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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

KEEPING THE FAITH?

The Apostle said three things in II Timothy 4:1-8.  First, "I have fought a good fight." Second, "I have finished my course." Third, "I have kept the faith." Notice those five little words, "I have kept the faith." 

Percentage wise there are very few men of God who stay true to their youthful convictions for the span of their lives.  Very few are the men who go through the entirety of a lifetime and stay true to the convictions of their youth to the doctrines of their youth.  Then their children grow up and they decide to not allow their children to face the stigma of a fundamental Bible position.

Growing older causes some to become weary and tired.  They want to be more beloved in their older days.  Very few stay true to their youthful conviction and doctrine all their lives.

Look at Paul!  He is an old man now!  He is dying!  He rejoices in three things as he hears the footsteps of those who are coming to execute him.  First, he rejoices in the fact that he has fought a good fight.  Second, he rejoices in the fact that he has finished his course. Third, he rejoices in the fact that he has kept the faith.  

The faith is a package and Paul delivered that package to the next generation without anything missing.  In essence, he is saying that he never let go of the faith.  As a young man with his boyish face and his bright eyes, he kept the faith.  As a mature man with his romance of life and love, he kept the faith.  As a middle-aged man ruling his small empire, he kept the faith. As an old man with his palsied hands and unsure steps, he kept the faith.

Now, as a dying man with his fleeting breath, he keeps the faith.  He says, "Through all of these years from youth to now I have grabbed the faith and I have kept the faith as a complete package."

The truth is it is not always easy to keep the faith.  It becomes harder as one grows older.  You love more deeply and desire to offend less.  Age makes it harder to keep the faith.  Your logic improves and it is easily captured by your vanity, which makes it harder to keep the faith.  Trials multiply and tempt you to doubt, making it harder to keep the faith.  You feel less secure and wonder more about your financial future as you grow older and it becomes harder to keep the faith.

However, the old Apostle states that not only have "I fought a good fight," "finished my course," but "I have kept the faith" in the fight till the finish.  He has held the faith in smooth young hands.  He has held the faith in strong sturdy hands.  Now, he holds the faith in dying failing hands, but he has kept the faith.  He has seen others fall by the wayside.  He remembers young John Mark, Barnabas, Demas, and others.  Yet, the old man of God says, "I have kept the faith."

The question then must be answered "What is the faith?"  The faith is the great body of truth that he believed, bound together by unity of purpose.  The faith is not just salvation.  The faith is the virgin birth that includes the perfect sinless life of Christ, the vicarious death of Christ, the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the plenary inspiration of the Bible, the bodily resurrection of our Lord, the high priesthood of Christ seated at the right hand of God the Father, the second coming of Christ, His premillennial coming, baptism by immersion, local church, and the propagation of the Gospel.

The faith includes a life of separation from sin, from apostasy, from modernism, from worldliness, and walking circumspectly in the world.  The faith includes the whole body of truth bound together by a unity of purpose.

"The faith," not just faith, but the faith is a package of truths bound together.  Paul said everything that was handed to me as a young man, when God called me has been kept just like it was given in the first place.  Now Paul is dying and he reminds us that he not only has fought a good fight, not only finished his course, but he has in the mean time kept the faith while fighting and finishing.  So, what was it in that package of faith that he kept?

HE KEPT THE FAITH INTACT

He kept the faith intact by not adding to the faith, improving the faith, subtracting from the faith, or refining the faith.  He did not say, "I have printed a new Bible to tell the faith."  He said, "I have kept the faith."  He held the same faith as it was given to him.

He did not mix it with Mormonism, Jehovah (false) Witnesses, Moonies, Catholics, the ministerial association, the National Council of Churches, Charismatics, Easter sunrise service crowd, Emerging Church heresy, Warrenites, or the Thanksgiving service with the Mother of Harlots' representatives of his day.

In essence Paul said, "I have kept the faith." I have guarded the faith, by keeping the faith intact!  There is no new doctrine we need to learn to add.  You may need to adorn the old, but there is no need for a new doctrine or new methods to propagate the old doctrine.  

We do not need Peter, Paul, and Mary look a likes appearing as "Worship Teams" on our church platforms. I saw a video the other day of a Hyles-Anderson College graduate pastor who employed this in his church.  One of the 6 singers was a rather plump young lady in a mini skirt.  She kept tugging at her mini skirt to pull it down.  I wondered why?  If it is ok then why tug at it to make it longer? By the way the music was horrible!

Yet, some of our larger churches are slowly introducing these "Worship teams" and "choruses."  The result is a watered down church experience in an attempt to introduce public worship, which is NOT found in the Scriptures. They are falling prey to the Rick Warren approach of the seeker service. The reason is there is no HOLY SPIRIT POWER so there must be a different spirit power to draw the people.  What a shame!  I would wager that Lee Roberson, Dallas Billington, G. B. Vick, J. Frank Norris, Lester Roloff, Curtis Hutson, Jack Hyles, etc., are all weeping in Heaven!

