions they deny Him.
They are detestable, disobedient, and
unfit for doing anything good.”
Titus 1:16

Particularly, this Word in Titus is given to those who have responsibility to lead the People.  And so, I command you in the Name of Jesus Christ to lead us into holiness, and self-control, upright living and purity.  Lead the Way by showing us how it’s done, or get out of the pulpit until you know, and can live this Way yourself.  This is God’s command for those in authority within His House.  No compromises. 

Leader, do you have the courage to search in the old attic for the keys to the Kingdom of God, dust them off, and preach and teach them to yourself, your family, your group of the People of God whom He has assigned you?  Like Titus, will you faithfully “straighten out what was left unfinished” (1:5) and powerfully call His own to repentance and a faith that leads to holiness and purity?  Indeed, will you forsake your own sins, carefully hidden, to follow this call He gave you?

Brothers without position, will you hold your leaders accountable today to live, preach and teach the Way as laid out in the Word?  If we don’t, who will? 



4 comments:

  1. Amen Brother! Self-discipline is something I myself have been keeping in prayer. We are taught from a young age that we can have and do anything we set our minds too and as we grow older we don't even ask God for permission because we have a stupid saying "God helps those who help themselves". I could go on about that stupid saying but I won't :). When I got into college the first thing that was given to me was a credit card. A "buy what you want pay for it later" card. I was so good at paying the minimum faithfully, that more and more credit cards kept appearing and needless to say I got myself into a lot of trouble. God taught me then that I don't need all those things, they were just wants that He didn't want me to have. God said that He would provide my needs and that the "credit Card" was not his way of providing, it was my way of providing for myself. I have been working on that particular trait for a while now. I have NO credit cards and if I don't have it ... it's because I know I don't need it. Although I long for a "refrigerator" I live up in the cold mountains, and God tells me it's not necessary. I live in a one bedroom Apt, which literally means One Room and within that room is a bathroom and kitchen :) and God says be content. WE don't have a car and God says you can use the exercise :) and when it's raining somehow he provides transportation. Amazing isn't it? I'm not there yet, sometimes I get what My eyes want and God gently prods me, but self-discipline is not something easy to learn, at least not when you've grown up in a country where they teach you not to have it. Self-indulgence is what they preach and it's an easy sin to get into.
    Sorry I wrote so much, Thank you Brother for reminding me to be content and to have self-control.
    Barbie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Write as much as you want. Great stuff, sister. I wish everyone were commenting and being forward with their thoughts. We need these challenges to our wrong thinking. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A.Brother,

    This blesses me, I have been praying quite a bit for God to give me a discipline to focus on him and him alone. After reading the book Radical by David Platt, I was moved by his statement that the American Dream is in direct contrast the Christ. As you point out the "Self Control and Self promotion" are at an all time high. I used to joke with a Buddhist friend of mine that he was searching for inner peace and I knew something he didn't know. He would never find it. It would be a journey that if he truly wanted inner peace would only lead him to the foot of the cross. Pray for him, he still thinks the light is in all of us, just lost. I keep telling him I found the light, Jesus, yet he refuses to listen. Also, you mention Pastors and leaders, this is of great concern in my life. I am a member of a Church that has watered down sermons in order to make the new believer feel welcome. I don't feel that the vision is wrong, but when do we draw a line, when do we not accept that for ourselves is what I wrestle with. God moves in this Church, I see it, I know it so I don't want to line up with stones and start throwing. Can there be a balance? Nevertheless, what God showed me is that he can do powerful things no matter who tries to get in the way, even if it is a Pastor or leader in the community. It is ALL for his glory.

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  4. Cronkster:
    We must live Christ. That is the work of God. Like Jesus, we must be about the Father's business in our lives without compromise, and when others around us pander to the world, or preach soft, fringes of the truth, we must be the Light of Christ to them. One thing God has shown me radically in the past few years of testing and trial--that I am only responsible for my Christ-life, and that if I learn to walk truth and speak truth, He will be exalted. As I live His life, so He lives for others. My own frustrations with the churches, and "churchianity" or "fleshianity" as I'm coming to call it, count for nothing. GOD'S WORD will judge us, and CHRIST is the massive Rock upon which all wayward vessels will smash themselves.
    In His mercy, I pray, that when they are shipwrecked as I was, they will cry out to the Lord from the waves and enable Him to rescue them in His own Way. In other words, brother, I just give out the pure Word of God as He shows me, and let the "chips fall where they may". The rest of it is His responsibility! There is no balance. It is more and more of Christ, and less and less of me...

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