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A life well lived is a life that ends with the well done of God. For the Christian minister, for the Christian man, every waking hour is about serving the plan of God in a manner that meets with His approval. In this passage we see the servant’s calling, character and conduct. We see his description, disposition and deliverance. Because of Jesus Christ coming to the slave market of sin and putting down His blood for you and me as a payment price, we are purchased. We are no longer a slave to sin, but a free slave to Jesus Christ. There is freedom and fulfillment found in Him. To live out our life as one owned by another, bought by another and for another.
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Philip De Courcy (00:00):
Let’s take our Bibles and turn to 2 Timothy 2 for a few moments this morning. We’re in a series on 2 Timothy. We have called without apology, because one of Paul’s favorite words in this book is unashamed. “Do not be ashamed Timothy of me or the message of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And so we’ve been working through this book and challenging us to live a life without apology for Jesus Christ in these lost and perilous times, as Paul will talk about the next time we’re together. So we want to come to chapter two and verse 23 to the end of the chapter, a message I’ve entitled at your service because the great theme of this passage is being a servant of the Lord. Follow along 2 Timothy 2:23, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient in humility, correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26 at your service.
For years, Alistair Begg, preacher and pastor, carried a little card in his pocket into the pulpit of Parkside Church in Cleveland. And the card read like this, “I renounce my desire for human praise, for the approval of my peers, the need for public recognition. I deliberately put these things aside today, content to hear the whisper, ‘Well done my faithful servant'”. In fact, over the years, Alistair Begg has [inaudible 00:02:04] out several of these little cards in his quest to remain a humble servant of God, and a fearful full expositor of his word. And so reflecting on that story, I was struck by that line. That’s a captivating line. Content to hear the whisper, “Well done my faithful servant.” That’s a dead on desire. That’s something that should capture and captivate any one of us. A life well lived is a life that ends with the well done of God. For the Christian minister, for the Christian man, every waking hour is about serving the plan of God in a manner that meets with his approval.
Paul says, doesn’t he? In his letter to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 5:9, “Whether absent or present, I want to be found pleasing to him.” For us, heaven’s applause, God’s commendation unites our hearts, focuses our mind, and fires our soul. We want to serve the purposes of God in a manner that indeed meets with his approval. Go back to chapter two and verse four, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” If you scroll down the verse 15 of 2 Timothy 2, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We want to live in a manner that pleases God, meets with his approval. For us, the highest honor is to serve God and be known as God’s servant. And here in 2 Timothy 2:23-24, we have a description, a crystal clear outline of what it is to be a servant of the Lord.
Now I want us to come and consider this phrase with you, and what we find here in terms of a servant’s calling and character and conduct. There’s three things I want us to see. Number one, the description, number two, the disposition, and number three, the deliverance. As you and I aspire, as you and I have come to this conclusion in our lives, we will be content to hear, “Well done, faithful servant.” Then what does it mean to be a faithful servant? What does that look like? How does one indeed embrace and express that kind of thinking?
Well, let’s look at number one at what I call the description. Verse 24, “And the servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all.” At the heart of this text is the description, the servant of the Lord. This is the seventh picture that Paul nails to the walls of our mind concerning Christian leadership. He has described the Christian leader and the man of God as a trustee, as a soldier, as an athlete, as a farmer, as a workman, as a vessel. There are several pictures that Paul hangs on the walls of our mind here in 2 Timothy concerning Christian ministry. And this is one of the descriptors that the apostle uses concerning pastoral ministry. A servant of the Lord, that’s what I call the description.
Now let’s drill down into this just for a couple of minutes. In our English versions, the Greek word doulos is translated servant. But that is not a good translation. That is not an accurate translation because doulos is the Greek term that’s common for slave. Slave. And yet for years, English translators of the Bible have dodged that term. In fact, in his book, Slave: The Hidden Truth about Your Identity in Christ, John MacArthur shows us across church history that most English bibles have softened this term in their translation. Doulos appears 124 times in the New Testament and it always means slave. In fact, there are several other Greek words available to Paul, to John, to Peter, to the New Testament writers, that clearly means servant, but doulos is not one of them. In fact, when this term is used outside of the New Testament, it is always used of the slave.
In fact, listen to John MacArthur in his book, The Slave. According to the theological diction of the New Testament, a foremost authority on the meaning of Greek terms in scripture, the word doulos is used exclusively either to describe the status of a slave or an attitude corresponding to that of a slave. The dictionary continues by noting the meaning is so unequivocal, and so self-contained that it is superfluous to give examples of the individual terms or [inaudible 00:07:31] history of the group. The emphasis here is always on serving as a slave. Hence we have a service which is not a matter of choice for the one who renders it, which he has to perform whether he likes it or not, because he is subject as a slave to an alien will, to the will of his owner. Guys, this is a striking term, and given the dialogue and the controversy that’s going on in our own country regarding America’s period of slavery, isn’t it striking that, that’s it, this is a term that the Apostle Paul uses of the Christian? We are slaves to Jesus Christ. We are those who do the will of another. We have no plans concerning ourself, but this, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” That’s the word that’s before us and there are several things involved in it.
The price involved is an interesting thought, isn’t it? Remember what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “You are not your own, you are bought with a price.” So now live out your life as one owned by another, bought by another. There’s no way to sugarcoat this term. We’ve tried to do it. Every time we read the word servant in the New Testament, that’s a translation of the Greek word doulos, we should be translating it slave. Paul, the slave of Jesus Christ. He writes that in several of his letters in the opening verse. Sometimes it’s translated bondservant, but it’s actually slave and there’s a price involved. In fact, one of the words used for redemption in the New Testament is a word that means to buy a slave at the marketplace. That’s the image of redemption. Where someone goes down to a marketplace and purchases a slave.
Now in this case, redemption is the purchasing of the slave to set them free. And that’s what Jesus Christ did. Because according to John 8, you and I are slaves to our sin nature. We go astray from the womb. We take to rebellion, lawlessness and sin like a duck to water. The chords of our sin bind us according to Proverbs 5:22. And Jesus Christ comes and he frees us from that. But the implication of redemption in the New Testament, he frees us from the slavery of sin into the freedom of slavery to his will. So there’s a price involved.
Secondly, there’s a posture involved, a posture involved. Colossians 3:23, Paul is actually addressing slaves, Christian slaves, and he’s telling them what attitude they ought to exhibit and what postured they ought to take regarding their masters. And what’s true in terms of physical slavery is true in terms of spiritual slavery. Colossians 3:22, “bondservants, doulos, slaves, obey and all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it hardly as to the Lord and not to men.” Bondservants, slaves, the doulos, obey and all things.
So when Paul says to Timothy, “Hey Timothy, as a slave of Jesus Christ, here’s how you ought ought to behave.” There’s a price involved in that, and there’s a posture involved in that. Timothy ought to do everything that Jesus commands him to do. No ifs, no buts about it. He has surrendered his will to an alien will, to another will. But this is a kind master, not a cruel master. He has been bought with the price. So there’s a price involved in this image. There’s a posture involved in this image, and there’s a paradox involved in this image. Because whom the Son sets free is free indeed, right? John 8:36. And we have been bought from the slavery of sin and we have been brought into slavery to Jesus Christ, a good and kind master whose will is good and pleasurable. And so the paradox is that we will never be more free as man when we’re the slaves of Jesus Christ. Now in the Roman world, slavery was bondage. Slavery was cruelty, punishment, hardship. But slavery to Jesus Christ is freedom, joy, eternal purpose and everlasting reward. That’s the paradox.
