For Deserting Christians! Pt. 3
Reading 2 Tim. 4 v 1-22 + Col. 4 v 14 + Philemon v 24.
Preached By Ken Humphries,
Demas And His Cause!
"Having loved this present world." V10.
Without doubt this is a most intriguing phrase! What is the true meaning of it?
Now, I find this most interesting indeed. Luke 16:13
"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
The Power Of The World! "This present world"
I believe it is true to say, it is not so much worldliness that Paul is concerned about. Rather it is the present world values causing him concern. It is what Demas lays importance upon in the present (now) world. Crescens went to Galatia and Titus went to Dalmatia, yet Paul makes no comment with regard to where or what they were doing. The only one it would appear he had dispatched anywhere was Tychicus to Ephesians. So what is the big concern with Demas going to Thessalonica?
Well, it would seem his concern arises out of the fact that Demas loves his life more than he loved his Lord. Had Demas stayed with Paul he might well have suffered the same fate, so, not having come to the point of absolute commitment, he is getting out of there. What a test for all of us beloved!
"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." C. S. Lewis.
Moses had come to that point of complete commitment when he said.
"Blot my name out of the book of the living" Exod. 32 v 32.
Paul had himself come to that point of complete commitment when he said.
"I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren." Rom. 9 v 3.
It may not be that we are "worldly" that is, continually in the pursuit of worldliness, it may well be we have such a love of this life, we have more love for life than we have for the Lord. We have not yet come to a moment of complete surrender where like the Apostle Paul we can with honesty of heart say, "for me to live is Christ, to die is gain."
B. The Persuasion Of The Church! "Departed unto Thessalonica"
Now this I trust will be of some interest. Some of the scholars believe Demas was a native of Thessalonica in the first place. Secondly, some believe he had received a call to the Church at Thessalonica. As we have seen in our studies of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians things were going well there, it was by all accounts a well to do church, there would be a better salary, a larger congregation and anyway, because he comes from that part of the world he is well liked. Not so much danger of persecution or prosecution there! Is Paul concerned Demas is going there for all the wrong reasons? Is this what Paul means by "having loved this present world" he has a love for a better lifestyle rather than laying down his life for the Lord!
Like the two on the road to Emmaus, at that moment of time it was easier going back than going forward. Although Demas was going to a good work could it be it was not God’s calling for him at that time and Paul was acutely aware of the dangerous decision he was making. Beloved, that’s a possibility that faces all of us. Is something or someone pulling you away from God’s call for your life. Better position, better money, better prospects for you and your family. Mark time folks, take time out, think and pray carefully. All too often decisions have been made taking people away from the call and work given to them by God only to end in terrible consequences.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Jim Elliot (1927-1956).
4. Demas And His Consequences! v 10.
"For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed to Thessalonica."
What are those consequences?
These words written against his name for all eternity!
Whatever my thoughts with respect to Demas going to Pastor the Church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul was without doubt he was going backward and not forward. Interestingly, we never hear his name mentioned again, yet written against his testimony for evermore will be these very telling words, "Demas has forsaken."
You see dear friends, there is always a consequence to our actions either good or bad, we really ought to take this thought on board. There are no actions without consequences!
A. Consequences To The Christian! 2 Cor. 5 v 10.
"For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
I said: "let me walk in the field" God said: "nay walk in the town"
I said: "there are no flowers there," God said: "no flowers, but a crown."
I said: "but the sky is black" there is nothing but noise and din"
But he wept as he sent me back, "There is more" he said, "there is sin."
I cast one look at the fields, then set my face to the town;
He said: "my child, do you yield, Will you leave the flowers for the crown?
Then into His hand went mine, and into my heart came He,
And I walked in a light Divine, the path I had feared to see.
