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How We Ought to Behave in the Household of God

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2022 1:00 am

How We Ought to Behave in the Household of God

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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February 21, 2022 1:00 am

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I invite you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Timothy 5. Paul is writing to his true child in the faith. Paul knows that at one point he will have to leave Ephesus and continue on his fourth missionary journey.

So he'll be passing the torch. He'll be handing off the reins to his little brother, his son in the faith, his mentee, the one he has been guiding in the ministry, Timothy. If he's going to lead the church in Ephesus, he needs to explain to the Ephesian church how they are to relate to one another within the church. The church is described in the New Testament through various metaphors. One would be that we are called a chosen race. We are a royal priesthood. We've been chosen in Christ.

We've been predestined by His grace. We have this status of being a priesthood. And that's because as a priesthood we have access to God and has been provided to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are a holy nation, not simply the Israel that, yes, they're ethnically Israel, but these are believers in the Messiah. We are the true Israelites believing in the Messiah to come. And so we are a holy nation that have been given the righteousness of Christ.

We are a people for His own possession. We've been given access to the Father through Christ and because of our faith in Him, we too have access to the Lord. We're also described as a body. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about how we all make up the body of Christ. Christ is our head. He is the head of the church. But every one of us has a role within the church, whether we are the hands that serve or we are the tongue that communicates the truth of God's Word to the people. We all make up part of the body of Christ.

But the one metaphor that I think is used by Paul and used throughout the New Testament more than any other is the metaphor of a family. Just after Paul gives us the qualifications of an elder and a deacon, he says to Timothy in chapter 3, I'm writing these things so that if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of truth. That's the title of this message this evening is how we ought to behave in the household of God. So the church is where the family meets.

We are not simply just people within the area. This just happens to be where we go to church. This is the meeting house.

This is the living room. This is where we come together and worship the Lord. It's where we break bread together. It's where we receive the cup of the new covenant together. It's where we administer baptism and give the sign and seal of the covenant to new covenant children.

It is where we get together and we pray to our Father as our older brother Christ. God the Son has instructed us, our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. We give this model as the right appropriate type of prayer to a Heavenly Father that has given us His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that we might be adopted into the family of God. And so as we put down roots here at this corner and many come into the church and many receive Christ by faith. Many come to faith.

They receive Him. They believe on His name and they are given the right to become children of God. Not born of blood, not born of the flesh, not of the will of man, but born again, born by the Spirit. Paul tells us in Romans 8, this is how he describes our adoption into the family of God.

It's by the power of the Holy Spirit. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. That is, we receive the inheritance. We're sons and daughters of God, but as sons there's a particular emphasis on the blessings that we're to receive as the oldest son might receive the inheritance. You do not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons and we cry Abba, Father. Which is to cry out.

Abba would be like crying out, Dad. It would not be a formal, removed sort of father, but it would be like you would call upon your own dad. And it's the spirit that bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Philip Ryken wrote, blood may well be thicker than water, but the spirit is thicker than blood. The family of God established through Jesus Christ is the Christians first family.

It's our first membership. And Jesus speaks to this in Mark chapter 3. He's sitting around a crowd and they say that your mother and your brothers are outside.

They're seeking you. And he answered them and said, who are my mother and brothers? And looking about at those who sat around them, he said, here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother. And so the church is where the brothers and sisters, the mothers and fathers of the church, they come together. We fellowship together. We worship the Lord together. God has welcomed us into his family. And now we must talk how we, the family, the fathers, the mothers, the brothers, the sisters within the church, how we are to relate to one another.

How do we interact? And it's centered around the fifth commandment. Honor thy father and mother that thy days will be long upon the land that the Lord thy God has given thee. We are given the fifth commandment to not only honor our biological parents, but our larger catechism within our tradition here says, who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment? The answer is by father and mother in the fifth commandment are meant not only our natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts, especially such as by God's ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth. So not only our parents, of course, as we read it very plainly, but furthermore it would be church leadership as well as those in government.

God has established Romans 13 very clearly that God has established his government and blessed us with a civil government to give us laws within the land. And as it matters that we approach God the right way with reverence and honor and respect as our ultimate father, we also must approach one another in respect and in love. We actually have Old Testament laws that pertain to this. Chapter 19, verse 32, you shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God, I am the Lord. This is not a cultural norm that would be within Greek culture, Roman culture, some sort of back then traditional dated thing.

This is God's unchanging word and his law does give us guidance on how to live the Christian life. It comes right out of the Mosaic law and it gives us this illustration and it applies from the fifth commandment. This is the way in which God would have us behave towards one another out of respect, standing up. When I was a young kid, if we were anywhere and my brother and I were sitting on the couch and someone were to come in that was older and more distinguished, we were instructed to stand up out of respect. This was what we do in saying, yes sir, yes ma'am, standing up. This is showing respect to those that are older than us. I think of the American military, another institution where we are committed to showing respect to those that have superiority in rank and seniority, where there is still saluting and yes sir, yes ma'am, honor must be given to that rank.