Oral Roberts did not receive a new revelation.  Neither did Kenneth Copeland, or Jim Baker, or Pat Roberson.  The Holy Scriptures were once delivered to the saints and not twice delivered.  It has been revealed to man in the Word, and nobody can add to it nor take away form it and expect God to bless it.  Paul kept the faith intact.

Paul was an old man and about to die.  He was once a young preacher, once a middle-aged preacher, once an old preacher, and now a dying preacher, but he says, "I have kept the faith" by keeping it intact.

HE KEPT THE FAITH IN ORDER

Friendship, love, marriage, sex, and then children is the right Bible order.  Salvation, baptism, church membership, and the Lord's Supper is the right Bible order.  Education, maturity, and then marriage is the right order.  Work, money, and buy are the right order.  Education, preparation, and life's work is the right order.  

Paul is saying that he kept the faith in its proper priority.  He did not run off on one subject at the expense of the whole package of faith.  He did not preach Sunday morning and Sunday night for three years on prophecy and cause faith to be out of its proper order.

Paul won folks to Christ, baptized them, organized a local church, and then trained them to do the same thing.  He did not go off on some tangent.  He didn't go into Hyper-Calvinism or John Macarthurism, or Rick Warrenism, or Bill Hybleism, John Piperism, or Stephen Olfordism style of preaching, or wonder off into Lordship Salvation of his day.  

He kept the faith in order.  He kept the faith in right priority. He did not fall or follow every new fad of his day that came along.  He was once given the faith and he kept it intact and in order.

We are not to learn truth to teach it to others; rather we are here to obey truth by spreading it to others.  Paul did not add to it nor did he subtract from it.  I am against abortion, but I am not for spending my life fighting abortion.  I am to put it in its proper perspective.  If I will spend my life spreading the message of redeeming grace, I can to more to stop abortions.  "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."  "The son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." That is to be foremost, primary, and first.

HE KEPT THE FAITH IN MOTION

Paul kept on telling it, spreading it, and thus kept the faith in motion.  He kept the faith intact, in order, and in motion.  Paul says in essence...

"I believed the virgin birth years ago when I was saved, I believed the perfect sinless life of Christ was true when I was saved, I believed the vicarious death of Jesus was true years ago when I was saved, I believed in the bodily resurrection of Christ years ago when I was saved, I believed in the ascension of the high priest to the throne of God years ago when I was saved, I believed that Jesus was coming again years ago when I was saved,  I believed in Heaven that has streets of gold years ago when I was saved, I believed in a real Hell years ago when I was saved, I believed in once saved always saved years ago when I was saved, I believed in the local church years ago when I was saved, I believed I held in my had a copy of the preserved inspired Holy Scriptures years ago when I was saved, I believed in a separated life both morally and spiritually years ago when I was saved, I believed in spiritual hymns years ago when I was saved, and I still believe it.  I have kept the faith intact, in order, and in motion."

Paul did not let every new wind of doctrine sway him or move him and let the world go to Hell on his watch.  Academics did not have to validate him or his ministry.  I believe in learning the Bible, but I believe in practicing what I learn.  

It would be better to be an ignorant nut on a street corner preaching the Gospel than a Greek or Hebrew scholar sitting behind a desk in a dead college somewhere putting question marks on the Holy Scriptures.  I am tired of these liberal radio preachers making fun of personal soul winning.   These self-styled pseudo-fundamentalist who do not mind letting our converts; led to the Lord by personal soul winners, baptized in our churches, educated in our colleges, join their movement.  They steal our sheep, while preaching against the very truth of personal soul winning which resulted in their salvation in the first place.

Paul did not become side-tracked and call soul winning "easy believism" or "plucking green fruit."  Paul did not promote anything, but what was given to him in the first place.  He did not exchange Holy Spirit power for the current music of his day as a draw.  He did not exchange modest dress for an early contemporary dress service.  He did not join the questioning of  and identifying what was correct stylistic styles of preaching of his day, but simply preached Bible messages. He did not attempt to bring God down to man, but battled to bring man up to God.  When in Rome he did not do as the Romans did for he refused to be side-tracked.

The preachers of Paul's day who said you can not win a soul to Christ in one conversation were ignored by Paul.  He no doubt would answer with, "How about the thief on the cross? How about the woman at the well?  How about the Philippian jailor? How about Zacheaeus?"

Paul said I have kept the faith when I was young and throughout my years of living.  I have the same faith now that I am dying that I had when I was young.  Paul was as red hot as an old man of God as he was when he was a young man of God.  

Someone said to me as a young preacher, "When you get older you'll settle down and not be as wild in the pulpit.  You'll calm down when you get older."  NO!  You calm down when you become colder not older.  No one calms down when you become ahead; you calm down when you become dead!

GOTTA LOVE THE OLD TIME RELIGION!

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