Pastor Shepard's most recent Sermon

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rightly dividing the word of truth / Beware of spiritual imbalance

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2Timothy 2:15)

The divine goal and objective in the minister's studying of God's Word is to "shew himself approved (not unto men, but) unto God." This great task is given unto all those whom God has graciously called into the service of preaching the Gospel of His dear Son Jesus Christ. Of such a high calling no man is worthy or sufficient of himself. It is purely by the infinite grace of God that He would call any man unto such a high service. To this high calling we are ever indebted and shall one day be held greatly accountable for how we sought to humbly fulfill this divine appointment. The divine truths we preach are not our own; we are not to alter, change, add or corrupt the truths of God's Word entrusted unto us. But, we are to boldly, humbly and faithfully proclaim those divine truths as revealed in Scripture. And how to "rightly divide" those truths are an essential and vital part in our seeking God's approval as we study His truths.It is "the whole counsel of God" we must proclaim.

I say that for there are many divine truths in God's Word which have been neglected or ignored in this present age of spiritual imbalance amongst believers. Many today, in their blind zeal to defend certain dogmatic convictions, are guilty of neglecting the "whole counsel of God' and therefore ignorantly ignore or neglect other divine truths of equal or greater value and significance for God's people. Many of God's people today are quick to cry out against the perils of these last days, yet, consistently rally around only certain divine truths in their contending for the faith. Something which is of itself a noble and commendable cause. Yet, this causes a great imbalance in our contending for the faith and is something even our adversary readily supports and encourages.

To possess a burning and fervent zeal for God's truths is vital to our contending for the faith, yet, such divine contending must be done by our rightly dividing the truth; otherwise we fall in danger of becoming blind and oblivious to the importance and significance of other divine truths. This great spiritual imbalance has also led to many divisions and schisms amongst the ranks of God's children. While many boldly profess to be faithfully and fervently proclaiming the truths of God, yet, if that proclamation is driven by a spirit of malice, anger, or self-righteous indignation then the message will be tainted and dishonoring to the cause of Christ. Christ is as much, if not more, concerned about the "vessel" proclaiming His message as the message itself. He will not be dishonored by a unclean or self driven messenger. Our "approval" for such a divine service must not come from men, but from God. And the manner, spirit and life of His divinely appointed messenger is of great importance to Him.

There are times when certain divine truths are more relevant for the moment then others, but that doesn't mean we ignore and neglect the seemingly less relevant ones (which there are no irrelevant truths of God). For this is one of our adversary's greatest deceptions, namely an imbalance in our proclaiming the whole counsel of God. God grant us all much grace and mercy as we seek as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ not to be imbalanced when it comes to proclaiming or rightly dividing the word of truth.

I will be examining certain texts over the next few months, as way of example, which I believe have been greatly neglected or ignored by many pulpits. This is not a blanket statement against all churches or pulpits. There are certainly many churches and ministers out there who strive every week to faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God and to rightly divide the word of truth. But this is a great danger which we must all be reminded of.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Are we contending for the faith, or merely being contentious

I fear many believers today, especially those who are yet young and unlearned in the things of Christ, are confused between "contending for the faith," and merely being "contentious." With the coming of these latter days we shall see perilous times (2 Tim 3), and with those perils the increase of false teachers, false doctrine and scoffers. Many shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables (2Tim.4). And some shall even depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of Devils (1Tim.4). These shall be very perilous times and requires a faith, courage and strength not of our own. To trust in the flesh or in the power of our own strength, shall certainly lead to our own spiritual demise and ruin. This is one major reason why the Apostle Paul, when speaking of the office of a bishop (pastor), warns the novice (beginner, new to the faith) against seeking such an office. For he is in danger of "being lifted up with pride and falling into the condemnation of the devil (1 Tim.3)." And yet, the danger of being lifted up with pride is not limited to the novice. Many older and more learned believers are also in danger of being lifted up by their own pride. Pride of their knowledge of God, or the spiritual insight God has graciously granted them. Pride of years or knowledge of scripture truths.
Satan is a master of disguises and unequal in his ability to deceive and trick even the oldest saint. If the man after God's own heart was not spared (David), nor the strongest man alive (Samson) no match for Satan's evil devices, then surely, to be "sober minded, watchful and praying" is a duty which every true believer must be vigilant in. Being prideful of possessing certain knowledge of God's truths can be just as detrimental and destructive as ignorance of God's truths. The believer must ever strive to maintain a humble and contrite spirit when approaching (but especially in declaring) God's divine truths. God's truths in the mouth of a prideful man is more Satan's advocate than his adversary.

"Who is sufficient for these things? Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given." (2 Cor. 2:16 / Eph.3:8)

Herein lies the true spirit which must accompany the knowledge of God. For,"its upon this man God looks, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at God's Word" (Isa.66:2). And it is the Spirit of God who is the author of this humble and contrite spirit. The courage and boldness we must possess to proclaim God's truths in a world that lieth in wickedness, is not of our own. But, must be drawn from the "strength of the Lord and the power of His might (Eph.6)." God's truths proclaimed in boldness by a vessel of humility and meekness is the greatest weapon against error, false doctrines and Satan's wiles.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

May God grant wisdom and grace, as "earthen vessels," that we might "boldly" Proclaim the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ!