Category Archives: Christian Living

1 Timothy 1.18-20

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:

  1. Confront false teaching: (18-19a)
  2. Confront false teachers: (19b-20)

Let’s take these one at a time:

  1. Confront false teaching: (18-19a); well, how? Paul gives Timothy some great, even inspiring instruction. Note first:
    1. 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,
    2. 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.
      1. 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.
      2. 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,
    3. 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.
      1. 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 Cliff Youngagain, 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,

  1. 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!

 

  1. Confront false teachers: (19b-20)
    1. 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.
    2. 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)
    3. 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.

 

Application:

  1. You’ve been entrusted
  2. You’ve been equipped
    1. w/ the prophecies (Scripture)
    2. w/ the faith (i.e., the Apostolic Faith)
    3. w/ responsibility to live out that faith before others
    4. w/ responsibility to speak it.
  3. 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…

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Filed under 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Christian Living, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 1.12-17

Title: Jesus Came to Save Sinners

Text: 1 Timothy 1.12-17

 

Introduction: One of the things I miss about having church on Sunday night is that it is so relaxed. The music, the conversation… really everything. I miss people sharing Scripture and the specials from children and others who might not normally sing on a Sunday morning. But what I miss most is the testimony time. Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, testimonies were more about the person rough life than about the grace and mercy of Christ. But that is more the exception than the rule. I tell you, I worship when I hear a powerful testimony to the grace and mercy of God. I really do. Something in my spirit is moved.

As we’ve made our way through 1 Timothy we’ve seen Paul charge Timothy with the task of confronting teachers who present unsound, unhealthy doctrine. But now Paul takes a break to insert this… almost parenthetical statement about the joy and privilege of serving Christ and this statement culminates in a glorious doxology.

Transition: But get this, that even in Paul’s Testimony, the story isn’t about him. It is about Christ. This is what Paul wants you to see – He wants you to see Christ. First, he wants you to see:

I.     The Mercy of Christ (12-13):

exp.: rd v 12; Paul expresses his Gratitude toward Christ for his incredible mercy in appointing Paul into Christian Service: Look at how Paul points to Christ…The Mercy of Christ is evident in the following actions:

  • Christ has strengthened him (lit.; empowered me): rd v 12; Timothy, you’ve been called to this work and this is my experience in the work: Christ has empowered me to do this ministry which he has called me to do.

app.: I know I usually give my applications at the end, but can I just stop right here and say, wow! What an incredible application for us. Christ will give you what you need to accomplish the mission he tasks you with! Provision is such an important lesson to learn.

ill.: Phil 4.10-13; context – the context is God’s provision for Paul; that also means strength to enure when it seems you have nothing;

  • Christ has judged him faithful (lit.: considered or thought me faithful; NASB)
  • Christ has appointed him to this ministry; this echoes v 1; an apostle; commissioned; And this is where we see the mercy of Christ; appointed to this ministry, this service (διακονίαν) in spite of the fact that…
    • All of this in spite of the fact that he, himself felt that he was so undeserving of Christ’s mercy. Rd v 13; He says: I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent
    • The Reason: He had acted ignorantly and in unbelief

ill.: we saw that in the passage John read for us earlier; there at the stoning of Stephen, giving approval Acts 7.54-8.3;

app.: Mercy is such a beautiful word – mercy displayed through equipping Paul and empowering him to do this blessed ministry.

t.s.: So first, Paul wants us to see the Mercy of Christ in his life – in spite of who Paul was and how he had acted as a non-believer. Secondly, Paul wants us to see

II.    The Grace of Christ (14-16):

exp.: Paul’s displays his Attitude toward the Gospel because of the grace of Christ toward him: (Christ’s Amazing Grace toward Paul);

exp.: rd v 14a; overflowed like, in superabundance; According to Gordan Knight, this grace, which overflows in superabundance, not only forgives and strengthens, but it moves one into a sphere of faith and love – and better, it keeps one in that sphere. But listen, to Calvin on this…

faith and love may be referring to God… I opt for a more straightforward exposition. Faith and love bear witness to God’s grace that has just been referred to, so nobody will conclude that Paul is boasting for no good reason. Faith is contrasted with Paul’s unbelief (v13); Love in Christ is contrasted with the cruel persecution Paul had handed out to believers. It is as if he was now saying that God had transformed him and he was now a new person.

That’s pretty deep if you ponder on it for a bit. Christ, in all of his mercy and grace, gives the believer the faith and love he or she now needs to live this Christian life. I think this matches what Paul teaches to the Romans in Romans 5.

And to add strength to this, Paul now seems to quote a popular saying: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Ill.: Philip Ryken tells of how modern-day worship leaders have taken to changing words in hymns to make them more palatable. One example he gives is: Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved and strengthens me. Which, sounds harmless at first. But, the point Ryken makes is that people don’t want to be considered wretches. They’re basically saying God’s amazing grace reaches to them, but that they’re pretty good people – not wretches. And then Ryken goes on to quote Brian Ragan: Grace is amazing because it saves wretches, not because it puts a final polish on nice people.

What we need to do is see ourselves as Paul sees himself. He, himself, was an example of Christ’s incredible patience toward the hardest sinner. I think the way you and I do that is to see ourselves in light of Christ. I think you do that when you see who Christ is in all of his holiness and purity and glory. And, we then see ourselves in comparison to him – then, we’ll understand the term wretched.

Ill.: it is kind of like having a standard for jumping. We might think we’re pretty good jumpers for someone our age, but the truth is there is someone who jumps higher and farther than we do. Jason, or Blake. If we were that way we’d be happy to jump high and we’d compare ourselves to others that we’re better than and strive to be like those who are better than us.

Back in Harlingen, we had a gym. I’m sure they still do. I was minister of youth and recreation, so I hosted a basketball game at lunch. We had a group of guys who would take lunch and come to play basketball. It was so much fun. There was always a lot of trash talking and fouling, traveling – basic rule-breaking. But, nobody ever believed he was actually at fault. Including myself! So I set up a camera to record our game. I placed it up on the 2nd floor and videoed our lunch hour game. Afterward, I told everyone what I did and most of the guys wanted to stay and watch. I knew I recorded it and was still embarrassed at what I saw. That was at least 25 years ago and I couldn’t believe how pitiful I looked. I’m so used to seeing the pros move and jump and run.

