Theological error. Church tensions. Leadership challenges. Ministry responsibilities. These are just a few realities that can distract a church from its mission. Challenges and changes are inevitable in the life of the church. But for a church to be healthy, it must realize that God’s redemptive work through the gospel is central (in belief and practice).

One of the primary reasons we are studying through 1 Timothy is so that we can learn how to guard the gospel in the church in both our orthodoxy (doctrine) and orthopraxy (ethics). We are responsible for right beliefs and behaviors.

At Wilkesboro Baptist, we began this series on Sunday January 30. Our study through 1 Timothy will take us through the end of May. This pastoral epistle is good for our church.

But it is not to the ministry only that these Epistles are of so much value. They are of scarcely less importance to the church at large. Its vitality; its purity; its freedom from strife; its zeal and love and triumph in spreading the gospel, depend on the character of the ministry. If the church will prosper from age to age, the pulpit must be filled with a pious, learned, laborious, and devoted ministry, and one of the first cares of the church should be that such a ministry should be secured. This great object cannot better be attained than by keeping the instructions in these Epistles steadily before the minds of the members of the church; and though a large part of them is particularly adapted to the ministers of the gospel, yet the church itself can in no better way promote its own purity and prosperity than by a prayerful and attentive study of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.

Albert Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy.

Our study through 1 Timothy will help us as church to prayerfully seek God’s blessing and direction for the ministries and mission of Wilkesboro Baptist Church. If you are not part of our church but would like to follow along in our study, check out the media page on our website. You can also follow along by subscribing to our podcasts.

I believe deeply in the value of theology for spiritual formation. In fact, the purpose of growing deeper in our understanding of God is to become more faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Our mission at Wilkesboro Baptist Church is to lead our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus by worshiping, learning, serving, and replicating. Learning about Christ and about our beliefs and behaviors is a significant part of following Jesus.

In addition to our study through 1 Timothy, we are adjusting our church schedule beginning March 2022. Wednesday nights since Covid have been another worship service that we have recorded for our streaming platforms on Sundays. We’ll continue streaming on Sundays at 11 each week with some modifications to the service. We plan to record from the 8 am service and upload for those who are still watching and worshiping at home.

For Wednesday nights, we will go back to a doctrinal Bible study in our sanctuary at 6 pm. We’re calling it: Doctrine and Devotion: Theological Reflections for Spiritual Formation. Each week, we’ll look at a specific doctrine, find its biblical anchor, discuss its place in theology, and link it to devotional application. If you are able, we ask that you join us in person for this doctrinal study. If you are unable to join us, we plan to record and offer each week as a regular podcast.

Frank Sheed puts it this way:

A virtuous man may be ignorant, but ignorance is not a virtue. It would be a strange God Who could be loved better bay being known less. Love of God is not the same thing as knowledge of God; but if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more from knowing more about Him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving him.

Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity (quoted by R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell in 1-2 Timothy: Guard the Deposit).

The more we learn about the God who loves us, the better able we will be to love him and fulfill our church’s mission.

This past weekend, the United States celebrated Independence Day. Two hundred and forty five years ago, the signers of the Declaration penned their names to a treasonous statement of freedom.

The subsequent victory in the War for Independence led these newly free colonies to create a government. The United States is the one greatest political experiments in human history. Combining Judeo/Christian principles with Enlightenment ideals, the founders gave the world a model for representative government. The Constitution and Bill of Rights have been unparalleled in simplicity and clarity in its written limitations on the government.

As a follower of Jesus and citizen of the United States, I am deeply grateful for the religious freedoms provided in the Constitution. Many billions across the world know no such freedoms. Followers of Jesus in many nations must meet in secret to worship Christ.

With the freedoms we have in the United States, we are in danger of taking those freedoms for granted. My hope is that the isolation and limitations we experienced during Covid-19 pandemic serves to motivate us in expressing our religious freedom by living out our faith regularly and faithfully.

I also hope that we will develop a burden for the unreached peoples of the world in praying for gospel witness to be made available to them.

One of the more striking mission declarations in the Bible is the promise of Revelation 5.

Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:1-10 (emphasis mine)

In this vision, John witnesses the praise of heaven. In that praise, heaven affirms that every people group and language will be represented in heaven.

According to the joshuaproject, there are roughly 17,500 total people groups in the world with nearly 7,500 of those groups considered unreached. Unreached groups are those without a gospel witness in their language.

From Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, and Revelation 5, it is God’s desire that people groups all over the world hear the good news about Jesus. Therefore, the mission of leading our neighbors and the nations to follow Jesus is part of our responsibility. While we must pray for our neighbors and share the good news where we are, we must also be willing to send the gospel to those who’ve never heard the message of Christ.

One of the best ways to be attentive to our calling to unreached people groups is to pray for them. For each month at Wilkesboro Baptist, we’ve chosen an unreached people group to pray for.

Our prayer group for the month of July, 2021 are the Kazahk people group of Kazahkstan. The Kazahks have about 16,000,000 people in 25 countries, though around 12,000,000 of them live in Kazahkstan. They are predominantly Muslim. Devastated by the Russian Civil War of the early twentieth century, many Kazahks were displaced. They are currently searching for an identity and desperately need the hope and identity that can be found in Jesus Christ. There is a small Christian population (.10% or 1/10 of 1% of the national population). They are still considered unreached. You can read more about Kazahk people here as well as discover specific prayer points for this people group.

Would you take some time today to pray for the small group of Jesus followers among the Kazahk people? Would you pray for the many millions who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ? Would you take a moment to use your freedom to pray for this unreached people group and the unreached peoples of the world?