The Good Servant

June 13, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part four of a six-part study series on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. This personal letter gives us clear teaching on how the gospel transforms our lives and the church. I encourage you to read through 1 Timothy with this series. Today we are looking at chapter 4. In chapter 4 of his first letter to Timothy, Paul speaks directly to Timothy as a servant of the Lord. After briefly revisiting the topic of false teaching, already addressed in chapter 1, Paul calls Timothy to be “a good servant of Christ Jesus” (v. 6). In light of the warning that false teaching leads some to “depart from the faith” (v. 1), Paul commands Timothy to “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” (v. 16). This is a sober reminder that no one is immune to the dangers of false teaching. What are the marks of “a good servant of Christ Jesus”? Let me highlight 4 from 1 Timothy 4. Immersed in the Gospel. Paul uses the phrase “these things” three times in chapter 4: “put these things before the brothers” (v. 6), “Command and teach these things” (v. 11), and “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them” (v. 15). What are “these things”? Paul first used the phrase in 3:14 where he wrote, “I am writing these things to you…” There he is explaining the purpose for writing the letter. “These things” lead to how “one ought to behave in the household of God” (3:15). “These things” is none other than the teaching and implications of the Gospel. This is the theme of Paul’s letter to Timothy. The Gospel transforms lives and churches. Therefore, a good servant of Christ Jesus will be immersed in the Gospel in order to put it before others, teach it, and practice it. ... Keep Reading

Trickle Down Character

June 6, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part three of a six-part study series on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. This personal letter gives us clear teaching on how the gospel transforms our lives and the church. I encourage you to read through 1 Timothy with this series. Today we are looking at chapter 3. As Paul encourages Timothy’s ministry at Ephesus, he emphasizes how essential it is to keep the gospel central. In chapter 1, Paul focused on the teaching of the church. In chapter 2 he addressed worship and prayer, with a view to the outward face of the church. The gospel ought to permeate everything in the life of the church. In chapter 3, Paul turns his attention to the leadership of the church. In the New Testament we find two offices described for the church. Paul opens his letter to the Philippians by addressing the “overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1). In Acts 20 the words “elders” (v. 17) and “overseers” (v. 28) are used to address the same group of leaders. Many Bible scholars believe this two office system is first established in Acts 6 when seven men are chosen to serve the needs of the widows so the ministry of the word would not be hindered. So, it is not surprising that Paul addresses these two offices in 1 Timothy 3, written after Acts when the church was more established. Paul’s primary concern in addressing the overseers (or elders) and deacons is the required character qualifications for each office. Consider each list provided. Above reproach. Faithful in marriage. Sober-minded. Self-controlled. Respectable. Hospitable. Able to teach. Not a drunkard. Not violent but gentle. Not quarrelsome. Not a lover of money. Faithful in household management. Dignified. Not double-tongued. Not addicted to much wine. Not greedy for dishonest gain. Tested and mature. Nearly every single qualification has to do with one’s character. Giftedness, talents, and charisma, all valued in our television saturated culture, are not even mentioned. ... Keep Reading

God’s Desire, Paul’s Desire

May 30, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part two of a six-part study series on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. This personal letter gives us clear teaching on how the gospel transforms our lives. I encourage you to read through 1 Timothy with this series. Today we are looking at chapter 2. We started last week by noticing why Paul wrote his letter to Timothy. Paul explains in 3:14-15, “I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God.” Paul wants to help Timothy shepherd the church at Ephesus with explicit, practical instructions on how the gospel transforms individuals and churches. Paul began in chapter 1 by focusing on the teaching of the church. All of the preaching and teaching of the church must be gospel-centered. Paul moves on in chapter 2 by focusing the outward face of the church. He addresses this by expressing his desire. He uses this word, “desire,” in verse 8, where he writes, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray…” This desire for prayer is a repetition of Paul’s exhortation in verse 1, where he says, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” He goes on to specifically mention the people in governing positions. Paul’s desire is that the church would be praying for all people, including those outside of the church. Paul explains the aim for such a prayer-filled church in verse 2, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” I call this the “outward face of the church” because Paul is concerned about how the church is perceived in the eyes of the watching world. Does the church love all people? Does the church care for all people? Does the church strive to bring peace to the world around them? The primary avenue for the church to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” is through prayer. The gospel teaches us that every good and perfect gift comes from God, not us, nor our efforts. Therefore, the gospel trains us to be people of prayer, being diligent to seek the Lord’s favor in all things. ... Keep Reading

