The winter meeting was held at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lebanon, MO. Pastor Donnie Ball and the church were great hosts, and we enjoyed being able to rejoice alongside them as they celebrated their 75th anniversary. All the speakers had been at Tabernacle at some point in their lives, and it was wonderful to hear how God had used this church to impact the men that brought the Word to us at the meeting.
Title: “How Will You Finish Your Course?”
Speaker: John Wilkerson
Text: Acts 20:17-25
On his way to Jerusalem, Paul decides to make one last stop to see the elders at the church of Ephesus. While with them, he reminded them of what he had done, what had happened to him, and what lay ahead. His future, to some, would be grim: “I’m going to Jerusalem, and it won’t be easy.” Paul relates all of the problems he was facing, but nevertheless makes this astonishing statement: “None of these things move me.”
The apostle knew how his life would end, yet he regretted nothing. All of us will either finish our course with joy, or with regret. How can we finish like Paul did? Tracing the essential moments in Paul’s life, Pastor Wilkerson demonstrated that we need to go through these same things if we want to finish like Paul.
- Establish your calling. If you read the Epistles and Acts, two things keep coming up: Paul’s testimony of salvation, and his identity as an apostle. He knew that God saved him, and what he had saved him to do. He never lost sight of his conversion or his calling. It must be the same with us. We must constantly ground our identity in the work of Christ that saved us as well as the work God has called us to do.
- Make sure you are surrendered. Paul never got over the fact that he was a servant of Jesus Christ, as we see him restating that in the New Testament many times. His prayer after his conversion was “What do you want me to do?” But that was also the prayer of his entire life.
- Stand in your biblical position. The doctrine that Paul believed when he was converted was, to say the least, not popular with his contemporaries. He gave up prestige, acceptance, and friendship when he took his stand on the gospel. We must also be resolute in standing our ground on the things that Scripture clearly reveals.
- Settle your offenses. Though Paul had disagreements with brothers (e.g. Barnabas) those disagreements never defined him, nor did they make him bitter.
- Sweeten your spirit. Paul writes about joy over and over again in his letters, despite the fact that he suffered more than most of us ever will. His sweet spirit despite difficulty helped him finish strong. If we find our joy in Christ, regardless of circumstances, we will do the same.
- Maintain your purity. Moral compromise isn’t just a mistake, its an offense to God and it will ruin our course. Faithfulness demands purity.
- Remain steadfast through trials. Paul’s faith in God was never a reflection of his personal comfort. If we want to finish our course with joy, we need that same steadfast spirit.
Title: “What Is Real Freedom?”
Speaker: Darren Myers
Text: Psalm 2
The ultimate problem of sinful man is his rejection of Jesus. That is what we find in the second Psalm, a sinful rebellion against God and his ways. The sinners are described as wanting freedom from God, but is that really freedom?
While sinful man thinks he would be free if he were free from God, that really is bondage. Freedom, rather, is the absence of what destroys you. In the garden there was true freedom, when nothing could harm Adam and Eve. With perfect obedience came freedom in perfect love and acceptance. In sin, Adam and his wife sought to be independent of God. And that is precisely when man’s slavery to a new nature began.
The sinners in Psalm 2 desire to break the bonds, that is, the moral boundaries God has given us both by conscience and law. God’s laws are given to man to protect, man wants what he thinks is best for him by escaping those boundaries. In other words, you could not have two more opposing views on what true freedom really is. How can this problem be addressed?
In salvation, we are given true freedom. To know Christ is to be free from the penalty of sin, and one day, it will be to experience complete freedom from even the influence of sin. The best thing Christians can do in a society that doesn’t want God’s freedom is preach the gospel.
Title: “How to Behave”
Speaker: John Wilkerson
Text: 1 Timothy
John Wilkerson preached the final message of the meeting by giving us an overview of the letter of 1 Timothy. He summarized the book in three words, “How to behave.”
Timothy had a difficult background. He dealt with discouragement, his father appeared to not be a spiritual influence for the better, and it also seems that he was more passive than he ought to be. So, God used the Apostle Paul to tell Timothy what his responsibilities are in the house of God.
In Chapter 1, Paul talks about the importance of sound doctrine. Though there has been a serious decline in doctrinal engagement on the part of pastors, it is nevertheless the preacher’s first duty to be the key doctrinal and theological thinker in his congregation. Without doing this, it is impossible to guard the doctrine that has been revealed by God, as Paul would tell Timothy to do int he next letter.
Chapter 2 is all about prayer. Though some pastors may automatically think the most important pastoral duties are outward, visible ones, prayer is actually near the top of the list. So in this chapter, the pastor is told to pray, and how to pray.
Chapter 3 is about qualifications of pastors. This is not because Timothy needed to discover if he was qualified, but rather because he was expected to be investing in the next generation already. We should be pouring our lives into others, preparing them to serve God, whether we are about to retire or not.
Chapter 4 is the section in which Paul tells Timothy how to be a good example.
In Chapter 5, the apostle tells the young pastor how to treat God’s people. One of our responsibilities in God’s house is to treat God’s people with graciousness. Pastors, regardless of their doctrinal commitments, are not behaving themselves properly if they are dictatorial or controlling.
Chapter 6 speaks about how the pastor ought to handle money. Timothy is urged to both work hard, and be content.
Pastor Wilkerson encouraged us to keep going back to this letter, as he has done for years, and remember our responsibilities as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
After the services, a wonderful lunch was provided by the people of Tabernacle Baptist Church. I was grateful to be a part of this meeting.
– David Harris