Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Believe and Guard the Gospel 10.02.2016
The Righteousness of Faith

If you or I knew that we had only a short time to live, and our family was gathered around us, what would we be saying to them? We would be sharing with them of the redemption that God brought us through His Son Jesus and implore our family to keep believing and trusting in Jesus for their eternal life. We would be imploring them to keep believing the Gospel and to guard it against all enemies of it, for through the gospel we are brought to life.

This month we are remembering one of the most significant events in the history of the Christian Church: The Protestant Reformation and the life and contributions of Martin Luther (1483-1546) toward this reformation that came into the God's Church during that era. The word Protestant comes from the word protest and the term Reformation from the word reform. God's Church at that time had strayed away from the Scriptures and the time came in God's oversight of His kingdom for much needed reforms.

Why would we remember an event nearly 500 years ago? What difference does it make for us today?

All Christian congregations hold to the truth that their church exists because they are followers of Jesus Christ and they desire to continue the church that He promised to build (and has built) as it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. The impetus for continuing the church of Jesus Christ is that we as believers have received the Good News from God through Jesus Christ and we are commissioned to preach repentance unto the remission of sins in His Name. Our understanding of the church and its role cannot be understood outside of the biblical revelation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in His Life, Death and Resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. We must start there, remain there and continue there.

The biggest controversy of the time of the Reformation was concerning how one is made right with God, in other words,

How does one receive the forgiveness that God brought to mankind through the cross?

Was it by works or by faith?

Was it by faith and works?

Or was it by faith alone?

By having faith, does that mean that works aren't necessary?

These are all questions which we will consider and for which we will seek answers during this month.

As I have considered prayerfully how to procede in this month, I have been drawn to the last letter Apostle Paul ever wrote. It is one of the 12 he wrote and is different than most of the others in that this is a letter to an individual rather than to a group of people. It is the 2nd letter that he wrote to his young cooworker Timothy who was converted through Paul's ministry and is referred to as 2 Timothy.

KJV 2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

NLT 2 Timothy 1:12 And that is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

13 Hold fast the form (pattern/ of sound (free from error, true) words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep (guard, protect) by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Receive the Gospel, Guard the Gospel and later we will see the call to preach the Gospel in this letter.

We could use the mailman to illustrate of what the emphasis of Paul is. A mailman receives the mail from the post office, he guards it and delivers that which he received to the recipients. What would you think of a mailman who got tired of delivering the mail that he gets from the post office and began to write letters himself to the recipients in which he described his own life and his experiences, fears, dreams etc. It would not be long before they would call the post office and complain of not getting their mail.

This is what is being said in this last letter of Paul to his beloved brother in Christ, Timothy. You have received the Gospel, Guard it and deliver it just as it has been given to you. We need to be reminded, and maybe taught as to what this life giving Gospel is. If we do not know what it is, how can we guard it?

The following two scriptures give explanation as to what the gospel is and what is has done for all mankind.

KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

In closing, let us consider the life of the one who wrote the hymn, I know in whom I have believed.

Daniel Whittle worked as a cashier for Wells Fargo bank as a teenager and into his early twenties. He was not a wicked man at first, on the contrary, he was quiet religious. He surrendered his life to the Lord one night while acting as a night watchman at the Wells Fargo Bank. He went into the vault, got down on his knees and gave his surrendered his life for the Heavenly Father to use as he would.

He even became the Sunday School Superintendent at the great Tabernacle in Chicago where he would meet his wife, Miss Abbie Hanson. He would join the army in 1861 and be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. In the summer of 1862, August as the Civil War began to intensify his unit was called to go South. August 22, 1862, the night before his departure, he and Abbie were married. It would be a year before they would be reunited. In his own words he tells of his departure, "My dear mother was a devout Christian, and parted from me with many a tear, and followed me with many a prayer. She had placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack that she'd arranged for me"

This little New Testament would pay a vital part in his rededication.

Whittle rose to the rank of Major and while leading a charge, actually filling in, and he was wounded in his sword arm which led to the amputation of his arm and a stay in a prisoner of war camp. It was while he was in this POW camp that out of boredom he began to search for something to read. He found in his personal effects the little New Testament that his Mother had placed there. He read through the New Testament in a matter of days and started through it again.

One night the nurse woke him up and told him that one of his men was dying and had been begging for someone to pray for him. The nurse told Major Whittle that he (the nurse) was a wicked man and could not pray. Major Whittle confessed that he too was wicked man with many sins in his own life and could not pray either. The nurse said that he thought Major Whittle was a Christian because he had observed him constantly reading the Scripture and the Major Whittle did not cuss as the other men. The nurse begged Major Whittle to at least accompany him to see the boy as he did not want to return alone. Moved with compassion, Major Whittle reluctantly agreed.

Here, in Major Whittle's own words, is what took place that night: "I dropped on my knees and held the boy's hand in mine. In a few broken words I confessed my sins and asked Christ to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me. I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet and pressed my hand as I prayed and pleaded God's promises. When I arose from my knees, he was dead. A look of peace had come over his troubled face, and I cannot but believe that God who used him to bring me to the Savior, used me to lead him to trust Christ's precious blood and find pardon. I hope to meet him in heaven."

Below are the words of the hymn that he wrote: Please note how he wrote "I know not" in each of the four verses, which expresses wonder at the workings of God. But he powerfully declared €œI know Whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able, To keep that which I€™ve committed, Unto Him against that day.€

I know not why God€™s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But €œI know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I€™ve committed
Unto Him against that day.€

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

Posted on 02 Oct 2016 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns