New Year's Morning Worship: Preparing to Celebrate Our 75th Year as a Church.

It is worth celebrating the tenure of someone or something good. The long-lasting nature of something good means it was established on virtue which has been nurtured. All this year, Grace Church will be celebrating that which is virtuous in a spiritual sense and how we nurture it going forward. Those things which endure have been established on core principles and carefully maintained, and this is also true of the church. Jesus said that upon this rock (Him) He would build His church; and the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18). The church endures because Jesus ensures that it will.

The church endures with honor because she is obedient to what the Lord has asked her to do. Thomas Manton, a Puritan, said faith that receives grace returns glory. A faith that embraces the commands and promises of God does so by the grace of God alone. When the church does this, she ensures herself a bright future unto the glory of God. Grace Church will endure for another seventy-five years by obeying all of God’s Word (Acts 20).

In addition to studying the life of Jesus Christ, the pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus teach us how a church is shepherded well to ensure its vibrant future. These thirteen chapters tell us how to bring glory to the Lord by the grace He has given us in Christ Jesus to embrace His promises and obey His commands as a church should.

There are ninety commands in these three epistles: forty-three in 1 Timothy, fourteen in Titus, and thirty-three in 2 Timothy. Present imperatives are the commands that are immediately and continually obeyed to establish the foundation and practice of the church. Aorist imperatives are one-time commands given to nurture what has been established in the present imperatives. Forty-one commands given in 1 Timothy are present imperatives given by Paul to Timothy to set the foundation of the church, while only two are aorist. In 2 Timothy, Paul gives seventeen present imperative commands to Timothy, while sixteen commands are aorist.

All the verbs in 2 Timothy 4 are aorist verbs of nurturing: ‘preach the word,’ ‘be ready,’ ‘reprove,’ ‘rebuke,’ and ‘exhort’ (verse 2), ‘pick up’ (verse 11), ‘bring’ (verse 13), ‘make every effort’ (verse 9, 21). This chapter captures Paul’s final words before his death (2 Tim. 4:6). Timothy needed this nurturing reminder as he sought to oversee the bright future of the Ephesus church. These verbs of nurturing must be carried out to underpin and care for what has been established. Grace Church can be nurtured by these same verbs to ensure another bright seventy-five years of faithfulness in bringing glory to the Lord.

In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul encourages Timothy eighteen times to be a student of the Word of God. There are thirty-seven examples of Paul teaching Timothy how to personally and publicly study and handle God’s Word. In 2 Timothy 4:2, the word ‘preach’ is a command of nurturing, literally meaning to announce, herald, or proclaim. Preaching is to commence a pastor’s tenure and nurture the church throughout his ministry. With a history of sound preaching since 1948, Grace Church’s goal is to nurture what has been established through the preaching of God’s Word for another seventy-five years or until the Lord Jesus returns.

Paul instructs Timothy to ‘be ready’ in preaching God’s Word, or to be instant or immediate. Let the proclamation of God’s Word be that which the flock needs to hear and may it be done first. This preaching will ensure the continuance of that which has been established by exposing error and convicting of sin, which is ‘to reprove.’ ‘To rebuke’ is to censure or sternly warn. At times, things may need to be exposed and denounced to protect the flock. To patiently reprove and rebuke using the Word of the Lord is nurturing to the flock, ensuring the continuance of the church.

A pastor desires for unity to be maintained and the gospel to be proclaimed both from the pulpit and from the people of the church. 2023 will be a year of more public proclamation of the Word of God than ever before in Grace Church’s seventy-five-year history. The more the church body practices hearing the preaching of the Word of God, the healthier the church body becomes. Paul reminds Grace Church to pay attention to preaching.

Paul also reminds us to make every effort to attend to the personal care of one another (2 Tim. 4:9, 21). The people mentioned in this chapter were dear to Paul. The nurturing of his ministry came from the people of God whom he had won to Christ and had shepherded. Paul could not shepherd well without them. This care that Paul encourages of Timothy is both personal and practical and applies to each of us (1 Thess. 5:12-14; Gal. 6:6-10). A born-again, Spirit-filled flock which understands the Word of God is going to ensure the shepherd and the flock are cared for practically, ensuring the integrity and function of the church for decades to come.

Application Points

  • Are you embracing God’s promises and obeying His commands given to us in His Word?
  • Are you paying attention to the opportunities to hear preaching at Grace? Is it a priority for you to attend these times of preaching?
  • How much effort are you putting forth in getting to know those in the church body in such a way as to be able to care for them?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Luke 6:31; John 13:34; Rom. 12:10-21; 1 Cor. 13; Gal. 5:13, 6:10; Eph. 4:32, 5:19; Phil. 2:1-4; Col. 3:12-17; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Tim. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:8 -- How Christians are to treat one another.
A Quote to Ponder

Missionary William Carey said, "The future is as bright as the promises of God."