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Truth and Love (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 18, 2024 4:00 am

Truth and Love (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 18, 2024 4:00 am

The apostle Paul didn’t focus on popularity or prestige; his concern was to see men and women believe in Jesus and grow in faith. Learn the importance of sharing the Gospel through actions as well as words. Listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!


When the Apostle Paul preached, he wasn't focused on popularity or prestige. He was concerned to see men and women believe in Jesus and continue to grow in their faith. Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn the importance of sharing the Gospel through our actions as well as our words.

Alistair Begg is continuing our study in 1 Thessalonians where in chapter 2 verses 7 through 12. Well, then let us look, secondly, at the content of their message, if that was the concern of their hearts. The content of their message is stated twice in verse 8 and then again in verse 9. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well—the gospel of God. Verse 9 at the end, while we preach the gospel of God to you. Notice that it was by their life and by their doctrine that they declared their love for them. They did not burden them by seeking their financial support, and they did bless them by sharing the gospel with them. That is the nature of verse 9. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and our hardship.

We work night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone. Now, in most of the considerations that I have heard of these verses—and I understand why—the line of thinking goes like this. You'll notice that they did not just share the gospel but they also shared their lives.

Okay? And then the whole drift of the Bible study goes on to the nature of what it means to share our lives. Which is fine. But inevitably what happens is there is some kind of tacit assumption about the fact that they are actually sharing the gospel. That's not the drift. The drift is, our preoccupation was in sharing the gospel, and in order to share the gospel, we worked so that you wouldn't be deprived of finance, but our objective in the sharing of our lives was subservient to the sharing of the gospel. For it is perfectly possible in pastoral ministry to be well thought of in relationship to the expectations of the people of God and yet to fail to do the very thing which is the absolute essential in pastoral ministry—namely, to share the gospel of God. Now, I wonder, are you following with me? You see, because in terms of the expectations of people—and I'll speak as straightforwardly as I can in these moments, and I hope in no sense self-servingly, although you will have to judge that—how do we know that our pastors love us?

Okay? Because we know that pastors are supposed to love their people. So how do we know that our pastors love us? Now, the answer, you see, is a bit like Gary Chapman's love languages story here.

You remember Chapman came into town and did his love languages thing? And the story of the husband and wife who come to the counselor, and the wife says, I don't think my husband loves me, and he says, You've got to be out of your mind. I brought you flowers every Friday afternoon for fifteen years. And she says, Yes, but that doesn't communicate your love to me. And he says, Well, funnily enough, I don't really think you love me either. And she says, You've got to be out of your mind.

I've made your breakfast for you for the last twenty years. And he says, Yeah, but that isn't really the kind of communication of love for which I'm looking. And so, says Chapman, we've got to find a language of communication whereby they're both giving and receiving love. It's an interesting little thought, and I think you probably found it helpful, as I did when I encountered it the first time in Colorado Springs some years ago when I was sharing a conference with them there. But here's the issue. It struck me that if, unless you articulate clearly to your congregation what's going on in terms of what you're doing as a pastor, they may be responding to you with a different kind of love language. Okay?

It goes like this. Alistair, I would like you to come to my home for dinner. Indeed, if you don't come to my home for dinner, I want you to know I'm not joining the church.

Okay? I don't sound like an invitation. That sounds like an ultimatum to me. And to the degree that you're prepared to do this and do it with consistency and do it when we want you to, then we know that you love us. And everybody's got their own language of expectation as to how they can find out whether their pastors love them.

I don't want to overstate this, but I do want to state it. The day that you'll discover that I don't love you anymore is the day that I stop studying my Bible to come and preach it to you. That's the day you can assume I don't love you anymore. Now, you can assume that I don't love you because I didn't meet one of your expectations, and that's all right, and I understand that.

But let me tell it to you now. Here, we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you the gospel of God. Not only the gospel, but our lives as well, but it was in the sharing of the gospel that they communicated their love.

And the content of the message and the faithfulness of the task was absolutely foundational. Now, how was this gospel communicated? Down at the end of verse 9, you see, while we preached the gospel of God to you, the word denotes here the action of a herald. And a herald proclaims what is given him to say.

The herald's responsibility was not to make stuff up, nor was it to respond to the needs of those around him, nor was it to tell jokes, nor was it to make people feel good. But it was to stand up, speak up, and shut up. And he did not originate the message. He received the message, and he passed it on. And that's exactly what Paul and the others were doing. He said, We didn't want to be a burden to you.

That's why we worked, so as not to reduce your cash flow. And we worked so that we could preach to you the gospel of God. The gospel preacher is not at liberty to substitute his view of the need of the moment for the God-given message of the cross. It's when a man understands that he is a herald that you will find an urgency in his message. If he doesn't understand that he is a herald, or if he thinks that he has a responsibility to impress or to woo or to warm or to stir or to tickle or to cozy, then every week he'll spend all his time saying to himself, Oh, I wonder how I can meet this need.

I wonder how I can deal with this. I wonder how I can put that to rights. That's a dreadful tyranny.