Do you recall the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2; they had activity, quality, solidity, reality, sincerity, and even immovability, and the Lord mentions these things by way of praise. Yet all of that was without love! Despite all the praiseworthy elements in this amazing church, the penetrating, omniscient gaze of the Lord Jesus Christ has spotted a fatal flaw. Though they maintained their doctrinal orthodoxy and continued to serve Christ, that service had degenerated into mechanical orthodoxy. Though at one time they had displayed great love, forty years later the affection of first generation believers had cooled. The current generation was maintaining the doctrine handed down to them, but they had left their first love. And dear folks, there is no work so frustrating and empty as the work of God without calling or love, it will be a work in which we go through all the motions without the blessing or the reward when we stand in the presence of our dear Saviour.
B. Consequences To The Church!
Everything I do and say is a reflection on my fellow believers in this church. The purity of the church is essential if we are to make progress and effectively serve God. Since we know that God blesses a church that is a saved church, Satan wants to infiltrate the church with unbelievers, that way it’s difficult to tell the tares from the wheat and so easily a church can be rendered useless. Because everything I do and say reflects on my fellow Christians then I must not only be a saved church member, I must also be a surrendered church member, submissive to the Lord and leadership.
Paul writing to the Thessalonians in his first letter Chapter 1 v 6 says,
"You became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit."
The Thessalonians church didn’t have it easy. In fact, any church that is saved and surrendered to Christ is going to have a difficult time. Now, although Demas may have thought it would be easier back home in Thessalonica, can you imagine what his kind of attitude would do to the church there, it would have a devastating effect on that group of strong believers and indeed could do them positive harm. Perhaps now we begin to understand why Paul was marking Demas’ card. Paul loved this church in Thessalonica with a whole heart; he had been responsible for their commencement and was concerned they would stand in the day of persecution, not like Demas, run away!
"God could have kept Daniel out of the lions' den. . . he could have kept Paul and Silas out of jail. . . he could have kept the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace. . . but God has never promised to keep us out of hard places . . . what he has promised is to go with us through every hard place, and to bring us through victoriously." Merv Rosell.
C. Consequences To The Christ!
This church at Thessalonica was not only a saved church and a surrendered church but they were a soul-winning church. How did they become so? Firstly they spread the gospel by living exemplary lives.
Paul said of them, 1 Thess. 1 v 7.
"You were an example to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia"
Other people could look at these Thessalonians and be attracted by what they saw. Amazingly it took the Thessalonians only a few weeks to establish a life-style that displayed total and complete surrender to Christ, they quickly became like Jesus Christ! They set a pattern for everyone else, including the believers to follow.
Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church California tells how his first sermon in that church was entitled, "How to play church."
In Luke 6 v 46 Jesus says, "Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Reminiscent of that verse is a painting in the cathedral of Lubeck, Germany, entitled "The Lament of Jesus Christ Against the Ungrateful World." The corresponding text reads,
You call me master, and obey me not; You call me light and see me not;
You call me the way, and walk me not; You call me life, and live me not;
You call me wise, and follow me not; You call me fair, and love me not;
You call me rich, and ask me not; You call me eternal, and seek me not.
If I condemn thee, blame me not.
Demas thought he knew many things and especially the way he should take, the one thing he did not know was the shepherd of the sheep.
A friend invited an old pastor, forced to retire because of voice problems, to a high-society luncheon. The person heading up that gathering requested a famous actor who was present to recite something for the guests. Agreeing to do so he requested the guests they would suggest a suitable piece. All was quiet for a moment, then the old pastor suggested the twenty-third Psalm. "That’s an unusual request, but I happen to know it. I’ll do it on one condition, though: you recite it after me." The old pastor had not expected that but agreed. The actor stood up and recited the twenty-third Psalm with great intonation of his lyrical voice. When he finished, everyone applauded. The old pastor then stood to his feet and went through the Psalm in his own way his voice crackling. When he finished, there was not a dry eye in the room. Sensing the emotion of the moment, the actor said, "You clapped for me, but you wept for him. The difference is obvious: I knew the Psalm, he knows the Shepherd!
My brothers and sisters be careful of the way you take, walk constantly with the Shepherd and you will always take the right pathway!