In fact, when you go to Romans 6, [inaudible 00:12:41] up, we were once slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness. In Roman 6:22, here’s what we read, “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness and the end, everlasting life.” While our country runs from every image and symbol of slavery, and that’s at a debate in itself, we as Christian men don’t run from the thought of slavery because it’s a descriptor of the man of God. In fact, given the debate that’s going on in our country, it might be a good time the next time somebody’s having a profitable conversation about that, you say, “You know what, you need to know as a follower of Jesus Christ, I am a slave.” But this is a freeing slavery. This is a fulfilling slavery. And you realize, it use our slaves to your sin nature and addicted to your love of self. And only Jesus Christ can free you from that and bring you paradoxically into the freedom of servitude in his kingdom. Because we were meed for him, we exist for his pleasure and we will never be our true selves and enjoyed the fullness of life until we’re back serving God, the God we walked away from.
There’s a story that comes out of the civil War about a northerner who goes to the south to a slave of auction, and he purchases a young slave girl. And as he’s walking away from the auction, the man turns to the girl and he says, “You’re free.” And with amusement she responds, “You mean I’m free to do whatever I want?” “Yes.” “You mean to say whatever I want to say?” “Yes, anything.” “To go wherever I want to go?” “Yes, anywhere.” “To be whatever I want to be?” “Yes, anything.” And she looked at him intently and replied, “Then I want to go with you.” And guys, Jesus Christ has come to the slave market of sin and put down his blood as a payment price. He’s purchased us and we’re no longer to sin but freely slaves to Jesus Christ, which is the essence of freedom and fulfillment. So that’s the description.
Secondly, we’ve got the disposition. The disposition. Let me move through this a little bit faster because according to Paul, the servant of the Lord will exhibit certain traits, certain behavior that will both protect the church, enhance the gospel and multiply his effectiveness. Now Paul describes these traits in both negative and positive terms. There are some things the servant of God should not do and there are some things the servant of God should do. So let’s get into the [inaudible 00:15:35]. We’ll move from the description, the servant of the Lord, to the disposition. How does that work itself out negatively. Look at verse 23, 2 Timothy 2, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And the servant of the Lord must not be a quarreler or quarrelsome or not quarrel.” The servant of the Lord is not to engage in fruitless theological disputes with false teachers and become argumentative in spirit. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on verse 23 because we kind of covered that in a former study. In fact, this is the third time Paul has addressed false teachers and false teaching, and how they generate strife and they’re divisive and they’re damaging to the body of Christ. And Paul reminds Timothy for the third time to avoid that.
Look at verse 14, “Remind them of these and charge them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of their hearers. Look at verse 16, “But shun profane and idle babbling that increase ungodliness.” We’ve kind of covered that. Now let me say this, when Paul says in verse 13, “Don’t avoid foolish and ignorant disputes knowing that they generate strife and don’t be quarrelsome”, he’s not prohibiting controversy. Paul’s not saying you never engage in controversy regarding doctrine or theology. He’s not saying that. In fact, in chapter six verse 12 of his first letter, he tells Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. In fact, in this letter in chapter four verse seven, he’ll speak of himself that, “I’ve run the race and I’ve fought the fight and I’ve kept the faith.” So whatever this prohibition is, it’s not a censoring of all controversy, of all theological debate.
There is a time and place to engage in polemics. Jude 3, right? “Contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” Philippians 1:7, “I am set for the defense of the gospel.” Titus 1:9, “the elder must refute those who are in error.” But what we were to avoid is discussion that is speculative in nature, not biblical. That starts somewhere outside of the scriptures, that generates strife rather than fosters unity. That end up hurting people rather than helping them. And that gives oxygen and platform to false teachers. That’s off limits.
So Paul’s not prohibiting all controversy, but he is addressing the attitude that ought to mark theological debate when it justly takes place. And what is that attitude? Verse 24, “The servant of the Lord must not quarrel.” Interesting Greek word it speaks of [inaudible 00:18:39]. And Paul is saying here, look, if you’re going to get involved in controversy, do it out of love for Jesus Christ. Not as a seeker of contention. The servant of Lord is not to be quarrelsome or argumentative in spirit. If you’re going to argue theology, if you’re going to get into the finer points of doctrine, make sure, guard your heart, that it’s out of a love for the truth. That it’s out of a concern for the souls of man and it’s not out of a love for argument. You know what? If you’re going to defend the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, make sure you look something like Him when you’re doing it. It’s kind of basically what Paul is saying. Because Jesus was gentle according to Matthew 11:29 and Matthew 21:5.