I wouldn't like that job. But the responsibility of the herald is to go into the throne room of the king to receive the message from the king to come out into the streets and to say what the king has said. You see, then the people can get a spirit of expectation, and then the preacher can get a spirit of authority. And yet, sadly, so much that passes for preaching, if I may say so as graciously as I can, is nothing other than well-meaning souls rehearsing information. I just this week have been listening to a tape of a gentleman who shall remain nameless, and he does not pay but scant attention to the Word of God and spends a solid thirty-five minutes recounting dreams that he has had over the last seven months of his life—some of the most bizarre and far-fetched material that one's ears have ever encountered.

And my heart grieved for his listening congregation. And if I have the chance ever to speak with him, as I hope I might, I say, Hey, buddy, you're a herald, not a dreamer. Be a herald. Then your congregation will grow in confidence, because they will know what the content of the message is, and they'll be able to determine whether you're sticking with the message, whether you're fulfilling the part of a herald, or whether you're just becoming a charlatan like others. Or will you say, But you're not an apostle? No, we're not apostles. But the teaching of the apostle has been preserved for us and bequeathed to us in the Bible, and it is this Bible now to which we turn. We're to read it, keep it, study it, expound it, apply it, and obey it. John Stott, again, he says, Every authentic Christian ministry begins here with the conviction that we have been called to handle God's Word as its guardians and heralds.

We must not be satisfied with rumors of God as a substitute for good news from God. So we have the concern of their hearts, we have the content of their message, and then, finally, we come to the concern of their hearts, which they display. How concerned were Paul and his colleagues for these people?

The answer is, they were very concerned. And their concern is displayed in the metaphors which he employs. He isn't simply here a herald or a guardian, but he is also, he says, like a mother. Verse 7, We were gentle among you. How gentle! Well, gentle like a mother, caring for her little children.

It's quite a picture, isn't it? I'm not sure I'd be so fast to use that picture, especially if you want to be, you know, a tough guy. And Paul was a pretty tough guy, I think. He had to be. He couldn't have taken all these beatings and hammerings and everything and still be standing up—albeit enabled by the Spirit of God—but he was a tough guy. And yet he says, You know, as apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you.

Gentle. See a mother with her little one? It's a wonderful thing. From the very first moments of birth, it is an incredible attachment between a mother and a child. I think especially in the early days, there is an attachment there to which the father is simply an observer. All the child psychologists can correct me if I'm wrong, but in my observation—and you don't have to be a genius to work it out—there are certain prerequisites with which the mother is availed to which the father can only observe. And there is an obvious attachment there.

Am I getting the picture now? I'm trying to say it as kindly and as sort of nicely as I can, but there is an attachment there. And there is a gentleness there. And that's why sometimes in the postnatal wards, the mother cringes at the way in which the pediatrician picks the child up. I can remember in the early days of our first child going back to the pediatrician over a six-month period, and the way in which this man, Dr. White, picked this kid up was unbelievable. I mean, with every promontory of his body, he picked him up and spun him around, and I could see my wife cringing at the way that he grabbed him. And it wasn't helped by the fact that three times out of four, he would bundle the thing up, give it to the nurse who was with him, and say, She's doing absolutely fine.

It doesn't instill a lot of confidence in you. And certainly, the mother was glad to have him back. Come here. I'll look after you. I'll be gentle with you in a way that no one else would be. A mother comes down to the level of their child.

A mother uses the language of their child, whatever that secret language is. A mother spends many of her days playing infantile games with her children that a father only comes back and has a few minutes of patience for at the end of the day as he stumbles over all these bricks and toys and bicycles and contraptions of all manner of things, and thinks he's done a great service if he manages to put in fifteen minutes, and he doesn't realize that the mother has been down here in gentleness for most of the day. Well, you see, then, it is imperative that as opportunity presents itself, as we have the privilege of interacting in our lives with one another, that in the processes of birth and death and living and dying and pain and discovery and joy and in sorrow and marriage and in all these other things, that we would be able to express that kind of gentleness. I tell people all the time, I'm so glad of the colleagues that God has brought around me here and continues to bring around me guys who are far better at every other thing. And I tell people with regularity, I do know a little of what I'm supposed to do in teaching, in marrying, in burying, in baptizing, and in dedicating.

And after that, and even in the midst of that, it gets thin real fast. But I can guarantee you, you'll know I love you if you give me the privilege, who's gonna say, of marrying you, of sharing with you in those elements of pastoral life. But don't gauge our love for you on the basis of selfish expectations in the midst of literally thousands of people who regard themselves as somehow attached to Parkside Church.

It is not humanly possible to meet those expectations. Gentleness of a mum, the affection of a mum—mum's affection for wee ones is quite remarkable. I don't need to say much concerning that, except perhaps to say, don't let's mistake style for substance, the way in which affection is displayed. Maybe as simple as the squeeze of a hand, the glance of an eye, a simple word, a small note, a little encouragement. But it needs to be there.