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

May 23, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part one of a six-part study series on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. This personal letter gives us clear teaching on how the gospel transforms our lives. I encourage you to read through 1 Timothy with this series. Today we are looking at chapter 1. The book of Acts ends on a cliff-hanger. The apostle Paul has just arrived in Rome on house-arrest. He is awaiting his trial before Caesar. What comes of that trial? Will Paul be released? Or will he face execution, as his Jewish accusers desired? The Bible never answers those questions, but writings of the early church indicate that Paul was released from that imprisonment about AD 62 (see 1 Clement 5:7 and Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.22.2-8). He continues his ministry for a few years (possibly visiting Spain, cf. Rom. 15:24) and then is imprisoned again in Rome. Under Nero’s persecution of the Church, Paul is executed in AD 68. During those years between imprisonments, we believe Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy. Timothy first joined Paul at Lystra during Paul’s second missionary journey (AD 48-49; Acts 16:1). Timothy became such an integral part of Paul’s ministry team during that journey that Paul includes him as a co-author in the letters he writes to those churches (see 2 Cor. 1:1, Phil. 1:1, Col. 1:1, 1 Thes. 1:1, & 2 Thes. 1:1). After more than a decade of training and mentorship under Paul, Timothy now is being sent out on his own to minister in the churches. Paul has urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), a church that Paul established during his third missionary journey (Acts 19). ... Keep Reading

Stories are powerful. We are drawn to and shaped by them. We are surrounded by them. We love to listen to them and many of us love to share them. What was the last story that deeply impacted you? Maybe it was a recent movie you watched. Maybe it was that new song your favorite artist just released. Maybe it was a dear family member or friend sharing what has been going on in life. Stories are powerfully impactful. I was reminded of this reality during this last month on the bike trail near where I live. I had a moment to connect with a stranger while on my bike ride. It all started after coming to stop, an opening question she asked about the weather, and eventually led to sharing the stories of our lives. She began with sharing her life story with me. She shared some of the hardships and joys she had experienced and currently experiencing. When she finished sharing, she turned to me and asked something along the lines of, “now, what’s your story?” If you were asked this today, where would you begin? What would you share? What moments would you highlight as the most significant? As I began to share parts of my life story with this new friend, I quickly came to realize again how my life has a single thread holding it all together (Acts 17:28). With everything I shared, my life was tracing the grace that God has shown to me and my family. I got to share my testimony of how God saved me in high school and the circumstances that surrounded that time. I got to share about how God had saved my family just a generation before me. I got to share about how the good news of Christ radically changed my heart and how eventually the Lord led me into pastoral ministry which brought me to the foreign Midwest land of Kansas City. Long story short, as the Lord opened an opportunity for me to share my life story with this new friend, I found an even greater opportunity to share briefly the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel’s impact in my life. You see, our testimonies are significant – not because we’re so great, but because Jesus is great. ... Keep Reading

The Church as Our Mother

May 9, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

While various attempts were made in the 19th century to create a day to honor mothers, Mother’s Day as we know it didn’t begin in earnest until the early 20th century. Anna Jarvis initiated the celebration of mothers in 1908 and promoted it until President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in 1914. Within ten years, however, Jarvis began to campaign against the holiday because she felt it became too commercialized. When she died in 1948, Jarvis regretted what became of Mother’s Day. The Christian church celebrated a form of mother’s day long before our modern Mother’s Day experience. Mothering Day was the fourth Sunday of Lent (the six week period before Easter), a day when Christians were encouraged to visit their “mother” church, where they first came to faith and grew up. Consequently, many Christians would be reunited with their birth mothers on this day. The focus of the day was not on their physical mothers, however, but on their spiritual mothers, the church. The 3rd century church father, Cyprian of Carthage, said, “you cannot have God for your Father unless you have the church for your Mother.” Augustine communicated a similar sentiment and the reformer John Calvin expanded on the metaphor of the church as our spiritual mother. Calvin writes in his Institutes:... Keep Reading

Visible Love for One Another

May 2, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In 1970 Francis Schaeffer first published his little booklet, The Mark of the Christian. In this short writing, Schaeffer unpacks and applies the distinguishing mark of the Christian. This mark is by Jesus in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Schaeffer explains that “the final apologetic” to confirm the message of the gospel for a watching world “is the observable love of true Christians for true Christians” (cf. John 17:21). Christians’ love for one another in the church is a compelling testimony to the goodness of the gospel. “The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture.” Schaeffer goes on to ask the question of how this mark, love for one another in the church, becomes visible to a watching world. He offers two practical, tangible actions we can do in order to show love to fellow Christians. First, we must be willing to apologize to one another. Schaeffer says, “When I have made a mistake and when I have failed to love my Christian brother, I go to him and say, ‘I’m sorry.’ That is first.” It should go without saying that we inevitably hurt one another. Bitter words get spoken. Acts of kindness are withheld. Vengeful actions are taken. In all of these, fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ is broken. The only “way of renewed fellowship” is the simple apology and asking for forgiveness. ... Keep Reading

Can you recall a time when you were simply drawn to someone or something? What drew you to that person or thing? Daniel Strange, author of Making Faith Magnetic, helpfully leans on the wisdom of J.H. Bavinck (20th Century Dutch Reformed missionary and theologian) and what he has developed as the five magnetic points to which humans are repeatedly drawn. These five magnetic points get at the fundamental questions and longings that humans throughout the ages and cultures have and continue to seek answers to. Strange has taken Bavinck’s work on this and adapted it to our modern context and how these magnetic points find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. These are five magnetic points that we do well to be looking for as we continually seek to share the hope of Christ with those around us. Magnetic Point 1: Totality – Is there a way to connect? This magnetic point gets at a core longing that we all have for connection. It is easy to feel small, insignificant, and merely like a speck as we exist in a universe so vast. Yet, when we connect with something or someone bigger than ourselves, there is a significance that we often experience, know, and crave after. We love to belong. We crave connection, we can feel abandoned when it goes missing, and we find ourselves craving after it again and again. So, is it possible to belong and be connected to someone or something in such a way that lasts? ... Keep Reading

Original Sin: It’s Not My Fault, Right?

April 18, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of the most difficult biblical doctrines to understand and accept is the imputation of sin, or original sin. “Imputation” means to credit to one’s account, as if it is one’s own. The Westminster Confession of Faith 6.3 says, “[Adam and Eve] being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed; and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation.” Why should Adam’s sin of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil be counted as my own sin? Why should I receive the guilt, death, and corrupted nature for that sin? The key passage to answer these questions is Romans 5:12-21. Paul begins in verse 12 to draw out a comparison between Adam and Christ, but gets sidetracked for a few verses. He says in verse 12, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—” The first two phrases of this verse are pretty clear: 1. Sin was introduced into the world of humans through Adam. We know this as the story of the Fall in Genesis 3: 2. Death enters into the world of humans through sin. Once again, we know this truth as the consequence of sin when God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17. The third phrase is the hang up. “So death spread to all men [i.e. all humans] because all sinned.” The guilt and corruption of sin has spread to all people, “because all sinned.” In what way did all sin?... Keep Reading

Knowing Sin: Must We?

April 11, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday at Oak Hills in our sermon series on Genesis we come to chapter 3, the well-known account of the Fall of man. For many who have grown up in the church, this story is familiar, and, maybe, even uninteresting. And yet, it is foundational to our understanding of humanity, the brokenness of the world, God’s justice and grace, and, ultimately, salvation. As we begin several sermons on Genesis 3, I want to answer the question: why should I care to know more about sin and the origins of sin? Pastor and theologian Mark Jones wrote a book titled, “Knowing Sin: Seeing a Neglected Doctrine through the Eyes of the Puritans.” He opens by saying, “Other than knowing God, your greatest advocate, nothing else in this world is more important than knowing sin, your greatest enemy… Christians should know that a proper understanding of grace requires a thorough grasp of sin. A distorted, weak view of sin will lead to a disfigured, anemic, and unproductive theology” (p. 13). Taking the queue from Mark Jones, let me highlight four benefits from studying sin. The Study of Sin Deepens Our Humility. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” And Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Growing in our understanding of how sin works and how sin is destructive brings us to our knees. When we think too little of our sin, we tend to think too highly of ourselves. This leads to all sorts of trouble: self-reliance, denial of God, self-righteousness, arrogance towards others, and more. The old Proverbs is essential to keep in mind as we study sin, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5; cf. Prov. 3:34). Mark Jones applies this principle in saying, “My sin is my biggest problem, because it is my sin. I must hate it and deal with it if I would ever properly address the sin of others in true grace” (p. 79). ... Keep Reading

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