Impact session 12: Ken Ramey – Set apart for the Master’s use

Disclaimer: If you’ll forgive the incomplete sentences, these are my hastily scribbled notes from Impact conference 2010. As always with notes, an exactly accurate representation of the sermon isn’t always possible, so this may not summarise his entire message perfectly. I think the full sermons will be available eventually from Riverbend Bible Church, where the conference was held — would have to check back on that.

(UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages)

– Cheryl

Subject: 2 Timothy 2:20-22, starting at 2 Timothy 2:14

[14] Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. [15] Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. [16] But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, [17] and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, [18] who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. [19] But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
[20] Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. [21] Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
[22] So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. [23] Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. [24] And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, [25] correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, [26] and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

1. Wanted to thank for this opportunity. Great encouragement at Impact by fellowshipping together.

2. Sanctification results in service. Being made holy needs to bring glory to God.
2.1. In order to be useful to God, we need to be pure. God uses clean instruments, ie, those who are completely set aside for his work, devoted to him.
2.2. God can choose to use dirty vessels if he wishes, but that is not the norm. See the law of cleanliness for priests. They were required to keep themselves clean, otherwise they would be killed (bells on the robe, and rope around the ankle when the high priest went into the inner sanctuary) – such was the holiness of God.
2.3. God sovereignly wished Israel to be set apart: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy.”
2.4. But Israel did not set themselves apart – and as a result, forfeited their usefulness.

3. Paul exhorting Timothy to be a holy minister, commentator: “to be an awful weapon in the hands of God”
3.1. 1 Tim 1:3 – to make sure the gospel is kept pure, to make sure that strange doctrines not taught.
3.2. Needed to trust his eternal security and affirm it by his holiness.
3.3. Church is ultimately impregnable (Jesus WILL build his church), but it’s still imperfect. Not everyone associated with the household of God is known to him. In Matthew, Jesus relates the parable of the wheat and the tares. The owner of the field did not pull out the tares immediately, lest he risk pulling out true wheat along with the false. He instructed that the servants should allow both to grow together, then at the harvest time they should gather up the tares and bind them to be burnt, but bring the wheat into the barn.
3.4. In the meantime, the wheat should set itself apart to maximise its usefulness to Jesus.

4. How do we do this? A 3-part explanation. #1: Part with unholy associations.
4.1. In a large house there are many vessels – gold and silver (reserved for special occasions, displayed in a prominent place), as well as of wood and earthenware (used for menial tasks or unpleasant jobs such as collecting garbage). Some serve higher, more noble services than others.
4.2. This does not represent different levels of giftedness but Romans 9 tells us there are different types of teachers. Gold and silver represent true teachers who are useful to the LORD, wood and earthenware those teachers who are less useful to Him. The former are honourable in God’s eyes, while the latter are dishonourable in God’s eyes.
4.3.1. We must purify ourselves from vessels of dishonour – their attitudes/beliefs will potentially corrupt you. We need to separate ourselves from what would contaminate us.
4.3.2. Bad company corrupts good morals. You will become like the people you hang around. Sin is contagious.
4.3.3. An immoral teacher in the church may be more dangerous than atheists or pagans.
4.4. 2 Cor 6:14 – Separate from unbelievers, do not be bound with unbelievers. Not that we should cut off all relationships with them, but we should keep a safe distance from them. In our effort to influence them, we must make sure they are not influencing us.
4.5. Also separate from so-called believers. 1 Cor 5 describes not those of the world but those who call themselves Christian but are living in sin. We are not commanded to have no relationship with them, but rather that we should not fellowship with them. If you get together with them, the sole purpose of the interaction should be to restore them to God.
4.6. Result of cleansing yourself from these things, you’ll be set apart from sin for God’s use. God is absolutely sovereign and is our master. You will be ready for God’s use – equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16
4.7. Eph 2:8-10 – We are not saved by works but FOR works.
4.8. Summary: Are the people we associate with influencing us to unholiness? Do we have to part ways with those people?

5. How? #2: Flee from unholy passions. 2 Tim 2:22
5.1. A continuous command: keep on fleeing, a habitual pattern.
5.2. Advice to Timothy, a “young man” – despite your youth, set the example of what a Christian should look like, and you will earn their respect regardless of their age.
5.3. Sexual lusts – these characterise young men. The image of Joseph fleeing youthful lust.
5.4. Other passions include impatience (not willing to work for change over time), impetuousness, intolerance, impugnance.
5.4.1. Put distance between us and anything that could fan our lusts into flame.
5.4.2. “I wanted the power of the Holy Spirit that night – if that’s what you want, you have to stay holy.”

