Title: Timothy’s Appointment to the Church at Ephesus
Text: 1 Timothy 1.3-7
March 2, 1962. Hershey, PA. Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points in one game. The record has been approached a couple of times but never broken. Kobe Bryant scored 81 points a few years back. My hero David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs scored 71 in one game. And, the night he set the record, he made 28 free throws out of 32. Here’s the thing about that: Chamberlain was a pitiful free throw shooter, but not that night. Normally, he would shoot in the 40% area. That night he shot nearly 90%. The difference? He shot his free throws underhanded.
But here’s an interesting tidbit of information: shortly afterward, Wilt Chamberlain went back to shooting his free throws overhead and his percentage plummeted once again.
Why? He tells us in his biography: I felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong. I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now, the best one in the NBA, Rick Barry, shoots underhanded. I just couldn’t do it.
Check that out…he says: I know I was wrong. He is saying the right thing to do – the best way for him to score on his free throws would be to shoot underhanded. But then he says he just couldn’t do it.
Here’s my question: I wonder how many men would have to shoot underhanded before he would have changed his style.
Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast on this topic (Revisionist History)– the idea that each of us has a threshold where we will surrender our beliefs about something. We have beliefs, but we don’t live by those beliefs all the time.
Gladwell gives the example of a teenager who drives a hundred miles an hour with three of his buddies in the car. He isn’t doing it because he believes it is the right thing to do. He probably believes it is wrong. His threshold for doing what he believes is so low, that he surrenders what he knows to be right to do something wrong. Consider if his grandma was driving that car. Do you think she would drive 100 miles per hour to impress his friends? Example: Do think Melodese would drive 100 miles per hour to impress her grandson’s friends? Or Debbie Raney doing the same thing to impress Regan’s friends? Their threshold for such activities is pretty high. Probably, untouchable.
Transition: Identifying this threshold in our lives is so very important.
Consider a leader in the church. The truth is that when a leader upsets people in the church something happens:
- Upset one person and that person might leave – taking their family, sometimes their friends, their tithe, and their opinions that they share with others in the community.
- Upset more than one person and you could have a potential church split.
- Upset enough people and you’re out of here…terminated.
So, people-pleasing is a tough dilemma for leadership. Leaders face a threshold like what Gladwell talks about in his podcast.
I wonder what it was like for young Timothy… Here is a young man who has to stand up to the likes of false teachers in his church, the church at Ephesus. Turn with me to 1 Timothy 1.3. Pg 932.
I’ve identified three parts to the overall passage of 1.1-11: A Bird’s Eye View of our Journey through 1 Timothy
- The Purpose of the Leader: His Charge (Week 1) v1-3
- The Purpose of the Letter: His Concern (Week 2) v3-7
- The Purpose of the Law: His Caution (Week 3) v8-11
We’re in the 2nd section: Paul’s Concern. In this section we note:
- The Assignment Paul has for young Timothy (v3-4)
- The Aim in standing up to these leaders (v5)
- The Assessment of the situation there in Ephesus (v6-7)
Let’s begin with…
I. The Assignment: to remain and charge (v3-4)
exp.: The assignment was to… rd v 3b; to remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…
- The Charge: Authority from Paul, now on Timothy; Authority of Paul is established in 1-2; an Apostle; by the command; God our Savior; Christ our hope; Now, Timothy has an Assignment and it comes under the Authority of Paul. This comes straight from the top! There is a direct line here in the chain of command; Specifics:
- Do not teach: a different doctrine; Gal 1:6-10; you see this in the churches in Galatia, but it is also evident in other letters of Paul. There is only one Gospel. Anything different is false. Note the threshold for Paul in v 10; You can’t make him preach something else to please men.
- Do not devote
- Myths and Endless genealogies: scholars don’t agree on what these endless genealogies were; probably something to do with Jewish ancestry; however, what is important is what chasing after these useless myths and endless genealogies did: it brought…
- Speculation v. Stewardship; I have no idea where this quote comes from. I wrote it down years ago and came across it this past week in my notes on this passage: Speculation without knowledge detracts from responsible execution of the ministry; and here’s why…
- Speculative knowledge is a type of theoretical knowledge. It is a knowledge that is gained through reflection without experience.
- Stewardship involves our use of not only the financial resources but our gifts, talents, abilities and time.
ill.: I.H. Marshall: …the label applied here and elsewhere in the PE may target not just the fallacious interpretation of OT passages but also applications of this material to conduct that contradicted traditional patterns of godly behavior.
app.: this is the danger of moving away from God’s Word and teaching from the way one feels about something.
t.s.: And Paul has given this particular assignment to Timothy to ‘charge’ these men not to teach false doctrine; But Paul gives Timothy a warning on how this is to be done; Rd v 5;
II. The Aim: love from… (v5)
exp.: the Gk word here is τέλος; the vb form of this word is τελέω (to bring to an end); this is the word from which we get “telescope” and others like it; it means to bring something which is far away much closer. This is how we get our word for goal or purpose. You plan your current situation so that you’ll arrive at the appropriate place. The purpose, The goal, The aim, The endgame is love.
- this verse changes the thought from the negative result of erroneous teaching to the motives of proper instruction within the church; The motive, the goal the aim is…
- Love (issues itself from Three Sources)
- A pure heart; καθαρᾶς 1John 1:9; the καρδία; is the center of the person; who we are before God; our true personality; the seat of our emotions; the origin of desires; This is what we are to love God with…’all of our heart’; Q.: seriously, who wants to bring an impure, dirty heart before God? No one, right?
- A good conscience; 2nd dimension of the inner person; this word isn’t found in the OT; the heart served in this capacity; in the NT it means a knowledge of good and bad; compound word, with (to gather) knowledge; This conscience isn’t the ultimate judge of right & wrong; it only serves us as a guide since it can be seared by sin; important: we think sin doesn’t affect us, but it does; what our eyes see, what our ears hear; what our senses experience, through time, slowly disconnect us from reality; we truly are in an age when evil is called good and good is called evil, where reality is called false and false is called reality. The media would have you believe you’re watching reality TV. John writes: Little Children, keep yourselves from sin. A pure heart brings a clear conscience. Note: the word good is sometimes translated clear, which would fit here well;
- A sincere faith; it appears the false teachers taught with an objective other than love, their goal: 1 Tim 6:5 ff; was their pockets;
- Love (issues itself from Three Sources)
app.: their endgame is not love! Their endgame was what they could get from these people…
t.s.: and so Paul placed Timothy there to confront these men, v 6ff tell us why; rd v 6-7;
III. The Assessment: Certain men have wandered off course (v6-7)
exp.: The problem: these men are ‘missing the mark’; they have wandered (turned); Certain people have lit.: “missed the mark”; they have deviated off course and wandered from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith); These people are the “false teachers of the Law”; this word, νομοδιδάσκαλοι teachers of the Law is found only 2 other times in the NT and clearly refers to teachers of the Mosaic Law; This Wandering leads to:
- Vain Discussion; ‘empty, fruitless discussions; kids are good at this; and that’s immaturity; “my uncle has some cows”; what’s bad is when adults do that; what’s worse is when teachers do that; what exactly were they doing? rd v 7
- Teaching without understanding (they are wrong)
- Application with error (they are sincerely wrong)
ill.: As a pastor, I have had people say to me: We don’t need more doctrine! What we need is more practical preaching! I think that means: don’t teach us, tell us stories.
app.: But can’t you see that doctrine is the basis for living? It is what you know from experiencing God’s Word as you live out his teaching for your life. My goal isn’t to motivate you to live a better life. This thing I do up here isn’t just about inspiration. My goal is to love you in such a way that it leads you to a closer relationship with God. And, I do not really love you if all I do is tell you what you want to hear!
Transition: The Church must keep great oversight on what is being taught and be willing to confront doctrine that is unhealthy. Our threshold must be high and not give in to what is popular or the current trend.
Conclusion: Wilt Chamberlain mentioned Rick Barry in his biography as the one person who would shoot his free throws underhanded. He also mentions that Rick Barry led the NBA in Free Throw percentage each year. Rick says that one year he missed only 9 shots. 9! And the next year, he only missed 10. To put that in perspective, Lebron James misses about 150 free throws a year. Rick Barry made 90% of his free throws throughout his career. Lebron James? 73%! Wilt Chamberlain? 50%!
What made Rick Barry not care about what others thought? Well, His goal wasn’t to please others. His goal was to make the shot. He really didn’t care what people thought about him. And, the fact that others made fun of him didn’t bother him. His threshold was incredibly high.
So let me ask you: how high of a threshold do you have toward others making fun of you for not following the world? Paul had an incredibly high threshold. He’s encouraging Timothy to have a high threshold. And I’m doing the same for you: and that brings us to the applications for this morning…
Application: So what do we learn from this section of Paul’s letter? To check our:
- Our motives in teaching (in ministry): Love? Do you love your students? Do you love God’s Word? Is your heart pure, your conscience clear and your faith totally sincere.
- Our doctrine in teaching: on course with God’s Word?
- Books; be careful;
- Study Bibles: notes are not inerrant
- Our practice in selecting teachers. We should be concerned with each teacher. Not just filling vacancies, but finding good, competent, teachers.
- Our goal: lead people to Christ, disciple them and send them out.