You know what? If you study the life of Charles Simeon, an English pastor in Cambridge, he was the brunt of people’s jokes in academia as an evangelical. Even his own church give him a hard time, where many people locked the doors to their pews and didn’t come to church. And because they had purchased those pews and locked the door, no one else could sit on those pews. And literally most of his congregation for almost 10 years stood along the side walls and the back wall in between the aisles of the church. For 10 years. Until God brought him through that and brought them beyond that. But listen to these words by Simeon himself during that time, “In the state of things I saw no remedy but faith and patience. The passage of Scripture which subdued and controlled my mind was this, ‘The servant of the Lord must not quarrel.’ It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken: but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation, a that did attend, there would be on the whole be as much good done if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times when without such reflection, I should have sunk beneath the burden.”
But let’s move on, not just negatively. Positively, what does it look like to be a servant of God? Well, in the negative side, as Spurgeon said, you don’t go around with the theological revolver, tuck down your belt waiting to pistol whip anybody that disagrees with you. Okay? If you’re like that, you’re not a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ is not quarrelsome. He doesn’t pick fights, positively, but he’s gentle. Did you notice that? But the servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all. Not mean spirited, not contentious, not spoiling for a fight. Quite the opposite. The opposite of the guy who picks the fight, who lights the fuse, who starts the brawl, is the guy who’s gentle to all, mild measured in his responses to those that oppose.
See, when somebody opposes you, as a Christian [inaudible 00:22:00] issue with the gospel, what’s kind of your instinctual response? Is it the stick it to him, to put the fists up and go, “okay, let’s do battle” or is to step back gain your composure, step forward and engage them in a loving, gentle, mild mannered Christlike fashion. That’s certainly what marked the Lord Jesus Christ and something that should indeed mark us. It’s interesting, we won’t go there for time’s beaten as badly this morning. First 1 Thessalonians 2:7, you can look at that later, but you’ll see that the term gentle is used in [inaudible 00:22:42] same Greek word for a nursing mother. Wow, what a picture of the servant of God. Not the angry father type, but the gentle loving mother type who nurses their child, protective, sensitive. That’s the picture that Paul uses. And I understand this is not a call to timidity. We’re not talking about that. We’re not becoming theologically disinterested here or doctrinally passive. There’s no way he means that. And you know that because you look at verse 25, “in humility correcting these who are in opposition.”
So there is a place to correct, there is a place to engage in theological discussion and call people out if they’re in error and warn them of the consequences of theological deviation. But what’s the spirit? What’s the manner? It’s gentleness. It’s being affable in spirit, kind and manner and thoughtful in your way. Listen guys, gentleness is always the will and the work of God for it is the fruit of the spirit, Galatians 5:23. Well we understand the prayer of the little boy who said, “Oh God, make all the bad people good and make all the good people nice.” We need to be nicer than we are sometimes in dealing with those we need to correct who are in opposition. But let’s keep moving. The servant of God is to avoid quarrels that are unprofitable. The servant of God is to be gentle. The servant of God is also to be able to teach. One would assume those who are in opposition be able to defend the gospel. Because look at verse 24, “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle in all, able to teach.” He must be able to give himself to the ministry of the word, to counseling, to missions. He must be an expert in the Bible.
If you go back up to verse 15, we saw this right? “He must be diligent to present himself, approved to God or workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” I just want to underscore this reality. The pastoral ministry in the New Testament is always a ministry committed to education. This is a church committed to biblical education because that’s the pastoral call. The pastor according to 1 Timothy 3:2 must be able to teach. The pastor and leaders according to 1 Timothy 5:17 must give themselves to the labor of the word. In our letter, we saw it in chapter two verse two, the leader, the pastor must be able to teach others who are able to teach so that they might be able in their teaching of others.
