Friday, February 22, 2013

Support through Mentoring

James Orsen “Jim Bakker (pronounced “Baker”; born January 2, 1940) is a televangelist, a former Assemblies of God minister, convicted felon, and a former host (with his then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker) of The PTL Club, a popular evangelical Christian television program.1 He experienced much success early in his career and, by the 1980’s they were able to build Heritage USA (the third largest theme park in the USA). However, their lifestyles caused some to question the non-profit organization. Further examination led to a staff secretary who had been paid to keep her mouth shut as to an alleged rape, disclosure of his selling more lifetime memberships than could be accommodated at his hotel, and his keeping two sets of books to conceal the accounting irregularities. The sex scandal led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his imprisonment and divorce. These are the things the outsiders, the world, wants to remember about a Christian who falls. There were new or weak believers who observed this great minister fall. They observed Baker’s conduct and attributed it to the integrity of all Christians. However, how many of us looked to forgive Baker for his sins? God does. The Scripture reads, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9 Jim Baker confessed he was wrong. In fact, he did it in written form for the world to read.2 He later married Lori and, they adopted five inner city children. He renounced his prosperity theology and God gave him another chance to evangelize the teaching of Christian doctrine.1 Baker was truly given another opportunity to imitate Jesus and witness to the world.

This is the last of our lessons in Unit III, “Imitating Jesus”. In a brief overview of the lessons, we have studied the person and work of Christ our Creator, as Lord of all creation, the Head of the church, and the author of our peace with God (Redeemer). It is necessary to understand the doctrinal teaching of Paul to imitate Jesus Christ and discern the teaching of the various doctrines of false teachers. Col 1:15-20 Further, to imitate Christ we must be rooted and grounded, built up, and established in our faith in Him. Col 2:6-15 Paul penned how believers should put off the old man (sins and bad habits) and put on the new man (Christ and godly behavior). Col 3:5-17 When believers are attempting to practice godly behavior, they are in need of spiritual pointers, partners, or mentors to help strengthen them. In this week’s lesson Paul stated they must remain constantly prayerful, wise, and courteous for living new lives in Christ. The lesson text for the final lesson of the Unit is recorded at Colossians 4:2-6. The devotional reading is recorded at 1 Cor 9:19-27.

‘Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;’ Col 4:2 The apostle reminds the Colossians they must have an on-going vigilant communication with God, the Father, in the Name of Jesus. Luke 18:1 It is because of Him they are saved. God has promised to supply all the needs of the believers. The simple prayer of faith must be earnest, persevering, and effectual. During prayer be concerned for the blessings of God without being diverted by other business. Constant distractions in prayer life are not good. Never forget to pray. The believers’ lives and any and all aspects thereof depend on their prayer relationships with the Lord. If they do not pray, then they do not seek the promises He so willingly has for them to receive. Believers are not only to watch against wandering thoughts during prayer, but they are to watch against sleep and time which would rob them of properly taking the opportunity to constantly pray. Believers must always be on guard and attentive. ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;’ Eph 6:18 As Paul reminds them of their need to pray and remain watchful, he then reminds them of the importance of thanksgiving. Phil 4:6 The believer should always be grateful to God, the Author of the salvation plan, and Christ, the Redeemer. The believer has abundant means and opportunities to glorify God in the Name of Jesus. Be thankful and do not waste these opportunities.

‘Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.’ Col 4:3-4 As Paul reminded the Colossians to pray for themselves, he asked them to pray for him and those ministers with him who sought to speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They wanted prayer to be able to give utterance to the message that Christ saves anyone who calls on His name, to include the Gentile. (Acts 2:21; Roman 10:13) It was this message that caused them to be physically imprisoned but spiritually free. Paul did not request prayer for physical freedom. He requested prayer for spiritual freedom. Paul would deny himself to save the soul of a sinner. He would not sin against God, but he would do all he could for the Gospel. 1 Cor 9:19-27 Likewise, all believers must pray for their ministers’ to have the “door of utterance” to speak God’s will. The “door” is the opportunity to witness. Pray for their spiritual freedom to minister the Gospel. Paul wanted to make sure he made it manifest. It did not matter whether his opportunity to witness was while he was imprisoned or not. He wanted prayer to keep his speech simple enough for those who had not heard or understood the Gospel. ‘And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ 1 Cor 2:1-2

‘Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.’ Col 4:5 Believers were to conduct themselves wisely in such a way that the outsiders, unbelievers and false teachers, could not find a reason to criticize the church of Christ. They must walk from the wisdom given by God who gives to all and without limitation. James 1:5 Believers are not to walk in human wisdom. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; …’ Pro 3:5-7a As believers walk in godly wisdom they shall display their lives influenced by faith and make the most of every opportunity to witness (redeem the time).

‘Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.’ Col 4:6 Once again Paul writes to the believers regarding the importance of speech. Their conversation must always be tempered with grace and seasoned with salt. The way Christians speak and the content of their conversations must suit their positions in Christ. Any kind of foolish talk, obscenities, or insults should not be part of the believer’s conversation. Ep 5:4 The speech of believers is always to be courteous, humble, pleasant, approachable, agreeable, etc (full of grace). It is to be ‘seasoned with salt’ to give consideration to the right choice of words in difficult situations. When believers have proper speech, they are able to answer unbelievers and false teachers in a manner that pleases God with words of wisdom and faithfulness.

Do you imitate Jesus in all your ways? How would you characterize your prayer life? Are you a witness for Christ? Is your speech tempered with grace and seasoned with salt? It is important to recognize the importance of these spiritual disciplines in the Christian life.

2 Jim Bakker, I Was Wrong. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 1996

Written by Deborah C Davis

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