Title: The Charge Reiterated
Text: 1 Timothy 1.18-20
CIT: Paul reiterates his reason for Timothy’s presence in Ephesus to charge certain men not to teach unsound doctrine which means, they should not teach any doctrine that does not align with the Apostolic Faith.
CIS: That same Apostolic Faith has been handed down to you. This generation of believers is entrusted with this precious gift and the responsibility to pass it on to others and protect its purity and from corruption.
Intro: David Allen, a Guest columnist for the Southern Baptist Texan, tells the story of an ultra-marathon that took place in 1983, in the land down under, in Australia. 150 world-class runners converged on Sydney for this 543.7-mile race to Melbourne. At the time, it was the world’s longest and toughest ultra-marathon. On the day of the race, a toothless 61-year-old potato farmer and sheepherder named Cliff Young approached the registration table wearing overalls and galoshes over his work boots. At first, the people there thought he was a simple bystander–someone who was interested in what was going on. They were shocked when Cliff meandered over to the registration table and wanted to sign up for the race.
What these people didn’t know was that Cliff had grown-up on the farm without the benefit of such luxuries has horses and tractors and 4-wheel drive vehicles. For his entire life, Cliff had run around the hillside rounding up sheep or cattle on their 2000-acre farm. There were times when Cliff would spend 2 to 3 days running around the hillside, rounding up his animals.
The staff, of course, wasn’t so sure that he was serious about entering this race. He wasn’t dressed like the others. He was decades older than the others. However, after much convincing that he was serious, the race staff issued him a bib with the #64 on it. When the gun went off all of the runners took off in a sprint. All, that is, except for Cliff. Can you imagine the scene: athletes with sculptured bodies, Taped up, Vaseline in all the right places, water bottles and food snacks tucked away in their backpacks; running shorts and shirts with athletic company logos on them, Nike running shoes, a shot is fired and all of these professional athletes take off like they’re in race. But, slowly at the back of the pack, Cliff begins to shuffle along. Remember, he’s wearing his raincoat and galoshes over his boots. There were those who thought it was wrong to let Cliff in the race. Someone should stop that crazy old man before he hurts himself.
But, five days, 15 hours and four minutes later, Cliff Young came shuffling across the finish line in Melbourne, winning the ultra-marathon! The nearest runner was some nine hours and 56 minutes behind him. Australians were riveted to the TV as they watched reports of the race unfold. How could someone like Cliff beat all of those well-trained athletes? Everyone knew that the race would take 6 1/2 days, with the runners running some 18 hours each day and sleeping 6 hours at night. But Cliff didn’t know that. Everyone was asleep when he ran by the camping area. He just ran day and night and night and day until he finished. He beat the previous record by 9 hours.
Transition: It sounds kind of like the tortoise and the rabbit. While the others slept, he would pass them up. I’m sure they thought that he was so old, that he couldn’t compete and wouldn’t even complete the race. I’m sure they all thought that he was so slow that they just couldn’t lose. But, but to everyone’s amazement, old, slow and steady won the race.
Paul uses words like these to describe the Christian life. Clay read those verses for us earlier this morning: Runner, Athlete, Fighter. We see that last word in our text today: rd 1 Tim 1.18-20;
This ends the opening section of Paul’s letter to Timothy. You’ll note in the very next verse Paul begins to outline for Timothy the way this looks in the church: Prayer, Roles and Responsibilities, Leadership (the two offices of the church); In Chapter 4 Paul comes back to the issue of doctrine and purity for those who are in leadership. In Chapter 5, Paul outlines care for church membership and the way we act toward each other. Paul closes out his letter in Chapter 6, returning to this topic of Timothy’s responsibility as pastor there at Ephesus. Today we close out this introduction with a return to the charge:
The Charge Reiterated was two-fold:
- Confront false teaching: (18-19a)
- Confront false teachers: (19b-20)
Let’s take these one at a time:
- Confront false teaching: (18-19a); well, how? Paul gives Timothy some great, even inspiring instruction. Note first:
- Fight Well: rd v 18; the term is soldier (a noun) and the 2nd term is what the soldier does (verb). A plumber plumbs. A Policeman, polices. A soldier… fights. We don’t usually think of church work in terms of fighting. But in a very real sense, it is. But here’s our problem: We often forget who we’re fighting against! Our fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual realm. That’s probably Satan’s greatest advantage over us. We see this and we think “Yeah” and we fight each other. Wrong! This is a spiritual battle and it requires us to be strategic or methodical in our warfare. 2nd, he says,
- Use your gifts: rd 18a; what does he mean here – in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you? The key is the wording that follows, that by them you may wage the good warfare… Lit.: in order that you might soldier in them the good battle. Or, … in order that you might soldier in them the good campaign or war. But, when you put the whole phrase together, don’t forget the ‘by them’ or ‘in them’ prepositional phrase. He writes: 18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that you may fight in them (i.e.: your spiritual gifts, the prophecies) the good fight.
- 2 Tim 1.6 Paul mentions that these gifts came to Timothy when Paul and other men laid their hands on Timothy and prayed over him.
- There is another way, too. These gifts are affirmed by the people who love Timothy. Paul mentions Lois and Eunice. He mentions in Acts 16, the citizens of Iconium and Lystra, as speaking well of Timothy. They had observed his life and affirmed his gifts. Fight Well, and use your gifts. And 3rd,
- Live out what you believe: Paul mentions this 3rd way we see Timothy is to confront this false teaching, by living out his faith. Rd v 19a; holding faith and a good conscience.
- Holding faith is lit.: having faith, meaning it is something you possess. What is implied here is that this faith is The Faith. The Apostolic Faith, as has been passed down from Paul to Timothy. You don’t see the definite article here, but it is used earlier – and according to the rules of grammar in the Gk language, the article is to be applied again, here, even though it isn’t written. If I recall, it is called anarthrous. But I could be wrong on that. Here’s the point. He’s talking about the apostolic faith.
Ill. Now, this is deep. I mean really deep. Consider that Paul was entrusted with this Faith. He passed it on to Timothy. Timothy will be encouraged to pass it on to other faithful men. That was God’s plan all along. That’s it. This faith, if it is to live on, has to be passed on to others. AND, added to this, it must be preserved in its purity. That’s your job – and that’s my job. Two P’s: Pass it on AND Keep it Pure.
This isn’t some recipe passed down from generation to generation that you might change up a bit for taste. This must be kept pure and undefiled. Those are the rules.
Holding faith and next,
- a clear (good) conscience – do you know how to have a clear conscience? It’s how you live. It is when you know what to do and you do it. Simply put: it is living out your faith in the day-to-day context of relationships. (19a) husbands to wives, wives to husbands; children to parents and parents to children; friend to friend and neighbor to neighbor; boss to employee and employee to boss; worker to customer and customer to worker; and on and on it goes.
App.: Timothy, confront false teaching head-on. Fight the good fight, use your gifts well as you live out what you believe.
Transition: Paul does something absolutely mind-boggling for us at this point. He names names! Are you kidding me! rd v 19b-20, He’s naming names and pointing fingers!
- Confront false teachers: (19b-20)
- Who have rejected this (the faith and a clear conscience) (19b); instead, they’ve swerved (v6) off course and are teaching the opposite of v9-16.
- Who are specifically named: Hymenaeus and Alexander; Do we have to do this? I think yes, we do. We must call false teachers out. And this can be so hard. Why? Because some of you like those false teachers. Men and Women. Here’s the problem: we all like to hear inspirational, feel-good teaching. I do. But, what if it is false? Those teachers need to be called out – by name. Let me say that my goal isn’t to begin naming false teachers by name this morning. That would take too long! But, the context is about confronting false teachers in the church. And that isn’t just my calling – but it is yours, too. (20)
- Who have been excommunicated (20); handed over to Satan. Someone asked me what this means. I said, “I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound good.” I think this means those men were put out of the church. Some people don’t like that. They feel like it is judging. Well, it is. We’re commanded to judge people in the church. It is non-believers, people outside of the church we’re not supposed to judge. That’s probably what hurts us so bad in the eyes of the world. We’re judgmental of lost people and don’t say anything about the evil that lurks within!
Ill.: I’m grateful for the men in my life who loved me enough to help me as a young preacher and teacher; to correct my faults with love and care.
The Charge: Timothy, confront false teaching head-on. Fight the good fight, use your gifts well as you live out what you believe. When you hear it and see it, call it out – name names! Call ‘em out and put ‘em out of the church.
- You’ve been entrusted
- You’ve been equipped
- w/ the prophecies (Scripture)
- w/ the faith (i.e., the Apostolic Faith)
- w/ responsibility to live out that faith before others
- w/ responsibility to speak it.
- You have some negative examples
Conclusion: Story of Cliff Young? He won the race because he simply did what he had always been doing. He’s gone now. He passed away 20 years later, in 2003 at the age of 81. He won $10,000 for coming in first place. He divided up the money and gave the first 5 runners, who came in after him, $2,000 each. He didn’t do it for the money. When asked why he ran, he simply replied. I always wanted to run in a race and this one fit my calendar. The race organizers asked him to run again. But he said, “No. I don’t think so.” When asked of his secret, he said: “don’t stop.”
What about you? Do you find your walk with Christ a struggle, because it isn’t something you live and breathe every day? Don’t wait for the gun to go off to get started preparing. Let the Christian life be your normal MO. And then, when called to ‘fight the good fight’ or to ‘run the race’ it’ll be something you already do normally…