New Testament ministry is a call to education. And the point here is this: able to teach. Some people want to teach, some people are being trained to teach but we need men in the pulpit, we need men in the church who are actually able to do it. That’s the thought here. Able to communicate the truth. That’s what the servant of God ought to be like. He not only knows it but he can communicate it effectively. Every pastor wants it to be said of them. Every Christian leader wants it to be said of them. He is a able teacher of the Word of God. You need to aspire to that. You need to embrace that. That’s why you need to be at the KTT Pastor’s Conference in November.
I like the story of the pastor who is at the door on a Sunday morning receiving just the greetings of his people, and as one woman when she says, “Pastor that sermon this morning was divine.” He thought that was great until she said, “It was divine in the sense it was like God’s mercy, it endured forever. And secondly it was like God’s peace. It passed all understanding.” We don’t want that kind of sermon, divine as it might be, and certainly Paul doesn’t want that. He wants a man whose able to communicate effectively the Word of God because there are those who are undermining it, opposing it, dividing the church spreading like a cancer. So the amount of God has got to step up, the slave of Jesus Christ has got to step forward and defend the truth but do it in a kind manner. Last thought here and we’ll move on is that, the servant of the Lord is to be gentle. The servant of the Lord is to be able to teach. The servant of the Lord is to be patient. Now this is a very interesting term. This is not your garden variety patience. This is an interesting Greek word that literally means patient when wrong. It means actually literally, the putting up with evil. Strong term. It’s to be patient when injured, patient when confronted, patient when opposed.
I like what Lenski, the great Lutheran commentator on 2 Timothy, said. He translated it, “putting up with what is barred.” Now again, this isn’t the condoning of error. This isn’t a call to passivity. To let every lie of the devil go by. To let every false teacher have their day without someone challenging them. But again, it’s a call to minister to people as we’ll see here momentarily if you’ll give me a couple more minutes. We’re ministering to people who oppose the gospel, right? The verse 25, who are entrapped in demonic deception. And when you meet that kind of person, the stench of false doctrine is all over the place and your spiritual nostrils can smell it and it’s repulsive. But how’re you going to win that man? How’re you going to win that woman to Jesus Christ? How’re you going to look like the Lord Jesus in preaching the Lord Jesus? Well you’re going to be kind, you’re going to be gentle, you’re going to be able to communicate the truth and you’re going to put up with their evil in the sense of having a tolerant spirit. I’m not talking about a tolerant mind. There’s no putting up with the evil in your mind. There’s no accepting of the false doctrine, but there’s a tolerant spirit. And I think we need to make that distinction, and our country needs to learn that is the distinction when it comes to tolerance.
Tolerance is a spirit. I can tolerate something I don’t agree with, without embracing it, without condoning it. And Paul is going to say that, when you’re meeting and correcting someone who’s in opposition, I’m not asking you to be tolerant in mind because you’ve got to be diligent, rightly dividing the word of truth. Error is error. Call it out for what it is and see it for what it is. But when it comes to that person, be patient, be loving, be kind. That’s not easy to do. Finding that kind of patience isn’t easy. Let’s just leave that.
Let’s move to the last thought, not only the description, not only the disposition but finally the deliverance. Couple of things I want to squeeze in here, because Paul and I continues in verse 25 and 26. And he continues to talk about the role and the responsibility of the servant of God and he focuses on the damaging and the damning effects of false doctrine. But while he talks about that, he also talks about how his heart aches for the victims of it. “In humility, correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, so that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil having been taken captive by him at as will.” Because Paul is saying to Timothy, “Timothy, I long to see people escape the shackles of false thinking and destructive doctrine. And I want you to come alongside me in the task of trying to correct those who are in opposition and perhaps we will see some deliverance.” Now there’s a few things here. This is about soul winning. This is about rescuing people from the snare of the evil one. Couple of things. Number one: did you notice the spirit of the soul winner? The spirit of the soul winner? Look at verse 25, “in humility, correcting those who are in opposition.” Humility and gentleness should mark the soul winner.
Correcting the deceived and winning the lost requires a tender touch. This is an interesting Greek word. It speaks of medicine, a soothing medicine that takes the sting and a faction out of a wound; that speaks of a young colt, broken and under control, energy harnessed. And Paul is saying that to Timothy, “when you’re ministering to people who are needing correction, who are infected with false doctrine, who are trying to buck the truth so to speak, you need to be of such a spirit and disposition that you’re soothing and healing to them.” And that while you’re reacting against their doctrine, you do it as one who has controlled knowing that you don’t tolerate it in your mind but you’re putting up with this situation for the sake of the gospel because you’re tolerant in spirit. And so the point is what guys? You can’t bully or bludgeon people into the kingdom of God. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again here. We’re all in the business of trying to pick and harvest spiritual fruit, and that requires a tender touch.
I have a friend who’s on the board at the master. Samuel George Jackson along with his sons are some of the biggest fruit growers in California up in Kingsburg. And when I’m up there, George always takes me around on his F-150 to the pear or whatever they’re growing, and you can just watch the way he handles the fruit. And he talks about that we need to be very careful. If you go to their factory, you’ll see the fruit in the thousands rolling down these rollers, and the machines just handles the fruit carefully because you don’t want to get that fruit bruised in the picking and the processing of it. And we’ve said this before, if you can’t pick the fruit, don’t bruise the fruit. And Paul is saying that do this with humility. This is the spirit of the soul winner. Understand where that person’s come from. Remember what it was like to be lost yourself. [inaudible 00:33:43] go I but for the grace of God. And if they become indeed ensnared in deception, maybe something by God’s grace because of a good God or a fearful pastor you have never had to deal with. But secondly, you now got the spirit of the soul winner, the sympathy of the soul winner. The sympathy of the soul winner.
There seems to be more implicitly than explicitly an understanding on Paul’s part that those who are opposing him and standing in opposition to the gospel, are victims of the devil’s deception and dominion. That they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil who have taken them captive by his will to do his will. Now Paul’s not denying man’s culpability, but he is understanding there is a maniacal demonic force at work in the world that makes it harder for people to trust Jesus Christ and easier for them to believe a lie. And Paul recognizes that. He understands that the devil has his fingerprints all over falsehood because the devil’s a liar, John 8:44, false doctrine is a product of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1, and the devil has an ability to transform himself into an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14. So when you and I are seeking to win the lost and rescue the deceived, there’s a spirit that marks that humility, kindness. Don’t bruise the fruit as you pick it. And there’s this sympathy that marks that.
Do you realize that men are duped and doped by the devil this morning? That person in your office is kind of a thorn in your side or has been getting under your skin a little bit. They’re the loudest voice against the gospel and the office. You know someone in your family has indeed been drawn into a cult or a false religion or some philosophy of man that rises itself in opposition to God. Where’s your sympathy? Do you understand they’re being duped and doped by the devil? In fact, it’s interesting guys. I know time’s gone. But that little phrase is to their senses that they may come to their senses. That’s the word that means sobering up. It’s the guy that’s coming off a night of a night of being intoxicated. And you know what, many of our friends and many of our family are intoxicated with the devil’s brew. Sometimes it’s in the form of high church and religion without Christ. Sometimes it’s more apparent than that, just an abhorrent cult. Sometimes it’s some sleek philosophy of life. But you know what? You need to look behind that and say, “You know what? They are drunk on the Devil’s brew. And they’re captive at his will. And I need to show a little bit of sympathy.” And I think the balance is there, so we’ll move to the last point.