Whether you like them or not, whether you like your commanding officer personally, you must show respect to that rank and that seniority. When we go to presbytery, every four months the elders will go to presbytery and report on how our church is doing and meet with other churches within the region. If I were to get up in front of presbytery and address the room, one way I might do that is say, fathers and brothers. Not only addressing all the brothers, the men my age, but those that are older than me. It is a way to honor the elders in the room.

In Asian churches, we're an international denomination, and Asian elders in Asian presbyterian churches, more Korean presbyterians than there are American presbyterians, it is customary to bow before the elders out of showing reverence to them. A lot of churches, I do love certain churches, certain denominations, we call everybody brother, everybody sister. It's just kind of an informal title within a lot of Baptist churches, that every man is a brother and every woman is a sister. I can't help but think it comes from this verse. It comes from the idea that we are a family.

We are together. And again, it depends on some churches. I had a professor that was Australian and he had a PhD, but always insisted on being called his first name. He found it too arrogant to be called Dr. Lowe.

He insisted on Bruce. Being from Atlanta, it was a little uncomfortable, but if that's what he wants, that's what I'll do out of respect for him and for his wishes. But generally, the respect has to come from the younger person towards the older person. We're taught very clearly here that older men do not rebuke an older man, but encourage him as you would a father. Do not rebuke does not mean do not ever correct an older person. It does not mean do not rebuke them because they're the oldest and now that they're the oldest member of the church, they are above criticism.

Absolutely not. We all must be held accountable to God's Word and at times, possibly, gently, politely, correct it if need be. But what we don't want to do is to harshly rebuke. We do not want to publicly ridicule.

The word rebuke literally means to verbally assault or verbally attack where it would be embarrassing and it would draw negative attention to the person. Jesus gives us the model on how to do this. We go back to Matthew 18. He says, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.

If you do, you have gained a brother. First, you go privately. You pull them aside. You talk to them one-on-one so that others are not watching the correction. If they do not listen, you bring a friend. There will be two addressing one.

Finally, the church gets involved. What we want to do is to minimize the embarrassment. We want to correct privately. We don't want to disrespect or humiliate or sharply rebuke in front of others. Larger Catechism 127 says, what is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors? What does the younger person owe to the older person? What does the less distinguished person owe to the more distinguished person?

The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is all due, reverence and heart, word, behavior, prayer, thanksgiving for them, imitation of their virtues and graces, willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels, due submission to their corrections, fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks and the nature of their places, bearing with their infirmities, covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government. And so older men, older men are to be gently approached, gently corrected. If you have your Bibles with you, I'd like to also turn to Titus chapter 2. What we have is these four members of the church that we all fit into one of the four categories, whether we are an older man, a younger man, an older woman, a younger woman. But in Titus 2, we see this parallel.

All four of these church members are mentioned in Titus chapter 2 and it gives us what these four people should be. It gives us moral qualifications that an older man ought to be in the church. And so an older man, Titus chapter 2 verse 2, older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith and love and steadfastness. Older men are, as we just read, at some point possibly going to be corrected.

And it might be from a younger, more foolish man that might not do this well. And so as a man has been in the faith for 30, 40, 50, 60 years, hopefully they have been growing in personal holiness and sanctification and they might endure a heavy-handed, misplaced correction by a younger man. And so the hope here, verse 2, is they will be sober-minded.

They will not be swayed by their emotions. They'll be dignified and self-controlled, handling these sort of circumstances. Sound in the faith, sound in love and steadfastness, looking at all the interactions that they have in the church with love and respect and a hope of restoration for those that they speak with. And so as we get older, we'll all get older, Lord willing, and be sanctified and grow in holiness that we would grow in this personal holiness.

There's a temptation there to be short-tempered and not be able to endure these things, but the hope is that as we grow in Christ, we will be able to handle such correction. Secondly, older women like mothers. We treat older women in the church like they are mothers, mothers to us. They are Christian mothers as local members of the congregation. And they too are to be given the same sort of patience and respect and discretion if there was a need to correct, but most certainly would be someone to give us correction in faith and correction in practice. And it too should be done in a way of honoring older women like you would your own mother.

I speak to an older woman in a church that you would, thinking about your own biological mother, your mother back home. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior. Titus chapter 2 verse 3. They're to be reverent in behavior, not slanderous or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good. They're to be reverent.

They're not to be silly. They're to be serious about the faith and serious about their personal growth. And also as we see verse 4, training the young women to love their husbands and children.

There is a training or a discipling of older women to younger women that looks like they are instructing and discipling and helping the younger women. We get so much of a hard time for having male leadership within the church, even though Paul clearly tells us in 1 Timothy chapter 2 that men are to lead the church. But here what we have are older women are actually instructed to give guidance and discipleship to younger women within the church, teaching them how to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled. The hope is this character from older Christian women within the church would spread out to the younger women, giving them guidance, giving them direction on how to live the Christian life. So they are to teach what is good. They're to teach what is good and right.

Younger women are to be treated as sisters in all purity. I think of Mike Pence. He just wanted to be respectful and above reproach with his wife, and it got out that he does not go out to dinner with any women other than his wife or his mother or his daughters. The media just attacked him from all sides for just trying to do the right thing, to be above reproach, to not have any circumstances where it would look like there was any sort of inappropriate, immoral, or impropriety. Same thing with Billy Graham and other high-profile Christian men.