It has to be there. And also that a mother will display that gentle love also in self-sacrifice. And Paul says, We cared for you like a mother cares for her little children. We were gentle, we were affectionate, we were sacrificial. We weren't a burden to you. Instead, we eased burdens for you.

Every child knows the sacrifice of a mum. Because it's always at the dumb times that we remember that we needed those certain things instantaneously. Oh, I'm supposed to take a such-and-such. When? Now. And then the mother has to go and pull out the ironing board and do one of those great deals.

It's always like at eleven-fifteen, just as they're falling asleep, I need to have my such-and-such in the morning. Okay. Fine.

Fine. And I have the most profound, as you do, recollections of the sacrificial love of my mother. I can remember her purchasing clothes for me, which I know she purchased at her own expense in terms of her own personal wardrobe. But she never told me that. But it was easy to see.

That kind of sacrifice doesn't come with a banner, you know. It is better felt than tellt. The concern of their hearts is displayed in their mothering of them and, secondly and finally, in their fathering of them. Verse 11, For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, if you being earthly know how to give good gifts to your children. Every earthly father knows what it is to enjoy giving things to his children. Every earthly father knows the responsibility of putting constraints upon his children. Every earthly father understands the need to see his children established in body and mind and in spirit.

And every earthly father needs to recognize that he has a responsibility to live both by example as well as by instruction. And Paul is able to say in verse 10, You are witnesses, and so is God, of these three things. We were holy, righteous, and blameless among you.

What a tremendous, challenging trilogy! We were holy in terms of our relationship with God. We were righteous in terms of our dealings with other people.

And we were blameless in terms of the observation of the watching world. It's quite a platform for fatherhood, wouldn't you say? And then he says, In the process of being a father to you in the faith, in the training that we gave you, in the instruction we provided, some of it would be formal and some of it would be informal.

Some of it would be, Now let's talk about this, and others of it would just be observed in the process of life. The way a young man walks is largely the way his father walks. The way he talks is largely the way his father talks. And so he says in verse 12, As a father deals with his own children, you would recognize that there was within our experience in dealing with you the great element of encouraging and of comforting and of urging. Again, it's an awful, tremendous challenge, isn't it? Both in physical terms in relationship to the responsibilities of earthly parenting and then beyond that the whole issue of spiritual parenting and pastoral care. Because, again, the great propensity for many of us is rather than encouraging to be goading, rather than comforting to be annoying and aggravating, rather than urging, in a kind of compassionate urging, to be cajoling and reprimanding and being down on them. And we see ourselves in the antithesis of these things.

At least, I certainly do. Paul then expresses his care and the care of his colleagues in a rare combination of the role of a mother and of a father. Let me finish with another illustration from Charles Simeon. This is Charles Simeon month, so designated by me.

I just have quoted him a few times. Charles Simeon was the vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge. He was the vicar there for fifty-four years in the first half of the nineteenth century. And an American bishop twice visited Simeon in his old age. And he wrote these words of Simeon, which I find to be of tremendous challenge. This is what he said of Simeon as an old man.

The sweet, affectionate expressions of his face and the welcoming tone of his voice, united with the great softness and childlike simplicity of his manners, instantly made me feel as if I were in the presence of a caring father. And Simeon himself, preferring rather to commend truth and goodness than to castigate error and evil, used to urge and beg of younger clergy who were under his care. He would say to them frequently, Be gentle among your people, as a mother with her family. That is a wonderful standard to set. That is a biblical example to follow.

That is a hard thing to do. Truth is hard if it is not softened by love. And love is soft if it is not hardened by truth. So if truth and love are the hallmarks of genuine pastoral care, then let us pray together that God would fill all of us concerned with the fullness of his Spirit, that we may, as time goes by and as we begin to progress and grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, more closely approximate to the pattern and standard of this book and to the current circumstances in many of our lives.

You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. As we are learning together about speaking the truth in love, it's important to remember that we need to do this with our children. And there's a new family devotional we're recommending called God You Are that provides 20 excerpts from the book of Psalms presented in a short collection of daily readings. These are specifically written for you to read to young children, so you can teach them about God's love and his goodness. The book of Psalms contains wonderful imagery that describes the majesty and nature of God. And this children's book is perfect for teaching preschool and early grade school children that God is always with them, that he never changes, he's righteous, he's faithful. There's so much more in this book. Each reading ends with a short prayer that you can pray together with your children, making it a perfect book for bedtime.

So if you are a parent or a grandparent of young children, there are probably several books that your kids ask you to read over and over again. We believe God You Are will fall into that category. Ask for your copy of the book God You Are when you donate to support the Bible Teaching Ministry of Truth for Life. You can donate today through the Truth for Life mobile app or online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to Truth for Life at post office box 398000 Cleveland, Ohio 44139. I'm Bob Lapine. While we're thankful for those who preach and teach God's Word faithfully, it is important that we don't confuse the message with the messenger. We'll hear more about that tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-18 07:55:14 / 2024-06-18 08:04:00 / 9

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