Maybe it’s not the greatest analogy, but let’s take that analogy of doped by the devil, intoxicated by the devil. I mean if there’s a young man in one of our neighborhoods that’s kind of on drugs to some sense, we would … might say, “well he’s culpable for that.” He made a choice [inaudible 00:37:04]. And that’s true. But hey, there are certain areas where it’s drug infested, there’s drug pushers on every corner and it’s hard for that young man to escape that kind of trap. And there are certain cities and parts of a city where drug infestation and drug problems are just all over the place. And can I … we need to have a simple yes that young man made a mistake, yes he needs to own up to his responsibility. But you know what? There was a drug pusher, there was a culture, there was an environment into which he was born, and it made hard for him. And Paul’s is kind of saying that. Spiritually speaking, we are in a drug-infested environment in this world. There’s falsehood, lies deception. And when you meet someone who’s intoxicated with that stuff, doped by that stuff, understand the story behind it. There’s a devil at work. They’re the victims of his deception. Finally we’re done.
The steadfastness of the soul winner, be steadfast in this guys, be about the business of winning the lost, rescuing the deceived. And how can we be steadfast? What continues to stimulate us? There’s that interesting little phrase in humility, correcting those who are in opposition, that’s those who are, according to verse 26, are trapped in the snare of the devil having been kept captive by him. Well, as you and I seek the witness to them a lovingly, patiently, kindly, we do it in this hope. This is the star fastness of the soul winner. If God perhaps will grant them repentance so that they might know the truth.
Interesting little phrase is versely translated: for it may be that or in the hope that. Then there’s a certain hesitancy here that I don’t particularly like if perhaps, but there is a recognition here of who you’re dealing with. This is someone that’s entrapped. Layers and layers of deception, not easily won to Jesus Christ. And so there’s a certain hesitancy and a certain honesty here, but there is hope in it because God grants repentance. Salvation’s God’s work. And as hard as that person might be, and as dark as their mind might be, and as many obstacles stand in the way to them coming to Jesus Christ, we minister in the hope that perhaps God will see of them and grant them repentance. Because He’s able to do that at any time with any person. And when there’s a hesitancy here, there’s an acknowledgement they can be saved and they might be saved. And as we minister, we minister in the hope that God will see of them because he’s not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
A young man went to Spurgeon one time and said, “You know what Mr. Spurgeon, I’ve been preaching around the countryside for some time now and I don’t see many souls saved like you do.” Spurgeon looked at him and said, “Do you expect to see souls saved every time you preach?” To which the young man replied, “Well, no sir.” To which Spurgeon replied, “Well that’s why you’re not seeing anybody saved.” And there’s an acknowledgement there by Spurgeon that hey, when you preach, when you soul win, when you evangelize, when you minister, when you counsel, you need to do it in the expectation that God saves, will save, does save, and only God can save. And so in the middle of your conversation, taking Paul’s words on board, you go, “Boy, this is a tough case. They don’t like me, they don’t like the gospel.” But you reach out to that person who’s in opposition and you do it in a Christ like manner. You don’t give quarter to error, but you show kindness, patience, you communicate the gospel clearly. You do it in a loving manner and a thoughtful way. And all the time in the back of your mind, there’s this prayer going on: Lord save, Lord save, Lord save because only you can save. And He does and He will. And that’s what gives us our hope. And that’s what makes us a steadfast soul winner.
Let’s pray. Father, we thank you for this time in your word, for this passage where we have the explanation of what it is to be a servant of the Lord. Alistair reminds himself every Sunday, and we need to remind ourselves every day that when it comes dying to it, we’re content. If it can be said of us, and will be said to us, well done faithful servant. We want to be faithful servants. We want to be obedient slaves of Jesus Christ. And so Lord, help us to be that. Help us to exhibit this disposition, negative and positive. Help us Lord to be involved in deliverance ministry, where we become instruments in your hand to rescue the perishing, and care for the dying. Help us indeed to have the Spirit of Jesus Christ as we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Help us to be humble. Lord, help us to have sympathy and compassion for those we’re dealing with. And help us to minister in the hope that per adventure, perhaps that God will grant them repentance and bring them to a knowledge of the truth. For we pray, ask these things in Christ’s name, amen.