6. How? #3: Pursue holiness with likeminded companions
6.1. Flee unholiness and pursue righteousness. Don’t be shortsighted on what to stop in your sanctification, you need to get to the “put on.”
6.2. Focus on the holiness to be pursued, and the unholiness will take care of itself.
6.3. * Pursue love.
6.3.1. Chase after God in your love to your saviour.
6.3.2. Also love for others.
6.4. * Pursue peace. As far as it is up to you, be at peace with others.
6.4.1. People get so easily offended.
6.4.2. Prov 11 – it’s to your glory to overlook offence. More sanctified people are less easily offended.
6.4.3. Be diligent to get along with people and maintain unity in the spirit. Pursue patience, gentleness, tolerance.
6.5. * The likeminded believer – those who call on the name of the LORD with a pure heart (ie, continued dependence on Jesus’ strength). You will never become holy as God is holy on your own. You need the help of the body of Christ.
6.5.1. Encourage one another day after day. During the week we are emotionally/mentally hardened against the world; on Sunday there’s a softening.
6.5.2. Ecclesiastes 4:8. Woe to him who falls and there is not another to pick him up.
6.5.3. Must pursue with someone who cares what they look at, think about, listen to.
6.6. * The ungodly friend – a sharp tool in Satan’s hand. You become like the people you hang around.

7. Our usefulness is proportional to our holiness. Thus, if we want to be used by the Master, we must pursue righteousness.
7.1. John Stott: the secret of holiness is merely the ruthless rejection of the one, AND relentless pursuit of the other.


Impact session 11: Russell Hohneck – The highway of humility

If you’ll forgive the incomplete sentences, these are my hastily scribbled notes from the Impact conference session 11 by Russell Hohneck. As always with notes, an exactly accurate representation of the sermon isn’t always possible, so this may not summarise his entire message perfectly. I think the full sermons will be available eventually from Riverbend Bible where the conference was held – would have to check back on that.

(UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages)

– Cheryl


Subject: Philippians 2:5-11

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1. When we’re out in the world like dispirins in a glass of water, we get a bit theologically fuzzy around the edges – this conference has been great for hardening them again.
1.1. (Last night, I said that you don’t get credit for this conference. I take that back – because Jesus already gave you an A!) God’s taken all of our fail marks and put them on Jesus, and taken his pass mark and put it on all of us. And now the assignment is to live out what we’ve been made.
1.2. The author describes other sins beside sexual: matters of unity (ch1), of considering others before ourselves (ch2), and of specific people arguing in the church (ch4).
1.3. They are not “gross sins,” but they are still sinful.
1.4. Jesus steps down to the deepest depths of hell to cover even the smallest sins.
1.5. Paul wanted to attain (3:10) the actual resurrection body – he wanted to know Jesus so much that he wanted no sin.
1.6. An overview: Paul writes of the highway of humility. It’s the low way, but it leads to glory – how to walk with one another. This overview unfolds into everywhere in Scripture to give us an understanding of holiness.

2. Jesus stepped down from glory
2.1.1. Christ eternally existed in the form of God (form – morphe) – not external but the inner and essential nature of the being, ie, Christ’s preincarnate state, which was essentially God.
2.1.2. This is a statement about the divine nature of Christ. God exists in Christ. Christ is therefore God in the flesh.
2.2.1. However, he did not regard equality with God somethign to be held close.
2.2.2. Compare how Satan viewed the Godhead as a prize to be grasped and taken. In contrast, divinity already belonged to Jesus in the first place. In Satan there was no humility, but Jesus in his humility was willing to let it go.
2.3. Willing to step down that we might step up.
2.3.1 How? We should put aside security in the bank account, security in friends, security in power… Anything we hold higher than Christ, we should let go, and be humble.

3. He stepped into lowliness
3.1. He emptied himself of his existence in a manner-equal-to-God. He didn’t give up his divinity, but gave up his right to express himself in glory. He clothed himself in humanity.
3.2. Took on the form of a bond-slave. He didn’t take on a mask but had the inner nature of the bond-servant. No discrepancy between his external actions and internal heart attitudes.
3.3. “and being made in the likeness of man” – He takes on the outward appearance of man. Unesteemed.
3.4. Ps 22:6-8 – [iʃ] – man, meaning noble man. “I am not a [man]” – I am not a noble man. Despite that he is actually the highest of men, he becomes the lowest and worst of men. Christ was shamed that we might not be.
3.5. Ps 69:9

4. He stepped into death – the lowest death.
4.1. He suffered at the hand of men.
4.1.1. There is no greater pain we can face that Christ has not faced.
4.1.2. Accursed of God – sorrow upon sorrow. He was separated from God, on our behalf.
4.1.3. Ps 22 – “poured out like water” – this is referring to the Saviour.
4.2. He also suffered from the hordes of hell. We know this because Satan and his minions have a continuing & eternal hatred for God.
4.2.1. At Jesus’ crucifixion, his lowest point, even lower than his temptation in the desert, even more would he have been surrounded by all demonic powers.
4.2.2. Jesus did not summon angels to his aid.
4.2.3. In the upper room: “Where I am going, you cannot come”
4.3. He suffers at the hand of God
4.3.1. His father forsook him. Martin Luther exclaimed, “God has forsaken God!” Left him destitute in his hour of extreme need, that we might never be failed by God.
4.3.2. Because of this, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
4.3.3. Jesus became sin & thus had to be separated from God. He is the sin-bearer.

5. For this reason, God highly exalted him.
5.1. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

syndicated from

Impact 2010 – Day 3 recap

Saturday was Day 3 at Impact Bible Conference, where Cheryl and I have been for this Queens Birthday Weekend. In amidst the awesome time of fellowship, we sat under another day of solid, Spirit-empowered preaching.

General Session 6: Ken Ramey – Holy Habits

Ken Ramey continued on from his previous sermon by outlining five holy habits the church at Ephesus were tasked to work on in their ongoing sanctification (Eph 4:25-27). Five exchanges in the text were outlined, such as exchanging falsehood for truthfulness; unrighteous for righteous anger; stealing for sharing; corrupt for constructive speech; meanness for kindness, and bitterness for forgiveness. The most important point Ken made was that this was not an exhaustive list, but rather served as examples of holy habits. We need to make our own “five-most-wanted-list” of holy habits to nurture in our ongoing sanctification, working out not just what bad habits to stop but the Biblical alternative to put in its place. A list like this would be useful for personal devotions, to pray about, and to do detailed bible study on. Ken challenged each of us to use a list like this in our lives, and I think many people will (myself included) after hearing this.

General Session 7: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding the Doctrine of Assurance and it’s Relationship to Sanctification

In this sermon Scott explained correct and incorrect explanations of the assurance of a believer’s salvation. He went through the book of 1 John to highlight three ways to know if a person were truly saved. Firstly, there is the subjective testimony of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart and life (Romans 8:16, 1 John 3:24) – not that of altar calls, other believers, or outreach rally workers. Then there is the objective testimony of a life of obedience (1 John 2:4-10, 1 John 3:7-9) – a true believer is *never* comfortable sinning. Thirdly, there is an objective testimony of love for the brethren (1 John 2:19, 1 John 2:9, 1 John 3:10). I thought Scott made a good point when he said that if you were bothered about your sin, you’re saved – those who don’t follow Jesus are apathetic to their sin.

General Session 8: Ken Ramey – Sexual Sanctification

Ken closed the Saturday evening with a timely exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. He drew from the text seven practical principles to make sexual purity possible: us married couples need to strive for holiness in this area too! This sermon is highly recommended for every parent, spouse, and young adult to hear. The way the bible reframes sex back into God’s original intent and design is refreshing in a culture that idolises and glamourises it. Many of us left that evening challenged and thankful for the message.


During a bit of free time on Saturday we made a quick trip to nearby Te Mata Peak. The views from the top were great, and we enjoyed taking pictures from the summit. We were also sighted a daring paraglider who launched in front of us – I didn’t get a photo but I think Rob did.

Blog updates:
Twitter updates: (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages


Impact 2010 – Day 2 recap

We woke up to a magnificent view of the sun peering over the Pacific Ocean. We’ve been staying with a kind and gracious host family who have a beautiful house in Haumoana, right by the beachfront. It’s a home full of character: poster-sized family photo prints across the walls, ornate bronze tap fittings, a cosy lounge and fireplace.

So Sean drove us down to Riverbend for the second day of Impact Bible Conference. It was another full day of teaching which we were immensely grateful for.


General Session 3: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding our Freedom from Sin

Scott took us through Ephesians 1:1-4 to help understand our freedom from sin and explained six aspects of our salvation: it has a definite author (God), method (election), object (believers), foundation (in Jesus Christ), time (becore the dawn of time, so no one can snatch us out), and a purpose: that we would be holy before Him. It was convicting to assess my life: “He didn’t save you to look like everyone else!” As expected some questions in Q&A questioned the doctrine of election, which Scott addressed with grace and clarity.

General Session 4: Ken Ramey – The New You

Ken took us through Ephesians 4:17-24 to illustrate a “before-and-after” view of a Christian called to holiness. Four elements of our divine makeover were expanded upon: we have received Christ, we have repented of our sins, we are renewed in our minds, and we are recreated in the likeness of God. “Being holy as a Christian is a divine obligation.” Once again, another great exposition.

General Session 5: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding the Deception of Sin

This was an evening session where Scott unpacked how sin unfolds in a person’s life as outlined in James 1:14-16. He went through the passage’s description of how sin operates: from lust’s sinful desire, to its shameful deception, to it’s sickening disobedience, to separation and death. Any one who takes an honest look at themselves will see something in their life that has manifested in this way, and I was no exception. I also found it helpful to hear Scott explain that the term lust in itself is not always negative. For example, in 1 Tim 3:1 Paul explains that a man who seeks to be an elder desires a fine work – this is the same word in the Greek (epithunea). Utterly convicting to the depth of my heart.


Cheryl and I also attended Peter’s mid-morning seminar, which was a brutally honest assessment of the personal cost of being in spiritual leadership. I know I developed a greater appreciation of our pastor as a result, and I definitely agree with Paul that faithful pastors are “worthy of double honour” (1 Tim 5:17).

Blog updates:
Twitter updates: (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages


Impact 2010 – Day 1 recap

It’s been a long but rewarding day for me and Cheryl. We’re mentally decompressing from an awesome first day at Impact 2010 Bible Conference, sitting here reflecting on the day just gone.

The drive down was relatively uneventful- we left at 7 a.m., had a filling lunch at Pizza Hut, and made it to Riverbend Bible Church (where the conference is being hosted) before 3 p.m. Already we’ve bumped into brothers and sisters we’ve met at previous events (e.g. the STAND conference we hosted in April), and it’s been great to meet new folk as well. I’m looking forward to the rest of the conference – 4 more days of solid biblical teaching and fellowship!

There were two sermons today; one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Once I have my notes up I’ll update the section headings below with more notes and quotes, here’s what I could type up for now.

General Session 1: Scott Ardavanis – Understanding the Relationship of Justification and Sanctification

Scott broke down the difference between justification (where we’re positionally made right with God) and sanctification (where we are made more and more holy like Christ).

On justification:

  • it’s defined as the legal act of God in which he declares a sinner righteous in the sight of a just and holy God.
  • it means sin is removed: Scott explained it worked in a way analogous to one pressing the “Clear” button on a calculator (Psalm 32, Psalm 103:12)
  • it’s through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-30)
  • it’s only through faith in the finished work of Christ, not on account of it (i.e. it’s not the fact we have faith that saves us but what we have faith in). Scott pointed out that this is markedly different from the Roman Catholic view of justification which they believe is through Sacraments such as infant baptism, penance and other rituals. Instead of these, however, Romans 3:28 clearly denotes that justification is “apart from works of the law”.
  • it’s where the righteousness of Christ is given. It’s not enough that our sin is removed – we need the Christ’s righteousness imputed onto us to be children of God

On sanctification:

  • Objective sanctification is where God has imputed holiness onto us (1 Cor 6:9-11, Acts 20:32)
  • Progressive sanctification is the process of being holy in this life. It’s both a progressive work of God and a work of believers

The biggest point I took out of this sermon, though, was that justification and sanctification are inextricably linked: if you’ve genuinely been justified, you will be sanctified. An important bible doctrine to consider for many Christians who mix the two up or confuse them to the detriment of their assurance of salvation, or knowledge of it.

General Session 2: Ken Ramey – The Pursuit of Holiness

Ken was our pastor’s seminary classmate and preached on the pursuit of holiness from 1 Peter 1:13-16:

1. Context: 1 peter ch1:1
1.1. Supreme attribute of God is holiness. The setting for showing off the other attributes of God, as a crown shows off the jewels.
1.2. We must seek it. Be holy, because I am holy.

2. Definition of holy: in Hebrew or Greek – to be cut apart, set apart.
2.1. From creation. Holiness describes how he is infinitely unapproachable by us.
2.1.1. From evil. His eyes are too pure to look at sin. Cannot tolerate sin in his presence. Must punish sin.
2.2. How does God make us holy?
2.2.1. Through Jesus. Understanding our sinfulness (repenting) lets us understand his holiness. Curtain torn meant God is now accessible to us. Clothed in the holiness of Christ. Our holiness depends entirely on the work of Christ. God imparts his holiness to us through Christ.
2.2.2. A holiness we must pursue. Sanctification: being set apart from sin. #1 duty is to be different from what we used to be. Primary evidence of salvation is a decreasing frequency of sin, and an increasing sensitivity to sin.


As always, the food was great: chicken korma and rice for dinner tonight.

Alright, it’s time for bed – hope you are all well!


Blog updates:
Twitter updates: (using the hashtag #IMPACT2010)
UPDATE: Download the messages from the conference here: Impact 2010 messages