"Not in eloquence of speech…"

writes Paul in the Corinthian Correspondence. So it was with me today. The eloquence is always debatable, but I sure didn’t have much volume today. And what I had was scratchy, squeaky and, I’m sure, unpleasant-to-the-ear.

Class: Genesis 12 (again) in what might be a loooong study of Genesis
AM sermon: 1 Timothy 1.12-17
PM sermon: 2 Timothy 1.3-7

I’ve not preached from either Timothy that I can immediately recall. Don’t ask why, seems like they have fallen through the cracks. So in Mike’s absence (he is in Philly for SBL/AAR meeting) I took two texts from Paul, wherein he expresses thanks, and tried to bring to the surface the salient issue for the life of the Family of God at Central.

In 1 Timothy he is grateful for the act of God in Christ: good news! Christ has come into the world to save sinners! And what’s more, I am a living example of the patience of God in Christ! I took the church through the thanksgiving by isolating the grand fact of the text: God has acted in Christ and Paul, as sinner par excellance, has experienced his transforming grace. What is striking about this is that this is such good news! From there I stressed that the text also challenges those of us who have experienced the grace of God to partner with God in his great example-making experiment in our lives. God is at work in us to make us examples of his transformative, redemptive grace! Good news! From there I closed with an exhortation that if the church is to be a truly redemptive presence in our world we must be forthright and own up to the fact that none of us, individually or corporately as church, has it all together. Every last one of us is messed up: chief sinners! And from there our task is to speak the good news of the gospel and not condemnation. Our task is to witness to the grace of God for sinners like us. Too often churches lead with condemnation. Churches should never lead with condemnation, after all, God didn’t! He led with grace, and that super-abundantly! Good news, friends, good news!

In the PM I started with Paul’s gratitude for Timothy’s sincere faith and asked the church to think of the Lois’ and the Eunice’s in their own lives. Just like Timothy was led to faith by Paul and by his mother and grandmother, so we have been led to faith by someone. Think of those people and be grateful for them and their influence. Now, as Paul instructs Timothy, fan the flames of faith and discipleship! Do not rest on the laurels of faith past, but keep alert for the fight of faith in the present moment. By the grace of God we do not fight this fight alone or ill-equipped. He has not outfitted us with fear, but by his Spirit he has given us power, love and self-discipline. Fan these gifts! These are gifts of the Spirit: God can well take care of his church. Be encouraged by the great people who have shaped our faith, and be encouraged that God partners with us in transforming us into his image and shaping his church!

Grace and peace.

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