SERMON TOPIC: Faithfulness

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 2 June 2019


Sermon synopsis: You do not have to worry about whether or not you will succeed. That's God's business. Yours is to be faithful.

Oxford dictionary: Faithful: Loyal, trustworthy.

Someone said, that simply put, being faithful is saying 'you can count on me'

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2 Timothy 4:3. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but wanting to have their ears tickled [with something pleasing], they will accumulate for themselves [many] teachers [one after another, chosen] to satisfy their own desires and to support the errors they hold

Being a faithful witness.

Ezekiel 3:10-11. He said to me: Human one, listen closely, and take to heart every word I say to you. Then go to the exiles, to your people’s children. Whether they listen or not, speak to them and say: The LORD God proclaims!

Most Christians know that they should be sharing their faith with others, that this is part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

But, most Christians feel very uneasy about this duty. Many, if not most, rarely share their faith with others. Some refrain because they don’t want to look foolish in the eyes of their co-workers.

Some hold back because they don’t want to offend anyone.

Being a faithful witness.

Many strong believers choose not to share their faith because they fear that they won’t do it right.

They fear they’ll mess up the message or be unable to answer unexpected questions, so they don’t talk about it.

In this passage, the Lord told Ezekiel to take his word to heart and then to share it with the Jewish exiles in Babylon, where Ezekiel was himself an exile. God told him to speak, (3:11). “whether they listen or not” You do not have to worry about whether or not you will succeed. That’s God’s business. Yours is to be faithful.

Oxford dictionary: Faithful: Loyal, trustworthy.

Someone said, that simply put, being faithful is saying “you can count on me”

Being a faithful witness.

God doesn’t ask that we succeed in everything, but that we are faithful. Mother Teresa

Health and Wealth preachers try to convince people that worldly success is the goal and result (or at least the indicator) of being a good Christian. This could not be further from the authentic Christian message, yet this is what many people see and believe.

It just sets them up for disappointment and ends up undermining what faith they do have.

The above quote keeps that in perspective. Our primary goal should not be to have success – whatever form that might take.

It should be to remain faithful.

Some successful people are going to hell.

Matthew 7:21-23.

Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?

Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

Qualifications of Overseers faithfulness not success.

1 Timothy 3:2-10.

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Qualifications of Overseers faithfulness not success.

1 Timothy 3:1-10.

Deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.

They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

Being a faithful witness.

1 Corinthians 4:1-7.

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.

At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Being a faithful witness.

1 Corinthians 4:1-7. (continued)

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying,

“Do not go beyond what is written.”

Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.

For who makes you different from anyone else?

What do you have that you did not receive?

And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Trained as a shoemaker, William Carey became known as the 'father of modern missions' for his missionary work in India. The story goes that in 1787, he suggested that all Christians had a duty to share the gospel around the world, after which he was told: "Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid and mine."

Undeterred, however, he founded the Baptist Missionary Society five years later in 1792, preaching a message during which he said one of his most famous quotes: "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God".

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

The next year, he travelled to India with his family, but his struggles continued. He saw no conversions for seven years, his son Peter died of dysentery and his wife's mental health deteriorated rapidly.

"This is indeed the valley of the shadow of death to me," Carey wrote at the time. "But I rejoice that I am here notwithstanding; and God is here."

But in 1800, he baptized his first convert to Christianity, and over more than 20 years went on to translate the Bible into dozens of major Indian languages and dialects.

He also founded Serampore College to train local ministers.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Born in Aberdeen, Mary Slessor became missionary to Nigeria under the United Presbyterian Church's Foreign Mission Board. Aged just 28, she sailed to West Africa in August 1876 and was assigned to the Calabar region.

This was where the Efik people lived; a community that believed in traditional West African religions and had particular superstition of twins, who were often killed or abandoned.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Slessor saved hundreds of children during her time in Nigeria; even adopting one young girl as her own daughter. She also travelled to dangerous regions where previous male missionaries had been killed. She championed women's rights, and set up a mission hospital for the local people.

Slessor suffered from serious bouts of malaria and other tropical diseases, and was forced on more than one occasion to return to Scotland to recover.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Jim Elliot was among a group of US missionaries who felt called to share Christ's teaching with the Waodani tribe in Ecuador in the 1950s. At the time, the Waodani were one of the most violent known people groups on earth, who regularly practiced homicide and fiercely defended their territory against those wishing to exploit the rich Amazonian land.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Elliot and his fellow missionaries initiated contact with the tribe after being taught some of their language; first by dropping gifts down from a plane and later establishing a camp not far from the Waodani settlement.

In January 1956, however, the five men were killed by members of the tribe as they approached them in person for the first time with the hopes of sharing the gospel.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

The story generated worldwide news coverage, and Elliot's wife, Elisabeth, has since written a bestselling book entitled 'Through the Gates of Splendor’ about her husband's journey. Jim's journal, which famously features the quote "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose", has also been read by thousands of believers around the world.

Amazingly, Elisabeth and the sister of another of the missionaries, Rachel, were introduced to the Waodani just two years after their murder, and were invited to live among the tribe. Many of them came to faith.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Gladys Aylward was a British evangelical Christian missionary to China in the 20th century. Having been raised in North London in a working class family, she initially worked as a housemaid, but had a long-harboured dream of becoming a missionary, and was convinced of her calling to China. She was rejected by the China Inland Mission after failing to pass the necessary exams, but agreed to work for a 73-year-old missionary, Jeannie Lawson, who was looking for a young woman to carry on her work in the country. When Lawson died, Aylward ran the mission alone.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

She went on to serve in the Chinese government as a 'foot inspector' – visiting women all over the country to make sure they were following the new law against foot-binding – which she saw as part of her missionary work.

She also adopted a number of orphans, leading around 100 to safety during the Japanese occupation, and became known as 'Ài Wěi Dé', meaning 'Virtuous One’.

She died aged 67 in 1970, and her story was made into a film – 'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness'.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

Charles Thomas Studd was a famous English cricketer who went on to be a missionary to China, Africa and India.

The youngest of the Studd Brothers, who were known for their cricket skills at Eton and Cambridge, Charles played in the first Test match between England vs Australia where the Ashes were named.

He was converted to Christianity along with his brothers while at Eton. Of the moment he met God for the first time, he said: "right then and there joy and peace came into my soul.

I knew then what it was to be 'born again,' and the Bible which had been so dry to me before, became everything."

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

When he decided to give up sport to pursue a career as a missionary, he said: "I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come."

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

In his twenties, he served in the China Inland Mission, where he married missionary Priscilla Livingstone Stewart. They lived in China for 10 years, but moved back to the UK due to ill health, before serving in India at a church in Ootacamund.

Later, Prisilla and the couple's four daughters stayed in England, while Charles worked in Central Africa until his death in 1931.

The faithful witness of early missionaries.

According to his biography by Norman Grubb, in one of his last letters home, Studd wrote: "As I believe I am now nearing my departure from this world, I have but a few things to rejoice in; they are these:

That God called me to China and I went in spite of utmost opposition from all my loved ones.

That I joyfully acted as Christ told that rich young man to act.

That I deliberately at the call of God, when alone on the Bibby liner in 1910, gave up my life for this work, which was to be henceforth not for the Sudan only, but for the whole unevangelized World.

My only joys therefore are that when God has given me a

work to do, I have not refused it."

Examples of faithfulness regardless of success.

Noah preached for 120 years without a single convert.

Genesis 6:9.

This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Genesis 6:22.

Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

After 120 years of preaching, only Noah his 3 sons and their wives entered the ark.

Examples of faithfulness regardless of success.

John the Baptist.

John 10:40-42.

and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there.

It is interesting to note that in the requirements laid out for Overseers (Elders) and Deacons, no mention is made about how many converts they have made or miracles they have done, it is character that is important.

Examples of faithfulness regardless of success.

Would you class John as a success?

Matthew 11:2.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?

Jesus replied, Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

Examples of faithfulness regardless of success.

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John:

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see?

A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces.

Then what did you go out to see? A prophet?

Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.”

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist;

Would you consider the Apostle Paul a success?

2 Corinthians 11:23-28.

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

A Pastor’s resume.

A certain church somewhere was looking for a pastor. The search committee was reviewing resumes, and they came across one that said this: I have many qualifications. I've been a preacher with much success, and also had some success as a writer. Some say I'm a good organizer. I've been a leader most places I've been. I am over 50 years of age. I have never preached in one place more than three years.

In some places I have left town after my work has caused riots and disturbances. I must admit I have been in jail three or four times, but not because of any wrongdoing.

My health is not too good, though I still get a great deal done. The churches I have preached in have been small, though located in several large cities. I've not got along too well with religious leaders in towns where I have preached.

A Pastor’s resume.

In fact, some have threatened me and even attacked me physically. I am not too good at keeping records.

I have been known to forget whom I have baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you." The chair of the committee addressed the others: "What do you think? Shall we consider him?"

The others were aghast. Hire an unhealthy, trouble-making, absent-minded, ex-jailbird? Was the chair crazy?

Who was this applicant anyway? Who would have such colossal nerve? The chair glanced down at the bottom of the page. It's signed, she said, "The Apostle Paul.“

And therein lies the problem, John the Baptist, Paul the Apostle and even Jesus himself, would not qualify to preach in many of the “Successful Churches today”

Success or faithfulness.

Don’t judge by results. Moses disobeyed the Lord and struck the rock the 2nd time and the Lord still caused water to flow out for the thirsty Israelites.

Numbers 20:9-12.

Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink. So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock? Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not trust in me enough to honour me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.

Success or faithfulness.

The Lord can save people even when preachers preach with wrong motives.

Philippians 1:15-18.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.

The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Was Jesus successful?

Jesus only left a group of 120 faithful believers who after His resurrection continued to pray in the upper room for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. He ended off His ministry as a servant, washing His disciples feet.

Luke 22:24-26.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.

God measures greatness by how many people we serve.

But: The world measures greatness by how many people serve us.

Success means getting noticed.

Jesus was tempted to be spectacular by Satan.

Matthew 4:5-6. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, he said, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

Success means getting noticed.

Jesus was tempted to be spectacular by man.

Jesus was mockingly told by the Pharisees that if he was the Christ he must come down from the cross.


He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.”

James Allan Francis

Jesus has not called us to build His Church.

Matthew 16:18.

On this rock I will build my church”

1 Corinthians 3:5-7.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

People who want to be successful are tempted to resort to worldly methods. Church growth that is focussed on drawing man’s heart and not God’s heart will not result in true revival.

True revival starts when Jesus is lifted up and He draws people to Himself.

What are the signs of a successful church? Matt Slick

A successful church can be measured in different ways, but the obvious two are God's standard and man's standard. Obviously, we should appeal to God's standard. This is because God is the one who increases the church (Acts 2:47), and we as Christians are obligated to preach the truth of God according to the Scriptures (Acts 5:29; 1 Corinthians 4:6). We should not measure success by how big a church gets, by how good the worship is, by how great the children's programs are, etc. We should measure the success of our local churches by how well God's word is preached, by how much the people are growing in their sanctification before Jesus, by if they are making disciples, and by how much they are honouring the Lord God through the person of Christ.

What are the signs of a successful church? Matt Slick

In other words, are they doing what they're supposed to be doing according to Scriptures, such as reaching the lost (Matthew 28:18-20), and of course preaching sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6; 6:3; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1)?

The last one is very important since a lot of churches are teaching false doctrines, such as saying that God always wanted us to be wealthy and healthy or that we are partially divine or that salvation is attained through being good and being faithful, etc.

What are the signs of a successful church? Matt Slick

Unfortunately, some people judge the success of a church based on how many books the pastor has written, if he has a popular radio or show, how many people attend the services, how much money is in the bank, or a combination of these. This is a human-centered success model and should be avoided. Pastors should never look to the number of people as a judgment of their success. Instead, they should constantly be asking God to give them the knowledge and the ability to preach his word to the people of God regardless of how many attend. He should seek to please God and judge the success of his ministry by how God is glorified, the word of God is preached in truth, and how the people in the congregation are growing in their obedience to Christ.

What are the signs of a successful church? Matt Slick

Now, there's nothing wrong with the pastor having a radio show, a TV show, or writing books. These things are fine as long as they are biblically centered, glorify Christ, and bring the truth of God's word to the people of God. But again, these things should not be the measure or standard of a successful church.

A successful church . . .

Focuses on the work of Christ on the cross (1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 6:14).

Teaches grace not legalism (Romans 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Teaches the truth of the word of God and its doctrine without compromise (1 Timothy 4:6; 6:3; Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:16).

What are the signs of a successful church? Matt Slick

Teaches the congregation to increase in sanctification (Galatians 5:16-18, 24; 5:22-23).

The elders are godly men who teach sound doctrine (Titus 1:5-9).

Promotes the increase in use of the spiritual gifts given to various individuals within the body (1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Peter 4:10).

Does not let political correctness influence preaching and teaching (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Is evangelistic (Matthew 28:19-20).

Takes care of widows (1 Timothy 5:3, 16).

Visits people in prison (Hebrews 13:3).

Takes care of orphans (James 1:27).

The Faith-worthies Hebrews 11:35-39.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about..; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated, the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith.


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