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February 1, 2021 1:00 am
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness for the Lord God is a sun and shield the Lord bestows favor and honor no good thing to see withhold from those who walk up rightly, Lord of hosts. Blessed is the one trusting you spray father, we thank you for this chance to come together as your people again the end of this Lord's day and worship you, we invite your presence. Now we pray that that presence would be made manifest among us as we sing hymns and songs of worship and praise to you as we hear your word, proclaim from this pulpit as we speak to you in prayer as we take valves before you may all of this be to your honor and glory. May it bring your people joy and build us up and equip us for the tasks to which you have called us in this world, father, son and Holy Spirit. We welcome you now in this place and it is in Jesus name we pray.
Amen. To begin with this wonderful hymn of the faith. The hymn of the Reformation paraphrase of Psalm 46 a mighty Fortress is our God, a bulwark, a shield of Fortress never failing with Ingram will will will will will will will all will and will will is on all all on if you would second Timothy chapter 4 verses 60 late this evening. I'm now ready to be offered the time of my departure is at hand.
I found a good fight, I finished my course, I have kept the faith and for there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge of give me at that day and not to be only burned all them also that love his appearing spray heavenly father, we thank you and praise you for loving us. We thank you and praise you for sending Jesus to die for us, for we are undeserving sinners, we thank you Lord for the call you have on Steve McCullough's life. Thank you Lord for bringing him to grace, leaving him in our direction. Father nine is a new start for him. We pray heavenly father that you would use this night in a special way in his life he might be encouraged in the ministry to forge ahead and be everything that you have called him to be.
As a pastor I pray Lord that you are keeping close to your heart.
I pray heavenly father that you would help him to walk in your past to walk holy before you. I pray heavenly father that you would help them not only with his congregation, but with his family. That is a family man. He might bring honor and glory to you as well as his pastor got us and direct us to this passage tonight. May Jesus be uplifted and exalted through it and made this congregation beatified by its in Jesus holy and precious name we pray.
Amen. You may be seated. Stay tonight. You are being ordained into the gospel ministry.
Everything is fresh everything is new, everything is just getting started. But let me remind you of this in the blink of an eye, it's can all be over with. I been pastoring now for 43 years and it seemed like as I was ordained yesterday, so in the light of that, what I want you to do tonight is I want you to think ahead about 45 or 50 years into the future and ask yourself what's my story going to be what will be my ministerial testimony 45 or 50 years from now. Tonight were looking at second Timothy chapter 4 and what we have in this passage is the ministerial testimony of the apostle Paul. This was the last letter that Paul wrote in there are a lot of scholars who believe that Paul actually finish this letter on the day that he died he wrote it from a place called the Maritime prison. It was a prison that was set aside for condemned criminals who were awaiting their execution.
It was a horrible place. It was a place with the sales were so small that you couldn't stretch yourself out but you had to kinda curl yourself around the walls. There were no bathroom facilities so the floor and the walls were just covered with filth and stanch the rats in the vermin ran wild were no windows in it. There were no doors and if the only opening was a hole in the ceiling with a Lord the prisoner down to the use of road if a man was a prisoner and he was good. Do any reading or writing. He couldn't do it at night because it was no light.
The only time he could do it was when a little bit light would shine down to the hole in the top of the ceiling and he positioned himself under that whole. This was the home for the apostle Paul in the last few months of his life. I want you to picture him they are.
If you can for just a moment, polish the end and weak and emaciated. He's an old man about this time, his body is absolutely covered with with scars scars from his beatings and his floggings and Estonians so sitting there in the Maritime prison in this sale is got his pen in his hand and a niece thinking about what's going to happen to him.
He knows that execution is coming that he is going to die. So he thinks back to his life as a Christian, and then he thinks ahead to is soon coming death, and he writes out what I would call the ministerial testimony.
What I would call the spiritual obituary whose rewriting it to his writing specifically to his understudy Timothy. Timothy is a man who loves very much. They have a father son type relationship. So this is Paul's testimony. I've got two points that I want to share with you this evening. First of all, the review and then second, I was to look at his reward. First of all, the review we see that in verse seven, five father, good fight, I finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Paul looks back over his Christian life, and he describes it in three ways. First of all, he says that he thought as a warrior.
He says I have thought a good fight. When Paul describes his Christian life.
He describes it as a fight not a frolic. He describes it as a cross, not a cushion that shouldn't surprise us. Jesus told us about the same thing that Jesus, if any man be my disciple, let him deny himself and take his cross daily and follow me. Jesus told us of the Christian life would not be easy, that it would be tough. You study Paul's life and it's absolutely amazing to to come to an understanding of the hardships this man had to endure. He was beaten hundred 95 flashes across his bare back. Hey, he was shipwrecked and left in the ocean for 36 hours. He was stoned and left for dead dead when he went into a town PA did ask around to find that where the hotels were just asked for the jail was because he knew that that's what was cut. That's what was coming for he knew things were going to be tough. If anybody ever had a right to say I have thought a good fight. The apostle Paul had that right to say it all looked at the Christian life is a fight or that's not what Christianity is, is described as today is it today you got preachers that are telling about you come to Jesus and everything's going to be easier.
Everything's going to be great brothers and sisters. I want you to know that that's not true. Sometimes it gets very, very tough.
Now if you come to be a Christian then you can have peace in your joy and you can have assurance of salvation. Let me tell you something this life as a Christian is the absolute war and the culture that we are living in right now. Persecutions coming and things are going to get tougher and tougher apostle Paul said that all we live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
It was Peter who said beloved. Think it not strange.
When these fiery trials come upon you is if some strange thing is happened to you, but rejoice in that you were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake, Paul said, I have followed a good find of the day that he met Jesus on the Damascus Road until the day that he died, he stood toe to toe battle with Satan every single day.
Secondly, Paul said that he finished as an athlete. He said I finished my course, as Paul writes the conclusion of this letter he thinks back 35 years before the date of the Lord Jesus stepped out in front of him on the Damascus Road and Paul asking the question should Lord what would you have me to do it inside Lord, what would you have others to do a Lord, what would the others have me to do the Lord, what would you have me to do and Jesus put them on a course he put them on a course he called him to be the apostle to the Gentiles is Apollo. If you take the gospel to the Gentile world and Paul got on that course and once he got on that course. All the demons inhale, not stopping octave Paul can see some of our modern-day Christian to gripe about everything that happens is they don't like Google get frustrated with some something that takes place at hey just want to quit and give up. Are you getting get their feelings hurt. Just want to quit. Paul would have a fit. He saw what was going on the day. What is the best motivation for not quitting for finishing the race for put your hand in the pile and for genome. I believe this is a great greatest motivation. I think the greatest motivation is this the come to this understanding that it will be worth it all.
When we see Jesus.
Let me illustrate this before I went the ministry I workforce I said aggressors mutual in the meat division and we had a guy that would come by about once a week to buy supplies he he was working at a slaughterhouse in one week he came by and he said I guess I will be by here anymore and quit my job so far you quit your job. He said well I'm quit my job because our company started a new policy is that we always had a policy there. My company of just killing cows and pigs said it was my responsibility to stand at the end of this long sheet and said they would send the cows and the pigs down to me.
One of the time to the cows and the pigs would come about halfway down that chute late since the danger and they start fighting and biting and scratching and doing whatever they could to get away is, and finally they get them to me and said it was such a fight I just take the head of that cow or the pig. I pull it up I take my short life I'd slit their throat send them to the next station and he said it never bothered me all said and think anything about it. He said last week we start a new policy of killing lambs and he said that first little lamb came walking down to me and he said he never bleated. He never tried to get away never fault never tried to bite nothing. He said he just walked right up to me and said looked up at me with these big tender brown eyes.
He said I reached down I took his little John, my Hannah lifted his jaw up and he said I took my short knife and I slit his throat. He said still that lamb didn't delete it and fussy didn't fight and try to get away nothing and he said I ho I held his little jaw in my hand and said that life blood was gushing forth out of that open wound and he said I want to little lamb and his eyes got weaker and weaker and weaker and then right before he breathed his last breath. He reached over and licked my hand and died. He said after that I had to quit my job because I knew I could never do that again as soon as he shared that story with me.
All I could think about was Jesus.
For in Isaiah chapter 53, Isaiah is prophesying the crucifixion of Christ, and he said that when Jesus would come, he would be as a lamb led to the slaughter, and yet he would open his mouth, but it's the best reason to finish the race to live out the Christian life is to come to an understanding of what Jesus Christ has done for you on the cross that Jesus died on the cross and if he loved us that deeply, and how can we not serving Paul thought back of his life and said, Lord, I finished my course, he said, Lord, they quit me. I kept going. Lord, they beat me. I kept going.
Lord, they flog me.
I kept going, come hell or high water would not quit. Thirdly, Paul said he was faithful as a steward. He said I've kept the faith there in that prison sailors he was pretty preparing for death, Paul was able to say I've been faithful to Jesus. I've lived a holy life. I preach the whole counsel of God.
I was not swayed by the religious folks I was not swayed by the pagans. I've been faithful to Jesus and to his word. It's time for the men of God in this country to quit worrying about trying to please political leaders and backslidden Christians just get worried about pleasing God looks. Paul said he was faithful as a steward all right. Lastly, Paul looks in the future and he sees his reward. Verse eight says this henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and not to me only, and all them also who love his appearing want you for a just a minute if you will still use a little bit a sanctified imagination. Just imagine that you're watching the apostle Paul. He is in the maritime prison. His pen is in his hand. He is finishing up this last letter that he whatever right letter that we call second Timothy is writing that letter is just finished it up. He rolls the scroll up and hear some noise up above him. He realizes that noise is the executioner who is who is just sharpening his lethal acts in a moment he sees a shadow over the whole that was at the top of his jail sale.
He looks up and there's the guard with the road. The guards of polymer lower this right down to you and you taken tied around your waist number lift you up is time for you to go and so Paul ties the rope around his waist. The guard lifts him up out of the hole and they take off together walking to go out of the gate out of the prison. I want you to think about the contrast layer hears this executioner's Big East out strong is tough, hears Paul. He's old stand and wait and emaciated. His hair is gray, matted as I walk out the gate. His eyes were squinting for the light so bright he hasn't seen the sun in several months.
I walk together to the bank of the Tiber River that river that will drink Paul's blood when his head is severed from his body and is there walking the guard turns rental policies. Paul was that noise you make it. Are you singing in pulses. Yes, it's a little song that we that we sing at our church. It will be worth it all. When we see Jesus. I get down to the Tiber River's bank and there is a chopping block in the executioner takes Paul.
He pushes him down on his days.
He says Paul we always give our our prisoners an opportunity to make a final statement is anything you'd like to say apostle here. One thing is is what is it this is Jesus Christ is Lord executioner takes Paul's head and he pushes it down on the chopping block. He takes his acts in the lethal acts and he lifted up over his head and then with one swing show that acts flies through the air. Paul's head is severed from his body. The next scene is glory. Second Corinthians 58 says, for the Christian to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord we don't know exactly what happened at that time but I think I know. I believe that Paul looked up and he saw King Jesus and all of his glory and he said to the Lord, Lord, I know that I wasn't big and and I know that I stammered when I talked and I wasn't much to look at. I made a lot of mistakes. Lord, I thought a good find. I finished my course, I kept the faith.
We don't know exactly what happened there but I think on the ability Jesus stepped off the throne and he said to Paul, well done my good and faithful servant Internet onto the joy, the Lord in any respect. Behind them, and any behind the throne. He took out something in his hands that was shining glittering like the noonday sun was a crown, a crown of righteousness, and I can see Jesus as he walks over to Paul Paul's on his knees and he takes that crown very gingerly, places it on the head of the apostle Paul. We don't know exactly what happened them, but I think I know I can sleep all just crying just tears of great joy and peace in he is crying and then all of a sudden he reaches up and he pulls that crown off of his head. He looks at it for just a moment and then he gets up and he walks over to Jesus and he kneels down before him and he takes that crown and he lays it at the feet of Jesus. An act of pure unadulterated worship and and Paul's thinking about Olea's and he looks over at Jesus and he said Lord. This was the most beautiful, most glorious thing I've ever seen. Lord, I can keep this for you and you alone are worthy. You are worthy Lord. It was your blood that purchased my salvation and washed away my sins. It was your sovereign grace that rescued me from an eternal hail and it was your spirit that changed my heart and brought me into the family of God. Oh Lord, take my worship I want to give this to you in joyful worship. Steve I don't know about you but that's what I want I want crown not aware of my head not to show off to my friends to lay it at the feet of Jesus and active unadulterated worship. Steve preached the word the instant in season and out of season come to the end of your ministry and be able say I fought a good fight, I finished my course of kept the faith. And I promise you this, it will be worth it all.
When you see Jesus you stand again with me as we sang together.
The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord. There is one head of the church and he has many under shepherds. Many ruling elders teaching elders and deacons servants, but there is only one head and he is the Lord Jesus Christ would sing to him the laws and on and on my name and on all on and all will see soon all the all see you all will be on all and you can be seated better into our time of ordination now and this is a worship service.
It is also a business meeting and the Catawba Valley Presbytery has appointed a commission of six teaching elders and ruling elders to oversee the proceedings tonight and so were asking each one of those members of the commission to a part in the service so you'll see a number of guys come up here and we do have one gas is introduce him to Jeff Levinson is from Stonebridge is ruling out on the session at Stonebridge and Charlotte. We welcome you. Glad to have you part of this. This commission so I'm going to turn it over to Scott Starcher to begin our proceedings with prayer Jeff, I'm asked to prayer.
Prayer blessing for you and Steve excuse me, when I read the qualifications in first Timothy three. I look over and see that an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one box wife, sober minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, and able to teach or not you read. No wonder the these qualifications when I think of use.
A young man you all often told Nancy said you're mature beyond her years, and to be a pastor you're going to have to be mature beyond her years for the challenges it will come and some of these challenges will actually be blessings to you in the long run and they will be tough lessons but still be a lesson to show mature from and be able to minister going forward and looking to those to mature. You even further and grow you as a disciple of Christ Cisco Lord in prayer. Gracious and heavenly father. Although we come to you tonight to pray for Steve and Rachel.
The are married and coupling coming to Steve is coming as a teaching elder and Lord, we just ask that you would bless them strengthen their marriages. They go through this.
Help them to grow and mature through the lessons. I will learn through life as a pastor in a pastor's wife you've equipped Steve well Lord just undergird them and strengthen them. Let them spend time in your word and praying through the situations arise.
Lord, bless them through those situations.
May the love of the congregation undergird them and encourage them may the love of the session, the teaching elders and the ruling elders uplift Steve, just keep him, strengthen him and prepare him father Lord you have raised up this young man to to serve you and though we just ask that you would continue his so his growth be with Rachel strengthen her. We praise your further the birth of her son, Robert, Samuel and help help Steve to be a great father be a great husband and a great servant of Christ Lord just blessing in this ministry. We give all thanks to you and we praise you in Christ name a man Steve him and ask if you come up, stand right here so this is a entry part of the service of the house and we know that in general the Scripture says, pretty clear, but your yes be yes and your no be no. And don't really take a lot of out so this is a very solemn occasion and interesting enough. I am an elder is been set at Stonebridge church and so we bring you greetings just down the road.
Peace. But the main reason about peers because I'm on what's called the Presbytery credentials committee and I've served on the credentials committee for different ones for about 20 or 30 years. Cut a long time and one of the things that you know some of you may not be aware is when these young men are anybody, but in particular here. These young men come before the committee.
There is a tremendous amount of of testing that we do really helping to to demonstrate they have Dems request that their workmen approved to do the work of the gospel ministry and the exams will will cover Bible theology, church of the book of Church order the sacraments and and other things as well and so they spend years studying MMA come before committee for an hour or two hours a 3 Hour Dr. along the exam takes and it's very grueling and one of the things that that that Steve has proven a by doing it is that he is very serious and has worked extremely hard to get to this point and he is to be commended and mom and dad should be very proud of him. That's very it is not. She will tell you it is not an easy process at all. We try to make it as warm and friendly as possible. I think the fact that Steve is been gracious enough to invite one of us is good.
You asked me to walk 2 miles if you know I'm up for that specific that's a readjusting development but I'm very happy to be here and and I'll just say mom and dad should be proud and this the session of grace and all of you support him. He did a wonderful job and and really presented himself as a workmen approved so the Mets good and it's not easy.
So Steve, let me ask you these questions. These vows and you will say I do if your firm them and I'm one of those weird people that whenever I listen to valves. A lot of them are very relevant to us as you hear them you know some of the richness of how God is engaged us in what he's left us with terms of his word and other things. They're very meaningful to the particularly meaningful obviously to Steve but as I say them. Think about them.
Maybe in your own heart and and reflect on see the first one is you believe the Scriptures of the old and new Testaments as originally given to be the inerrant word of God. The only infallible rule of faith and practice. You sincerely receive and adopt the confession of faith and the catechism of the church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the holy Scriptures of you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery. The changes taking place in your views since the assumption of this ordination about your proof of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity.
Your promise objection to your brethren in the Lord have you been induced as far as you know your own heart to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and his sincere desire to promote his glory and the gospel. If his son you promise to be zealous and faithful and maintain the truth of the gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the church.
Whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account you engaged to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and minister of the gospel, whether personal or relational private or public into evidence by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your manner of life to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer to the session of Grace Church Alaska if you all would stand. I have some questions and would you answer we do. Do you the session of Grace Church continue to refresh your readiness to receive Steve McCullough as an assistant pastor at Grace Church. You promise to receive the word of truth from his mouth with meekness and love. You promise to encourage him in his labors and to assist his endeavors.
For your instruction and spiritual edification you engaged to continue to him while he was her assistant pastor that competent whirling maintenance with your promise and to furnish him with whatever you may see needful for the honor of religion first comfort among you thinking maybe seated Eugene, would you come up Patrick at Wendy's.
Can you hear me laying on of hands is an interesting biblical tradition, custom, and I just want to say a quick word about that before we proceed. There's nothing magical is nothing sacramental about this laying on of hands a call to ministry involves two parts.
First of all there's an internal call of the individual at some point in Steve's life he discerned within himself desire a draw to the ministry and he began to take steps for to pursue that call to ministry, but that in and of itself is not a full call to the ministry that internal sense of calling from the Lord needs to also be accompanied by an external call an external recognition by the church that this man indeed does possess the qualifications and the gift things to fulfill a call to ministry in a day and age when self-appointed pastors are rampant. I'm grateful for denomination that requires both this internal sense of call, as well as an external recognition by the church that a man is duly called by the Lord and so this laying on of hands is is a public acknowledgment on the part of the church that Steve McCullough is set apart for ministry. Because we have observed in him the qualifications and the gifting's for that for that position. We were to do this tonight him and asked Stephen just a moment to kneel down on the floor for the communion table and I may invite any ordained pastor ruling elder teaching elder, active or inactive in the PCA or in some other evangelical denomination, you're invited to Tecumseh, not just the session not just this commission. I was looking out across the accommodations not John Jackson day man in ARP.
You're welcome to come. Eric Hampton ruling elder in the PCA Larry Oldham ordained in the southern Baptist convention. There may be others that I'm overlooking. If you ordained, you're welcome to come and and lay hands on Steve and pray for him.
As we the church acknowledge this man bears the qualifications and the gifting's to fulfill this call to which he's being set apart tonight stealing ask you to go and kneel ask your elders to come and line up here and will just one by one, lay hands on our brother Stephen pray for Stevenson I have a pronouncement from Central Carolina Presbytery may face I now pronounce and declare that Steve McCullough has been regularly elected, ordained and installed as an assistant pastor of this congregation agreeable to the word of God and according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America, and that SNC is entitled to all support, encouragement, honor and obedience in the Lord in the name of the father the son and the Holy Spirit.
Amen elders commission members, and given the right hand of fellowship stating be seated and enter into a time of giving charges from Scripture when a charge Steve Hannon would ask Jay Chris start a common charge to to the church to the session. Grace knew the end of his life.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter from prison to a young pastor who needed encouragement and instruction as he fulfill God's call on his life to be a pastor in the church. Of course, that young pastor's name was Timothy.
We just read part of that letter as Doug preach from second Timothy tonight and see my charge to you not come from second Timothy chapter 2 verses eight through 10.
Paul says this. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal with the word of God is not bound.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. I want to follow Paul's logic through this passage. Working backwards, so again if you want to follow along with me were in second Timothy chapter 2 verses eight through 10. So first notice at the end results of these verses is the salvation of the elect. That's where it builds to that's where it ends. That's profound the salvation of the elect.
Whatever it is that Paul is saying here. It culminates in the salvation of the church.
Now of course Paul is addressing Timothy of first-generation officer in the church. But this charge that he lays before the officers of this church hasn't changed. Steve, your pursuit, your objective as a teaching elder in the church is the salvation of those whom Christ came to save. That is the objective of your call to ministry.
So how is it that you were to go about pursuing that objective. Backing up one thought pal Paul tells us, we pursue that objective by enduring everything for the sake of the elect and that's a loaded statement enduring everything for the sake of the elect. The word endure suggests that there is a burden to bear.
There is something heavy to carry. There were things to be endured. I don't know what specific things you will have to bear in carrying out your calling, but I know the kinds of things you'll have to endure. You'll have to endure some measure of encroachment upon your time and energy. You'll have to bear the burden of of knowing about in dealing with secret sins and people's lives. You have to carry the weight of being responsible for decisions that affect the spiritual well-being of many, many people and actions that affect the public honor of Christ. Now don't misunderstand, I don't mean to imply that everything involved in church leadership is drudgery and demands endurance.
I don't think that's Paul's intent here either. There are plenty of causes and ministry for joy and delight. It's just that we don't usually have to be told to enjoy the enjoyable things doing that. We have to be reminded to endure the difficult things.
So Paul tells us that our objective is the salvation of the elect and the way we pursue that objective is going to involve endurance, stamina, perseverance, backing up yet another thought from that one. Then we discover Paul's motivation in this endurance. What is it that drives him to to stick with it, even when the road is uphill and and full of of potholes and and blocked by naysayers is motivation is the eternal reality that the word of God is not bound.
The word of God is not bound and what an awesome motivation. It's also because it will never stop being true word of God will never be bound.
I have limitations.
You have limitations. I have weaknesses I have infirmities I fail even at the privileged calling of God in my life to be a leader in his church, but I must remember I am not the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is I am not the thing that is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit. God's word is that in God's word will always be that so I'm not called to preach me or persuade people to my opinion or advance my vision. I called to protect and promote and proclaim something far more permanent and effectual than I am, is God's word upon which we stand, and that word has never been nor will ever be limited or powerless or ineffectual or bound up by the whims of those who are at enmity with God, so we endure every hardship and ministry precisely because we have the word of God in our minds and in our hearts and in our mouths, but don't stop there, as so many officers in the church of done. Don't be fooled into thinking that the word of God is nothing more than a list of propositions to be learned and disseminated to a congregation, it certainly does contain propositions and those propositions are important. That's why you've spent the last several years studying theology, but the propositions and narratives of the Bible.
It's it's prose and poetry. The Greek the Hebrew all of that is important because it is pointing us to a person. This person is Paul's starting point and ending point is person is why we have pastors and elders and deacons in the church and while we even have a church at all is person of course is Jesus Christ the fulfillment of every gospel promise it's ever been given see this then is your charge. Remember Jesus Christ as you stand on the word of God enduring everything for the sake of the salvation of the elect. Always remember and preach Jesus Christ and him crucified men church. We also get a charge tonight and it's a charge that goes to our session because were calling Stephen is as an assistant pastor. It goes to the diaconate because your ministry and mark of mercy ministry is going to be needed for Steve in his role as assistant pastor in the body and grace. We are called as a body to do certain things.
So here the word of the Lord, and this is God's charge, not Jay's or not the sessions. This is God's charge to us. We read and in first Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 12 and 13. These words, we ask you brothers to respect those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and Amani admonish you and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. When we look at this. These two short verses the very first thing that jumps out to me is when Paul addresses them. He uses the term brothers when we read about what the church is, we see that we are the body of Christ, but we are a family and within this family. God has set up a way in which we can function the best and that is with leaders in roles that we've called them to because we've seen God's working on their life. Steve has been called to a role over to lead us to teach us God's word to admonish us to exhort us in church when we look at that. He is a family member of ours, a brother in Christ who God has put in the position for us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We also see Paul tell the people of Thessalonica, the things that they are to do to respect those who labor among you, and to esteem them very highly in love. That's what were called to for Doug for Eugene for the session for the diaconate for Steve where called to respect, esteem to value highly in love.
Paul finishes in verse 25. By saying this, brothers, pray for us that is our charge church pray for Steve and his ministry. Pray for Steve and his family. Pray for Steve, that Christ Jesus is the most important thing to him and everything that he does Saul take a deep breath here and think about this.
Seeing the work of God right in our midst, God calling a man to serve the church elder to serve you think about that your witnesses to that today was a glorious thing that is to see the promises God thing fulfilled right in our midst. Looking around for Rachel. I don't see Rachel initiate also want you to know to that as your husband is being called to serve in this church. You also are being called you and your family to serve right alongside him supporting him praying for him. As we pray for you and your family about me in prayer father in heaven. Father, son, Holy Spirit. We give all praise, honor and glory to you for the work that you're doing right in our midst.
Tonight raising up a man to be called to serve you to serve your church you bring Stephen Rachel and Robert into our midst to minister to us and to us to minister to them that they may bring salt and light in our midst and into our community that you raise him up with the gifts you have given him to serve us that you keep him humble, so that he depends upon your strength alone for his call that you would enable him with the gifts you have given him to serve well. We thank you for the Providence and promises that you put on display here tonight that you do the work that you said you would do right before us the promise to establish your church so that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.
We thank you for the promise to bring peace and purity into our church that you would work your spirit in us to remind us of your word that you would energize that words that we can be made holy, that we would walk in your ways. We pray also tonight that the session would receive from well that we would be humble before him as he will be humble before us and that we all would be humble before you, that you would work your will through us to establish and sanctify your church through your word. We thank you for your gifts for us. We thank you for this church. We thank you for your work of salvation in our lives and in lives to be saved in the ministry that we are called to follow. We give you all praise, honor and glory.
We thank you Lord Jesus for your work when you pray this in Jesus name and it's now you have baptism, homily and something Doug and Eugene and will in the session, the church of Grace Church grace Presbyterian and receiving me welcome arms thing. I do any of this, like the thing my parents for raising me in the church to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart and have faith in him and like to think my father-in-law. My mother-in-law, brother and sister-in-law my niece my nephew my family there.
Faithfulness and encouragement to me. It's an honor to serve here and thank you for letting me serve your leadership to get to baptize my son and I'd like to speak on baptism apply can regain here going back to the Old Testament we see God establishes a covenant with his people. Covenant is an agreement where God and man. Both have obligations to each other. God makes a covenant with Abraham and says he will make him a great nation. Abraham is called to be faithful to God and in response to his promise that he gives Abraham the mark of the covenant, which is instituted to be a sign and seal of this Abraham covenant is circumcision. God makes his covenant with Abraham and his children, Abraham believed first. Just as I believe today Abraham believed and he received the sign of the covenant his child did not yet believe this.
Robert does not believe that he C2 would receive a sign son Isaac receives the sign as well as his father, Abraham, Ishmael receives the sign yet never believe, but he was part of the covenant community. In Exodus chapter 4 God commands Moses to give all his children. The sign of the covenant under the threat they might be killed. So the command is clear. God wants and mandates that we mark our children with this covenant sign, which at the time in the old covenant was circumcision in the new covenant is a bloodless sign been washed in the blood of Christ, and now the sign of the covenant is baptism. Colossians 2 speaks of discontinuity between the old covenant circumcision and the new covenant baptism and this is a greater covenant. Paul speaks of the New Testament sacrament of baptism is more expansive covenant. This is confirmed in the language of Peter in acts chapter 2. Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the for givenness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off every one of everyone whom the Lord your God has called to himself. You and your children are Israelites and their children identical to the Abraham covenant's languages of Abraham. Those who are far off are gentiles that are grafted into this. Abraham asked covenant promise is confirmed in Galatians 3 there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, is new no mail or female, for you are all one in Christ and if you are Christ's, and you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Promise of Abraham offered offspring land personal blessing to Abraham and the blessing of the nations, and so here we have this fulfillment of these promises, the nations will be blessed. Gentiles and nations have been included into God's covenant people. With the expansion of the Abraham covenant, and so as a believing parent the Lord our God has called himself the children of believers also receive the sign of the new covenant. Covenant of baptism. The warning to all covenant children here. You must see the warning and folly of Israel, that they received the sign of circumcision.
They thought that they were saved and we must not presume that we are saved, although they receive the sign they did still reject the grace and mercy of God. They sought to work their way into heaven and rejecting God's grace and mercy and doing so they would break God's covenant and reject the substance of what this promise today points to which is salvation by grace, the sign of baptism does not save what this sign gives Robert and every other covenant child is the sign and seal of a covenantal promise that if he would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The physical sign of baptism will be a spiritual reality that he might receive the washing and regeneration in the renewal of the Holy Spirit, much like an engagement ring which signifies and seals the promise of a wedding one day this baptism is a sign of a promise that belongs to all covenant children. All who receive the signed believe in the promises of God one day be united with Christ by faith, and ultimately will be in communion with God for eternity to take over for a moment while we administer some valves to Stephen Rachel.
This is maybe Robert he is beautiful and it's good to see him in the flesh. Tonight Stephen Rachel Massey three questions and ask firmly that you respond by saying we do. Do you acknowledge your child's need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit.
Do you claim God's covenant promises in Robert's behalf.
And do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation as you do for your own and do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God and promise and humble reliance upon divine grace that you will endeavor to set before Robert a godly example that you will pray with and for him that you will teach him the doctrines of our holy religion and that you will strive by all the means of God's appointment to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord search the McCullough's are a part of this covenant community and so we have a responsibility to these parents into this child to to seek their spiritual good.
So do you, as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents and the Christian nurture of this child. If you do would you respond by saying amen Samuel, I baptize you with the father the son of the Holy Spirit. A man may pray for Robert and for Stephen Rachel. Father, we thank you for the sweet sign that has been given to this covenant child, Lord, we pray that you would confirm the efficacy of that sign in time that Robert would give a credible profession one day of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that she would save him that she would take him home to be with you in glory for all eternity because of what Jesus Christ has done on the cross, father give grace to Stephen Rachel as they seek to fulfill the very valves they just taken to a raise. Robert and the nurture and admonition of the Lord, give them wisdom in that process. Lord, give them effectiveness and it that they may know the joy of seeing their son repent of his sin and run to Christ in faith, thank you for family. Thank you that you work within the context of the home and that your salvation reaches out to us all. We thank you for your goodness and grace to us in Christ, and it is in his name we pray. Amen. Thank you. You can be seated. There is a gift that the ladies in the church typically present. I'm sorry will do it later but would we have a Bible first person New Testament from the church to to Robert will will make sure that gets taken care off really close this beautiful service with the Psalm. It's a song that speaks of unity of the unity of the church. I we seen that demonstrated here tonight as we've had a Presbytery present we've had an baptism of a new covenant child reminded of all declaring that we have one faith, one baptism, one Lord, and an Godfather of us all. There is one Christian faith.
One gospel we seen that on display here tonight and so were to close with the Psalm of unity Psalm 133 if you would stand with me are tunas 04 thousand tongues to sing, but sing it together. A man and will all lie and Lord bless you and keep you Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace and