Summary: Discover why and how to reproduce your faith and skills.
If we could choose the way that we would die, how many of us would choose to die in burning building? How many of us would choose a sinking ship? Anyone want to go through the pains of ravaging cancer before death? How about the numbness and loss of Alzheimer leading to death?
While many of us are not able to choose how we will die, churches on the other hand have a choice in the way they decline in health and die. Some go up in smoke because of arguments and fights. Others drown because of false, and ultimately harmful, teachings. Stills others are ravaged by uncontrolled sin in the lives of those in the church. Finally, churches die because they no longer function as a church, an organism that reproduces disciples of Christ who worship God.
This morning, we will address the problem of non-reproduction in the church, and so hope to avoid extinction of our church. The jump-off text for this message is from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, chapter 2 verse 2: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." Paul is calling his protégé, Timothy, to reproduce what Paul has taught to others into new people who will in turn reproduce the same things in others who will in turn reproduce the same things in others.
But what are the things Timothy heard from Paul that Paul wanted Timothy to entrust or deposit into others? Do we know the content to be deposited? Yes, at least everything that Paul wrote in the letters titled 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon. Timothy was present when Paul wrote these letters. The contents of these letters include biblical instructions for faith and for living a right and healthy relationship with God and with one another through Jesus Christ.
We will look at why and how we are to reproduce in others these biblical instructions for faith and for living. The call is not new with Paul. Jesus Christ, before he ascended into heaven, spoke these final words, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples (or students) of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
This call to reproduce in others biblical instructions for faith and living was not new with Jesus Christ, either. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 reads, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
FIRST, Why are we to reproduce in others the biblical instructions for faith and for living? After all, our society tells us, "What may be true for you may not be true for me. It matters not what you believe, as long as you are sincere."
Remember the mass suicide by the members of the Heaven’s Gate cult? They sincerely believed that a UFO would come take them after their mass suicide. What we believe does matter, because what we believe determines how we behave. If we are wrong but sincere, we can be sincerely and seriously wrong.
Another barrier to reproducing in others the biblical instruction for faith and for living is not focused on sincerity but on uncertainty. Many parents are unsure of what to pass onto their children. There are so many changes in medicine, technology and philosophy that parents want their children to choose for themselves, because the parents are not sure. As a result of immature choices, subsequent generations of people grow up wanting freedom without responsibility, actions without consequences, and spirituality without morality. Whether we believe in God or not, common sense would tell us that children are immature and incapable of defining their own morality, spirituality and worldview.
Why should we reproduce in others the biblical instructions for faith and for living? Two reasons: Because God calls us to, and because the Bible is trustworthy and superior to any other source for life with God and with one another. The Bible is superior intellectually, morally, spiritually, and practically.
The biblical instruction for faith and for living is INTELLECTUALLY SOUND. Many argue that harm comes from the biblical teaching that mankind is sinful. Instead, many people claim that mankind is basically good but society and institutions corrupt us. If we stop to think, we would ask, "Then who corrupted society and institutions? Or who make up our society and institutions?" And if mankind is basically good, why do we have locks on our doors, alarms in our cars, and why do we pay to have police officers and prisons? Biblical instruction for faith and for living reflects sound intellect.