These guys just wanted to be above reproach. And so Paul is giving Timothy similar advice here. When interacting with the younger women in the church, do so in all purity. Let there not be any appearance of a scandal within your public ministry that has taken down so many men.

So many moral failings have crept up as of late. When I was an undergraduate, I used to wash cars with a pastor, Willie Stevens of Mount Joy Missionary Baptist Church, and he told me, two things will take you down in ministry, money and honey. He said that probably once a week, and he was saying the temptation to embezzle, but also the temptation toward sexual immorality, and he said it was a target for him and it was actually a struggle for him in his local ministry. We had to set up certain boundaries and say, this is something that you must do.

But again, he's doing this as a measure of guarding himself, guarding the honor of Christ, and guarding his ministry. Then also, treat younger men like brothers. Younger men are to be self-controlled.

Think more than anything, young guys are full of energy, full of passion, ready to conquer the world, but again, we must bring that energy and we must slow it down, we must assuage these things, we must slow down and temper ourselves, temper action with wisdom. Show yourselves in all respects and be a model of good works, and in your teaching, show integrity and dignity. So even now, as you're a young man, all my guys in the youth group, as you are developing this character and growing in Christian integrity, continue to study God's Word, continue to be in the Word, always checking yourself and developing and working on your Christian character. To have good works and to show integrity and be a good example to the non-Christians in your life. The sound speech that cannot be condemned. The speech in which that marks your life would not be something that condemns your Christian testimony, but be one that would honor Christ and be a great example for Grace Church and for the Lord Jesus Christ. So that your opponents may be put to shame and have nothing evil to say.

They say a rumor is dead after 60 days with good character, and that's our hope, is that our young men, our young women are growing personally in their Christian walk. Question 125. Why are superiors styled father and mother? Superiors are styled father and mother both to teach them in their duties toward their inferiors, like natural parents, to express love and tenderness to them. According to their several relations, to work inferiors to a greater willingness and cheerfulness in performing their duties to their superiors as to their parents. Yeagermen, if you want to grow in their Christian character, you need to see the value of the wisdom of the older men in the congregation.

I see it every Sunday. My young guys go and talk to my young guys. The older women talk to the older women. The older men talk to the older men. The younger women talk to the younger women.

I'm tempted to do that as well. I see my family. I see the youth group.

I see the core group that I know. What this passage is telling us here is that every one of us is an older man, older woman, younger man, younger woman. Every one of us is called to have relationships in these different groups. The boys in the youth group are called to have strong relationships with older women at Grace Church.

Older men, of course, are called to disciple younger men, but also to disciple younger women. Every group is to interact with other groups within the church, to show the full expression of the Christian family within the church. So we are called here to develop personal relationships with one another, to encourage each other in our walk. We are saved by grace.

We're Grace Church. We have nothing without the grace of God. It is by grace through faith in Christ that we are saved. But I do want to encourage you that as we are now free from the penalty of the law, that this law in God's Word cannot punish me anymore because I am in Christ.

I am free from the burden of the law now that I have received the grace of God in Christ Jesus. I want us to go back and consider what Christ said, that if you love me, John 14 verse 15, you will keep my commandments. Use the commandments of God. Use the clarity of God's law. When you go back to the Westminster Confession of Faith, go back to the fifth commandment, the sixth commandment, the seventh commandment. Use that application to guide and direct your Christian ethics.

Let the law inform you on how we ought to live. Now that we're saved by grace, how then shall we live? We go back to God's Word, go back to God's law that will give us guidance and clarity.

So we look at the law of God, we go back to the fifth commandment, and it comes alive in the life of the church. Remember that every time we interact with one another, there's an opportunity to glorify God, to follow and keep His law, and be clear on how we are to encourage each other, instruct one another, disciple one another. For fathers and mothers who are here to the younger, younger people are hoping and pleading for discipleship and instruction and counsel. For the younger, toward the older, listen, show respect, show deference. Listen to the wisdom that they have. Listen to what insights they can give you in marriage, in life, in studying Scripture and memorization. Think of how much the older members in our church can encourage you.

For those, as you interact with those that are your peers, your age, support, encouragement, as you're in similar stages in life. Help one another, encourage each other. Then for younger men to younger women, Christian friendship and all purity. Get to know one another, encourage each other in your Christian walk. Stir one another up to love and good works.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we take for granted that we have this family before us, that we are brothers and sisters, we have mothers and fathers. You've given us the family, you've given us the household of faith, you've given us your law that gives us clarity on how to live. It gives us instruction on how we live the Christian life. We rest in your grace and we look to the truth of your word to give us guidance, to give us direction. It would be a light on our path that we would see the truth of your word, that we would walk faithfully in Christian love. Meanwhile, Lord, please continue to bless Grace Church, please continue to guide us, be with us, knit us together as a family. All these things we ask in your son's name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-02 18:16:08 / 2023-06-02 18:25:40 / 10

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