But here’s the thing: the standard in jumping is to jump as high as Lebron James! The stand is to jump up and touch the moon! And no one can do that – we all fall short of the standard – if that were the case.

The reality is that the standard is Holiness – and all of us fall short of the glory of God in that category, too! Only one person met the standard: Christ! But look at how incredible this grace and mercy is toward him in v16; rd v 16; Wow! That’s’ a beautiful picture of the Messiah.

Transition: Once we see ourselves that way and we realize just what He has done for us – his incredible patience toward us, we can’t help but break out in Worship… and that is exactly what Paul does in v 17.

III.   Doxology: The Magnitude of Paul’s Praise to Christ for His great mercy and grace.

exp.: we see that in v 17; rd v 17; this is a sermon in itself. We could set aside this verse, break it down phrase by phrase, word by word and create a sermon series on the glory and majesty of the Father. That actually sounds fun! 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

So, what did we learn today? What will you take with you when we go our separate ways?

Take-a-ways:

  1. I want you to think about the attributes of Christ as Paul presents Christ in his testimony: strengthens, empowers, provides, patient, loving, faithful, He doesn’t give us what we deserve and He gives us what we don’t deserve. You’ve probably heard this little ring before:
    1. Mercy: not getting what we deserve; Paul describes his experience of calling to this incredible service as ‘mercy’. He deserved was what he had dished out to others. He counted it as a blessing to suffer for Christ.
    2. Grace: getting what we don’t deserve; Paul describes his experience of salvation as ‘grace’ toward him. He did not deserve salvation or the privilege of serving the Master. But really, who does? Who is?
  2. I’m glad Samaritan’s Purse was here today with us. I’m grateful for their ministry and the opportunity we have to participate. But I want to caution you: don’t think that the sum of your Christian service is sending shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts to children. Because serving can feel good. Helping out at helping hand can stroke your ego. Those are good things, but that isn’t what saves you. It should be what you do because of who you are.
    1. The Trustees and I are planning to meet soon to talk strategy for the upcoming year. We want to encourage missions and evangelism. That is all part of the plan. But don’t rely on that to make you feel good about yourself and your Christianity.
    2. It isn’t that you don’t do them then, but that you do those ministries with the right intentions.
    3. Isn’t it odd or peculiar that Paul considers it ‘mercy’ that Christ would allow Paul to suffer as he had caused others to suffer? It brings up a great question about what does it mean to suffer and do we see that as God’s mercy in our lives?
    4. I think we often see mercy as God doing something wonderful in our lives – but what about suffering for him in accomplishing the ministry he’s called us to…
    5. What does it mean that the disciples… left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Or, when Paul says… Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
    6. How crazy, right? To see God’s mercy in suffering for Him and His glory! It’s Gut-check time.
  3. I think of Paul’s statement about the perfect patience of Christ. Peter says the same thing – it isn’t that the Lord is slack in returning, it’s that he is displaying his perfect patience toward us. If you sit here today and you’ve never committed your life to Christ, that should move you, that he has delayed his return to give you more time.

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Authenticity, Christian Living, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

1 Timothy 1.3-7

Title: Timothy’s Appointment to the Church at Ephesus

Text: 1 Timothy 1.3-7

Introduction: 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 you think Linda Duke would drive 100 miles per hour to impress her grandchildren? Or Virginia Huntress doing the same thing to impress great-grandchildren’s friends? Their threshold for such activities is pretty high. Probably, untouchable.

Transition: Here’s where I’m going with this: 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 ???.

I’ve identified three parts to the overall passage of 1.1-11: A Bird’s Eye View of our Journey through 1 Timothy

  1. The Purpose of the Leader: His Charge (Week 1) v1-3
  2. The Purpose of the Letter: His Concern (Week 2) v3-7
  3. 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:

  1. The Assignment at the Church (v3-4) Charge certain persons not to teach
  2. The Aim in this Charge (v5) The aim of this charge is love issued from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
  3. The Assessment of the Church (v6-7) Certain persons have swerved from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith).

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 has 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…
        1. Speculative knowledge is a type of theoretical knowledge. It is a knowledge that is gained through reflection without experience.
        2. 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”  or “telephone” 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 1 John 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;

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 missed the mark (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 ‘missing the mark’ 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; Question: what exactly were they doing wrong? 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? As a pastor, I question my threshold for your pleasure. Will I bow to pressure to do what other churches are doing? You want something from me – the way I preach, the way I lead music. Will I give in to music that is less than glorifying to God to please your ears?

As an individual, what is your threshold? Do you want to grow and gain members so much that you’ll water down what is right and true in order that the lost might be comfortable? And we might see more folks join the church?

Points to ponder:

  1. What is (y)our assignment here?
  2. Do we do what we do because we truly love people? Does our stewardship flow from a heart of love?
  3. What is our threshold for seeing that our church is a New Testament church and not just something that adjusts itself to the culture to accommodate and make lost people feel comfortable?
    1. Really, why do we meet here? What is the goal? What are we trying to accomplish?
    2. If this isn’t organized around the lost, when do they or how will they get saved?
    3. What does it mean for us to Pray the Word, Sing the Word, Read the Word, See the Word, and Preach the Word?

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1 Timothy: An Introduction

Title: 1 Timothy: An Introduction

Text: 1 Timothy 1.1-3

Introduction: Erin Brockovich is now famous for her legal work against a giant company. She herself was not a lawyer, but rather a legal clerk who worked for a small law firm. Her story inspires most because she represents many of us – at least that is the way we see it.

She didn’t look the part. She wasn’t educated. She had made many mistakes when she was young. She was judged on her appearance and not on her work. The snobs with the money judged her incompetent because she didn’t dress like they did. She didn’t have the law degree they had. It was a modern-day David and Goliath story. Pacific Gas and Electric Company had been poisoning the land around Hinkley, California. Their reckless behavior made the people of Hinkley and the surrounding area sick – many even died.

Her story inspires because she stood up to the mammoth of a company that had money and lawyers to fight. But she never backed down. She spent countless hours learning the ins and outs of that company. She met and got to know the people of Hinkley. She knew the sick by name. She knew their spouses and what their spouse did for a living; she knew who their kids were and what grades they were in. She knew where they lived. She knew where they shopped; who their doctors were; the most intimate details about their lives. She knew the company was dumping hexavalent chromium and contaminating the water sources the people of Hinkley were drinking.

Her story inspires because she spoke out and defended the ones who could not stand up for themselves and won.

For me, the Pastoral Epistles inspire like that. Paul writes to these young men who are serving as pastors in their local churches and encourages them to speak out against those who are killing the people around them. He writes to Titus in Crete and to Timothy in Ephesus. Our focus this morning is on the church at Ephesus and this letter to Timothy. The Letter is entitled 1 Timothy. If you’re using a pew Bible, you’ll find the letter on page ???

Paul states his purpose quite clearly in 3.14-15; rd 3.14f; you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. What we’ll find as we work our way through this letter is that Sound Doctrine is vital to a church’s existence. Unhealthy doctrine destroys a church. Sound Doctrine teaches a church 1) how to behave, 2) it represents God, and 3) is a pillar and buttress of the Truth!

Over the next 4 months, our church will be looking at 1st Timothy. Our basic goal this morning is to look at the introduction of this letter. We find the introduction in 1 Timothy 1.1-3 or on page ??? if you’re using a pew Bible.

Basic Outline: First, we will look at the writer (who the letter is from), then the recipient (who the letter is to), and his purpose, which he alludes to in v 3;

  • From: Paul
  • To: Timothy (and the church at Ephesus)
  • Purpose: you may charge…

Transition: that outline looks short, but the truth is, there is so much here, so let’s get to it.

From: Paul

exp.: rd v 1; Paul wrote this letter somewhere around the years 62-66 AD. Consider the following

  • Paul was martyred by Nero in Rome. That is the historical tradition and has strong backing.
  • Nero died in 68 AD, so, we’ll start with that date.
  • Paul was near his death when he wrote 2 Timothy, his last book or letter that we have. If Nero put Paul to death, then Paul died before Nero. Make sense?
  • So, let’s put Paul’s death around 67 AD – that means 2 Timothy was written near that time.
  • There are at least two winters recorded in the Pastoral Epistles (Titus 3.12 and 2 Timothy 4.21).

Titus 3.12: When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

2 Tim 4.21: 21 Do your best to come before winter. Another winter is fast approaching. Each reference is a different context. So: at least two different winters. They could be one year apart or more; winter of ’67; the winter of ‘65. So, that would put 1 Timothy somewhere around 62-64 AD. These are rough guesses, of course – give or take a few years on each side the largest span would be 62-66. You probably have a good guess at the introduction in your Study Bible at 1 Timothy.

Next, Paul is imprisoned in 2 Timothy, but in 1 Timothy, he appears to be writing after his imprisonment as mentioned in Acts 28. I tried to locate times and places mentioned in 1 Timothy with Acts and I can’t reconcile them. Allow me to show you what I mean:

1 & 2 Timothy place Timothy in Ephesus. I jokingly say that he is the pastor of the 1st Baptist Church in Ephesus. 1 Timothy has Paul going to Macedonia (1.3). In the book of Acts, Paul does travel to Macedonia from Ephesus (Acts 20.1), but Timothy has not been left behind in Ephesus. Instead, he is sent ahead to Macedonia (Acts 19.22). Added to this, Timothy accompanies Paul on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20.4). It is possible that Paul left Timothy in Miletus when he was meeting with the Ephesian elders; however, Paul’s journey was toward Jerusalem the opposite direction of Macedonia.

So, I can only conclude that Paul was released from prison after Acts 28. He ministered and wrote his letters (1 Timothy and Titus) between the dates of 62-66 AD. Then, at some point after those letters, he is thrown into prison again. According to 2 Timothy, he must have gone eastward after his Roman Imprisonment and not on to Spain, because he left his cloak and books at Troas. From his prison cell, during this 2nd Roman Imprisonment, he wrote his last letter, 2 Timothy. Paul has a sense (concerning himself) that the end is near there in 2 Timothy.

app.: He must be feeling that a bit as he writes his 1st letter to Timothy. Verse 1 tells us about his calling: apostle. That means he is a missionary, a church planter. His authority is from God, who has called him and commissioned him. But, as the years have gone by, he finds himself unable to keep up with his previous pace of planting churches and discipling new believers. Jail time has put a toll on his body. Long hours, long travel, persecution, stress, these all have aged him.

So, he has strategically placed younger men in places of service. 1.3: Timothy at Ephesus; Titus at Crete (1.5); He sends their replacements. 2 Tim 4.12: Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Before that, in Titus, Paul sent Tychicus to Crete – evidently to carry that particular letter. Paul mentions that Zenas, the Lawyer, and Apollos have been there with Titus and that Titus should send them on their way to Paul. Crescens is in Galatia; Titus served in Dalmatia, as well as in Crete. Mark is serving somewhere along the way between Ephesus and Rome. It would be a hard, but fun study to locate all of the names of these young men and see where Paul had located them for service – with both locations and dates.

Now, added to their placement as overseers in their respective churches, Paul has given them instructions about how a church should look and act. Now, this is so important! Don’t miss that! That is what these letters, 1 Timothy and Titus, are all about; more on that in a moment.

t.s.: For now, let’s turn our attention to Timothy

To: Timothy

exp.: rd v 2; he uses the same language with Titus; my true child in the faith. The Gk word here means legitimate. I think this conveys the idea that Paul had a hand in their conversion to Christ and their foundation in discipleship. My guess is that Timothy was converted to Christ on Paul’s 1st MJ. We first meet Timothy in the book of Acts (16.1). Paul and Barnabas had finished their 1st MJ and had returned to Antioch to report their mission work. After some days and some disagreement about how they should handle things, Paul and Silas take off on Paul’s 2nd MJ. Their first stop is in Galatia, at Derbe and on to a small town called Lystra. This is where they meet a young Timothy, who has impressed the people of Lystra and Iconium – and Paul, too. Paul immediately recognizes his potential and wants Timothy to accompany them on their journey. And so begins a mentoring relationship between the two men that will last for the next 15 years or more. So great is this relationship, greater even than any other relationship Paul will have with many men, that Timothy appears in all but three of Paul’s letters. Galatians, Ephesians, and Titus. An interesting side note about that: Timothy was from Galatia and he was the pastor at Ephesus.

The rest of v 2 is a typical salutation – if there is such a thing. Paul has worked at refining his introduction through the years to reflect a high Christology. And, built upon that Christology is the authority given to Paul. It is typical in nature to other letters, but of course, reflects the change and growth in his faith. Listen to Gordon Knight:

This form of salutation reflects three factors: first, the teachings of the Christian faith have molded Paul’s adaptation of the standard form. Second, there is a great uniformity in this molding, especially in the grading section, which reflects a certain crystallization of his manner of expression of the essential Christian truths in these salutations. Third, there are certain variations that either reflect the recipients’ situation and need or anticipate and emphasize that which will be presented in the letter proper.

In all of his letters except the letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul refers to the recipients’ relationship to Christ (i.e.: to all the saints in Christ Jesus, as here – my true child in the faith, etc).

ill.: but here is where we can’t see the bond and what has forged it. As you read through acts you see Timothy right there with Silas and others, learning how to stand for Christ, learning that persecution will come. He is watching Paul as he suffers: in Philippi, in Thessalonica, in Berea as he watched Paul sail away alone – alone for his own safety; he is there in Corinth when the city erupted and wanted Paul’s head. Timothy was at Ephesus the first time Paul spoke there. He probably heard Paul’s promise to return if the Lord willed it. And the Lord did and Paul returned and stayed for two years. He watched as the people jumped up and down, screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” He watched as Paul begged to address the thousands of people who wanted him dead. Paul saw a crowd where he could preach Christ. I’m sure Timothy was one of the men who begged him not to do that. The crowd yelled for two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

We have a bunch of material from Acts where Timothy watched and learned from Paul. But what about the “so much more” that we don’t have. What was it like in those prison cells as they had time for some one-on-one discipleship? What was it like for Timothy to listen to this brilliant man who knew the Scriptures and how to apply them? What was it like to watch as the man went from reading the Scriptures to quoting them because his eyes were failing him? What was it like to hear the story of Paul’s conversion and calling – to hear him tell it – the story we read about in Acts Chapter 9 without the inflection, without the emotion of Paul’s voice?

app.: As a pastor, I’m in awe of this relationship. Paul loves the people of Ephesus. He detests false teachers coming and leading people astray. He trusts Timothy to serve those folks – to teach sound doctrine and protect them from the foolishness that others try to bring into a church.

t.s.: which brings us to this last section… it deals with what I touched on at the end of the 1st section… the purpose of these letters.

Part II:

Introduction: Love Does, Bob Goff; rd pg 94-95; eating Lard instead of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

That’s the problem with religion: people package it in attractive ways, but always leave a person wanting. The problem with it all is that what most people are selling isn’t what Christ is offering.

Review of Part 1: From; To; Dates;

Purpose: charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine

exp.: rd v 3; Paul gets straight to the point. This is why I left you there in Ephesus. This is why I’m writing to you! Paul deals with false teaching repeated through his ministry. We see it in just about every letter of Paul’s.

  1. We see it in Acts 20, as Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian Elders at Miletus. Rd Acts 20.17; 25-32;
  2. We’ll see it in this letter, so you’re going to see it again and again (1.3-11; 13-20; 4.1-7; 6.3-10; 20-21).
  • Myths (1.4; 4.7)
  • Genealogies (1.4)
  • Concern with the Jewish Law and its application (1.7)
  • Empty sounds and contradictions referred to as ‘knowledge’ (6.20)
  • Deception (4.1-3)
  • Immorality (1.19-20)
  • Financial Gain (6.5)
  • Harsh Asceticism (4.1-5) through denying the self what God has blessed us with; rd; 4.1-5

ill.: false teaching is alive and well in the church today. Consider the following for us:

  • For the first 1500 years of the Church’s existence – teaching came only through hearing the Word. Very few people could read it and very few people had access to it. Consider it was in Latin! The Word of God was spread only through copies and oftentimes, those copies were chained to the altar at the church. Regular people did not have their own copies. The only time they got God’s Word was through the preaching.
  • Along comes Johannes Guttenberg and his printing press in 1450, making it possible to have a copy of God’s Word. And that is what he wanted. “It is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams… Through it, God will spread His Word. A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men”
  • Here is the irony in it all. Even after the Printing Press comes along, the church doesn’t want common people to have the Word of God in common hands. They saw that as a danger. They outlawed Scripture that was translated into common languages. Latin was the ‘Authorized’ version for those folks. I think of the modern-day movement of KJV Only folks.
  • So, for the next few hundred years, the word of God could then be spread by reading it and the public preaching and teaching of it. As the Word of God became more and more prevalent, it was outlawed in certain countries. The Church didn’t want it in the hands of normal people because they might teach falsely. I think it was more about control.
  • The Advent of Radio and Recording makes it much easier to access the preaching part. But today, with the internet and TV, with its 557 channels and nothing on, you can hear multiple preachers in any given hour. You can stream your favorite preacher or teacher into your home any hour of any day. False teaching can be pumped into your homes and into your head anytime you want to listen to anyone who tickles your ears.

app.: For me, it is a scary time.

  • Consider Mayor Pete Buttigieg: the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, IN. He’s the next big thing for liberals because he is gay and he is married to a man. And, he is a very nice young man. He’s intelligent and articulate. He went to Notre Dame, Harvard and Oxford. Ok, so far not too very different from most liberals. But, here’s the thing: he spouts his faith and declares his Christianity unashamedly. And this is where I think Sound Doctrine is of great importance to us. Just look at our text, down in v 8-11. Now, there are some, probably more on the internet than here in this room, who would say it is wrong from me to ‘judge’ him and his faith. I think to some degree that would be true. But this is where we need to be very careful. Scripture is clear on this issue. He may be sincere, but he is sincerely wrong according to Scripture. What is scary for me is that there is a group of young, progressive Christians who are pushing and supporting his rise through the Democratic party.
  • This past year, an article came out in the New York Times questioning the foundational doctrines of our faith (I read about it in Dr. Albert Mohler’s daily briefings): the Trinity, The Virgin birth, The Resurrection of Christ. I’m guessing it was Easter and all – and that’s the perfect time to attack Christians. Nicholas Kristoph interviewed a Seminary president: Dr. Serene Jones. She is the president of Union Theological Seminary. And the article basically boils down to throwing out the main tenets of our faith. Serene Jones doesn’t believe in a resurrection. She says the empty tomb illustrates that “the ultimate love in our lives cannot be crucified and killed.” She says there isn’t a resurrection in Mark – only an empty tomb. Kristoph challenges her, not really, but just so she can expand on her thoughts: But without a resurrection, aren’t we left with just the crucifixion? She answers: “Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me,” she said, “the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope? Well, according to Paul – No! If all we have is the crucifixion, if Christ is not raised, then we are to be pitied above all men. If Christ is not raised, then we are hopeless and our faith is futile.
  • Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker who masquerades around as a preacher. I’ve chosen not to slam other preachers, but I don’t think Osteen lands in this category: a preacher. Joel Osteen’s teaching revolves around the self. There is no guilt and shame – those things don’t belong at his church. He will not talk about sin – that is so degrading. What he focuses on is making you feel better about yourself when you walk out those doors.
  • The following is from CBSNews.com this past Spring:

Rachel Held Evans, a popular, progressive Christian writer who challenged the traditional evangelical views, died Saturday, her husband confirmed in a blog post. She was 37.

Evans was hospitalized in April for what she described in a tweet as a “a flu + UTI combo and a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave me.” Her husband, Daniel Evans, had been updating on her blog about her health, writing that she had been placed in a medically-induced coma.

On Saturday, he wrote that she had been weaned from coma medication, but seizures had continued and severe swelling of her brain had been found, which he wrote caused severe damage that “ultimately was not survivable.”

“This entire experience is surreal,” Daniel Evans wrote. “I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story.”

Evans was the author of several books, including “Faith Unraveled,” “The Year of Biblical Womanhood,” “Searching for Sunday” and “Inspired.” She spent more than a decade writing about what she described as “faith, doubt, and life in the Bible Belt” on her blog. 

Her popular writing and views on Christianity often enraged traditional evangelicals. In 2015, The Washington Post called her the “most polarizing woman in evangelicalism.” She was an advocate for LGBT membership in the church, urged fellow pro-life Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton and wrestled with the role of the patriarchy in the church. She served on former President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

She eventually left the evangelical church, writing in 2016 that “church universal is so much bigger than white American evangelicalism, and that’s going to become ever more apparent in the months and years to come.” 

I’m sad that this young woman died.

But the saddest part of her story is that so much of her ‘ministry’ was much like Hymenaeus and Philetus. She rejected the hard parts of the Bible and followed how she felt. Many have been led astray. She had a great point. I too have been sickened at the organized church; the power plays of individuals; the segregation that is most evident on Sunday mornings.

t.s.: So, how do we handle this? Well, a guilty man should feel guilty. Sin is what separates us from a holy God and we have to deal with our sin. Most people just don’t want to change. But God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. Most people want to hold on to their sin and to religion. But what they end up selling you is much like a tub of lard wrapped in a Cream Cheese package.

Conclusion: We must act and respond like Paul, who is being very clear that Sound, Healthy Doctrine is vital. It is what should guide the church. It isn’t enough to just to babble on and place your focus on things outside of Scripture, like how you feel. We must be clear about what is in Scripture. And that is the whole purpose behind 1 Timothy.

Application:

  1. The Charge: someone has to confront those who are teaching something other than sound doctrine. Someone has to cry out that the water has been poisoned. Don’t drink that water, but rather, come to the life-giving water.
  2. The Word of God is our Standard: It has to be the standard. Culture changes; laws change; emotions change; The Word of God is unchanging! For Timothy, he had the letter to the Ephesians, and he had this letter. This letter closes with a plural “you” – that is ‘the church’, so it appears that Paul had the intention for this letter to go to the church, too.
  3. The goal of this charge is love… v. 5; it isn’t to win arguments, but people. I’ll expound on this next week, but how can we say we love someone, but don’t love them enough to tell them the Truth.

As I think about Ms. Rachel Evans, I’m reminded that her passion was for those who were being rejected by the church. Something has got to change! But what must not change, is the Word of God on which we stand. What must change – is us. Love must drive us to understand God’s Word and use it as the standard for our faith.

 

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1 Timothy 6.20-21

Title: Final Comments

Text: 1 Timothy 6:20-21

CIT: Timothy, Do your job, Beware, Be Strong.

CIS: Same thing.

Introduction: On June 7, 1942, the Japanese attacked a United States territory for the 2nd time. The first is emblazoned upon our memories. It occurred 6 months earlier on December 7th, 1941. But this 2nd attack – it isn’t remembered. The reason is that not much really happened.

The island of Attu in the Aleutian Island Chain is the furthest point West belonging to the United States. It extends as far west as New Zealand, only on this side of the equator. The Japanese brought 1,100 troops and could have easily conquered the island with a bullhorn. That number would climb to 3,000 before American troops get there. On the morning of that attack, there were less than 40 civilians there and they were all in worship because it was a Sunday morning.

The Japanese charge along the mountainside toward the lone little village on Attu. They slipped and fell in the spongy earth and soft, wet snow. Guns were mistakenly discharged as men fell. In fear and in a state of panic, other soldiers began shooting toward the village and out into the open area because they thought they were being shot at by the Islanders. In the process, some Japanese were wounded and one was even killed by friendly fire.

The islanders heard noises and simply looked out the window to see the Japanese moving toward them. Nick Golodolf, who was six years old at the time and happened to be standing outside, actually began to laugh at what he thought was slap-stick comedy going on before him – that is until he figured out the mud jumping up around him was being caused by bullets being fired at him. That’s when he ran for cover.

The Japanese had attacked the US for a 2nd time.

The Unites States responded…eventually. It would be some 10 months later, April 24, 1943, when the Americans would send forces. The powers that be had outlined a strategy for regaining control of Attu. 15,000 troops were sent to attack the Japanese and it was figured that the battle would last less than three days. However, the troops were woefully unprepared. They lacked enough food, the proper gear and had no idea what the island of Attu was like. They weren’t ready for the cold. Their boots slipped in the mud. Have you ever tried to dig a foxhole in the tundra of Alaska? I remember in Wyoming when the city worked on pipes, they had to dig down 8 ft, because the ground freezes above that line. 8 feet! In the early years, before modern technology, funerals took place in the late Spring and Summer only, because the ground was frozen at other times of the year.

What was expected to last 3 days, lasted 6 weeks and cost hundreds of lives.

Why? Leadership. The General in charge of the 7th Infantry and his Naval Commander counterpart couldn’t stand each other. Both were arrogant and ignorant of just what it would take to conquer their enemy. Rear Admiral Robert Theobald insisted the uniforms of his men be neat and to code. The Japanese opted for heavily insulated attire designed for the Alaskan climate. The results for the Americans were disastrous and costly.

And so it is when leadership is concerned about themselves and not their people. If I recall correctly, the only other battle that cost more lives than the Battle of Attu was the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Leadership must be concerned about the people they serve. That’s what leadership is… and that’s Paul plea to Timothy.

He closes here with a final word – a final word that sums up well the contents of this letter:

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

Herein lies a call to strong leadership on the part of Timothy. And Paul does this with three verbs. The passage is broken down grammatically into three main parts:

One imperative verb: Guard. There is a participle which describes how he is to ‘guard’ … ‘avoiding’;

One past tense verb: those who have swerved from the faith; and a 2nd participle which describes what has happened to those who haven’t avoided irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’.

State of Being vb: And Paul then closes with a common phrase used to say goodbye.

So here is my breakdown of this passage and expressing it in three separate thoughts: Timothy, Guard, Guide, and Goodbye.

Transition: So look with me in v 20 again.

I.    Guard

exp.: rd v 20a: his command – Guard, the thought, ‘keep in custody’. Think of a prison guard keeping watch over the inmates under his charge. He knows where they are at all times. So, Guard. Guard what? “The deposit” – not normally a theological or religious term for us, but the deposit isn’t really foreign to us. We use regularly in banking terms, so we know what it means. This word is used 3 times in the NT. All 3 by Paul and all 3 in his letters to Timothy (1 Tim 6.20; 2 Tim 1.12, 14) and (2ndly) each reference deals with the gospel; LXX; Leviticus 6:1-7; the context of that passage really helps us understand what Paul is saying: The deposit is the property or the possession that has been entrusted to someone. And in our passage this morning, what has been entrusted to Timothy, the deposit is the gospel.

And the question that Paul answers here is ‘how’ Timothy is to guard the gospel. And this is our first participle: avoiding. Rd 20b;

exp.: two characteristics Paul brings out about the actions of these false teachers which are to be avoided:

  • Irreverent Babble; ‘Irreverent’ is the Gk word, which when transliterated is ‘Babylon’; empty-talk or empty-sounds; κενόω (kenoō): Phil 2:7; ‘he emptied’ himself; The nuance of the word is to pour out the contents of a pitcher until it is empty. These babblings are empty and contain no substance – avoid them. 2nd,
  • Contradictions: this Gk word transliterated into English is antithesis and it is in Gk, just as it is in English: the opposite; Contradictions, specifically, of what is falsely called knowledge. Some scholars use this particular passage, and others to say that this letter should be dated in the 2nd century since that is when Gnosticism saw it’s rise OR they say that this is evidence that Gnosticism was around in the 1st I don’t think either one is true.
  • Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”; I think of John 17 where Jesus pays to the Father: Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth. What is false about these teachers is that they’re not teaching God’s Word. They’re expounding on issues and themes that make them look knowledgeable, but it is all false.

app.: You know exactly what Paul’s talking about because 2,000 years later, there are still preachers who are puffed up with their knowledge, but lack the Truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is the Truth. What these others bring is not the truth…

t.s.: now at this point, Paul offers a caution, a reason to Guard the deposit. Whereas we’ve just observed Paul has commanded Timothy to Guard the deposit and how he is to guard the deposit, now he is going to offer a reason why Timothy is to Guard the deposit: rd v 21; 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

II.   Guide

exp.: because there are those who profess this false knowledge, who chase after debates with no substance, and by so doing, they have swerved from the Truth. People need guidance to get where they’re going. And, the way God has designed this is through discipleship. It is through learning. It comes from learning God’s Truth.

Turn to 1 Tim 1:6 – Certain people have lit.: ‘miss the mark’; the idea is ‘to wander off the path’; they have deviated off course and wandered from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith; cf.: 1.5);

ill.: you guys know I’m teaching this class of young men at BCL; our class is about becoming men; this past week our class was about building a survival kit; I shared with them the story of a lady who was hiking the AP alone. She was at the very end – she was roughly 200 miles to the end of the AP. This photo was taken the day before she disappeared. She left to hike the trail in 2013 but disappeared. Some men who were out surveying the territory for their company found her body. That was in 2016.

Along with her body was her notebook. In it, she recorded her failure, she had left the trail to go to the bathroom, but somehow, when she had completed her task, she got all turned around. She texted her husband for help, but her phone had no signal. She continued wandering around, trying to find the trail and eventually stopped on a ridge, thinking she would see something or be found. Finally, she decided to stay put until searchers could find her. But they never did. She had wandered two miles off the path.

App.: Staying on the path is essential to your survival. Veering off course is certain death. This is what I was teaching the boys this week, but it applies to us, too.

t.s.: Timothy, Watch over and Guard that which you’ve been given charge and responsibility for, Watch out that you don’t chase after things that are fruitless and empty, but instead, Guide others in the Truth. And finally, Timothy, goodbye

III.  Goodbye

exp.: rd v 21b; Grace be with you; Ἡ χάρις μεθʼ ὑμῶν; Grace; this is the typical greeting and goodbye of Paul; Go to each of his letters and you’ll find a very similar ending to those letters (with the one exception being Romans). The word Grace here has the definite article; a definite article adds an idea of something specific, namely, the Grace of Christ and Oftentimes, Paul will say just that, The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all; Now, the traditional ending of a letter can be found in Acts 15:29; Ἔρρωσθε, which means, Be Strong; genuine expression that one may be strong and well; hence, the translation, fare – well; ill.: Be Bold; God Bless; It may very well be that Paul knew that one can only be strong is in the grace of God and so, he changed the way he closed his letters to read the way they do. Grace Be With You. Paul has written to Timothy, but there are times in the epistle when it appears he wants the church to read this letter. This verse affirms what we already knew: The letter is for both Timothy and the church at Ephesus: Grace be with all y’all.

Conclusion: So, we should apply the letter to not just the pastor, but to the church body as a whole. And, how does this apply to us?

  • Well, to me, the application is very personal: I am a pastor. I think for the elders and other teachers, they might feel the same zealousness for the church that meets at 6704 Old Jacksonville Hwy. I take this responsibility very seriously and guard it with my soul. If it appears that I’m scrutinizing what’s being taught or I stand against someone wanting to lead the church astray, then so be it. I do not apologize for it. For I will give account. What about you? Church, what is your feeling for this body – called Calvary?
  • I think you have a responsibility to help keep our church pure, too.
    • Guard the gospel.
    • Live it wisely. Be a guide – like that of a hunter or a fisher. Know your territory – where it is safe. Where the animals are. Where there is freshwater. Where there is shelter. Where this protection.

Ill.: I have a good friend from Wyoming who has been a guide for many people in that area of the state. He knows where the animals are. He guided me on my elk trip when I lived up there.

He once got a call from a friend asking him to guide him and another man on a fishing trip. His friend said, “Now listen, when we show up and get in the boat, don’t get all weird and stuff. This man is famous and he doesn’t like people getting all weirded out!” The famous man, Bob Seger. He’s guided many famous men on hunting and fishing trips. Why? Because this friend of mine can’t get lost in the mountains and he knows how to survive.

We need to be like that when it comes to God’s Word – Guarding it and guiding others through it.

I think there is more here for us:

  • Select your leaders, Don’t quickly put any man into elder or deacon positions. Let them be tested and tried and found faithful.
  • Serve each other in love. Watch out for each other; for each other’s children and grandchildren; let your first thought be love and then act.
  • Treat each other with respect – the respect people deserve as believers in Christ. Mercy and grace have been granted to you – when you came to Christ. Respond to others as Christ has responded to you in your time of need.
  • Communicate Well: Listen, respond in love, listen some more.

We must prevail and persevere. That thought is communicated in the words: some have swerved from the faith. Let us not be among those who fail and fall by the wayside, proving themselves to be lost.

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1 Timothy 6.17-19

Title: A Word for the Rich

Text: 1 Tim 6:17-19

CIT: Paul has some instructions for the rich.

CIS: We’re all rich in the present world. We should use it wisely.

Introduction:

I was reading John Calvin’s commentary on this particular passage of the pastorals and noted his comments about the Catholic Church. 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them (1) not to be haughty, (2) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but (3) on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are (4) to do good, (5) to be rich in good works, (6) to be generous and (7) ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

And this is from Calvin’s commentary: The inference Roman Catholics draw from this passage, that through good deeds we merit eternal life, is exceedingly foolish. Catholics? Think about Calvin’s culture – the political climate. At the time of this writing, it has been but 39 years since Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses to the church at Wittenberg. It made me think. As I read this passage, “am I filtering what I was taking in through my 2019 filter?” The principle is the same: there are those who think they shall be saved by their good works through giving monetarily. And there is leadership in the evangelical church today who buy into that philosophy. Not because they give like that, but because they’re profiting from it.

I’m reminded of Luke’s account of the widow and her two mites. Oftentimes preachers use that passage to encourage sacrificial giving. But, the truth of the passage is that Jesus was condemning the practice of religious leaders who were selfishly taking advantage of widows and other disadvantaged people. Don’t forget, this is the very thing Paul has accused the false teachers of doing. Two weeks ago in my message Four Features of False Teachers, we talked about how these false teachers were in the ministry for financial gain. Last week, in my message of Paul’s encouraging words to Timothy, we saw Paul encourage Timothy not to be like them.

Now, Paul turns his attention to the wealthy who were being targeted by the false teachers. But, like Calvin did in the 1500’s we’ve got to ask ourselves,

  • What does the Scripture say?
  • What does that mean?
  • And what does that mean for us today? Or, what should we do in light of this information?

This is what Calvin did: He identified what the Scripture said and meant and was able to condemn the wicked practices of the Roman Catholic Church in his day. Jesus was setting an example for his men and for us by doing just that.

Grammatically, in the following three verses, we find 7 admonitions through a single imperative in these three verses: rd v 17-19

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them (1) not to be haughty, (2) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but (3) on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are (4) to do good, (5) to be rich in good works, (6) to be generous and (7) ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Transition: I’ve outlined these 7 infinitives in the following manner:

  1. What the rich shouldn’t do
  2. What the rich should do
  3. What the rich should expect

Transition: So, let’s look at what Paul outlines for us first…

1.   What the rich shouldn’t do

exp.:

  • imperative: urge, command, charge; 1 Tim 1:3;
  • instruct (NASB) …not really, didactic flavor;
  • command (NIV) 4:11 (command and teach these things); 5:7 (command); here’s where I’m going with this: some scholars really back off on this, I think the translators do, too. Why? because some people get uncomfortable (upset) when you talk about money. Why would this word mean ‘command’ when Paul’s not talking about money and when it gets to money, why is it changed to charge or instruct or urge? I think we must consider that Paul is telling Timothy, it is an imperative of command, command these people, who, those who are rich in this present age. Command them to what? 7 admonitions here, the 1st two which are negative:
  • these admonitions are expressed through infinitives;

       1. To not be haughty; compound word used only here, ὑψηλός (hypsēlos) – high; and φρονέω (phroneō) – mindset or thinking; but is used as two separate words in Rom 11:20 (12:16); proud; pride, that is what Paul is teaching against here; financial success breeds pride;

ill.: The Notebook: Allie was from a rich family who fell in love with a poor, blue-collar worker. They were both young and she was naïve; Allie brings her boyfriend home to meet the family and a bunch of guests. He is treated as an inferior. They were condescending and rude to him. We saw the same thing in the movie Titanic when Rose’s family is so rude to Jack. No doubt you’ve seen it along the way, in your life. Maybe at school? You see the rich kids act arrogant and haughty just because Mom and Dad come from money.

app.: is every rich person haughty? No, most definitely not! Lisa and I know very wealthy people. I’ve got one friend who drives the same old pickup that doesn’t have any bells and whistles. You have to use a handle to roll the window down! He and his wife live in the same house they raised their kids in. The same small house they built when they didn’t have money. We have other wealthy friends who are kind and generous and humble.

But riches can produce a haughty spirit! It must have been that way in Ephesus; at least on some level, because Paul cautions them to not be haughty; 2nd, …

  1. To not hope in riches; which are uncertain; money, success, these things are fleeting;

ill.: Have you ever found yourself thinking “what if I just had this money, I’d be o.k.”; remember this: if money can fix it, it ain’t a problem! It isn’t that being rich is bad, it’s the idea of putting your hope in being rich. For most of us though, I don’t think in our culture, in our day, in our age, in USA 2019, I don’t think the problem is the lack of money or wealth. For us, it is the abundance of debt.

app.: Don’t be proud and haughty, Don’t place your hope in riches

t.s.: but instead…and this is 2nd area of instruction:

2.     What the rich should do:

exp.: instead…

  1. To set your hope on God; why? He’s already given a good reason,
    1. Because riches are uncertain; but now he gives another…
    2. Because God richly provides everything for us to enjoy (pleasure). This casts light on the garden. God provides everything for us to enjoy. And, he gives us guidelines to enjoy them by. Paul is using his linguistic skills to communicate that God provides. Πάντα – all things;

Transition: now these next four actions are a natural flow from the life of one who realizes his riches are a gift of God. rd 18a;

  1. To do good; this word ‘good’ – ἀγαθοεργεῖν; only here and in Acts 14; a compound word – Agatha – perfect (when in relation to God) good or right (when in relation to people) and ergon – work; which is what Paul says in Ephesians, that we were created to do: And he grows on this statement…rd 18b;
  2. To be rich in good works; another play on the word rich; rd 18c; Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
  3. To be generous, which is another progressive step in this progression that someone experiences when s/he realizes the riches s/he has are a gift of God…no matter where one is financially speaking.
  4. To be ready to share; this word ‘share’ has the same root as the Gk word koinonia. κοινωνικός (koinōnikos); remember I began with Calvin’s comments on the Catholic church and mentioned how he filtered his reading through his culture? Well, listen to what he writes next: It is true that everything given to the poor is acceptable to God, but since the very best of us hardly manage to accomplish one-hundredth of our duty in this connection, our generosity hardly deserves to be taken into account of by God. In fact, he writes, should God call us to account, everyone would be found wanting, as we are so far from giving all we should.

ill.: Gary Waddington, a pastor in Billings, MT, tells the following story: Several years ago, when I was ministering in a small rural community, we had extra food leftover from our Christmas basket. I happened to think of a poor family who lived at the edge of town. I packed up the food and drove to their house.

I am never sure how one goes about “doing charity” while preserving the dignity of those who receive the charity. When the woman, surrounded by her several children, answered the door, I thought of a subtle way to offer the food to her.

I asked, “Do you know anyone who could use some extra food?”

“You bet,” she said and got her coat, headed toward her car saying, “Follow me.”

She took me to people who were poorer than her, people who desperately needed food. Even though she herself needed food, I remember clearly that there was absolutely no hesitation on her part.

Being rich is relative…so is being poor; I guess it all depends on who you compare what you have with; For some people though, giving is second nature.

t.s.: and when it is…look at what Paul says the rich should expect…

3.    What the rich should expect:

exp.:

  1. The Result of Faithfulness: the rich will lay a good foundation for the future; εἰς τὸ μέλλον; lit.: into the about (to be); Mello is translated ‘about’: it is used to describe an event that is yet to take place, but is ‘about’ to happen; ex.: Zacchaeus, climbed a sycamore tree because Jesus was ‘about’ to pass by; Jesus in describing the end times; the wrath to come; someone is ‘about’ to die; something is about to happen; This is used of the apocalypse; the return of Jesus; when Paul says, the rich will lay a good foundation for the future, he’s referring to heaven, the about to be event; Oh, I wish I could think eschatologically in all my ways, dealings, and efforts.
  2. The Reason for Faithfulness: in order to grasp the true or real (ontos) life, eschatological, eternal life. Paul isn’t saying that by being generous with their riches that they will earn their way into heaven. No, by living a generous, share-your-wealth lifestyle, the rich are grasping that this place is just something we’re passing through to something much more wonderful.

Conclusion: This week Debbi Raney’s mom, Marie Freeman passed away. It was so encouraging to hear her testimony of faith. The passage the pastor shared was from 2 Corinthians 5, where Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. It was an open casket, so we saw Mrs. Freeman. But, not really! She wasn’t there anymore. The tent she used as a body had been shed and she was now in the presence of her savior. To say she had died, was really misleading, for she is more alive now than she’s ever been. She’s in the ‘about to be’ place.

What filters do you view the world through? Do you see the world in your life, Tyler, Texas, 2019? Or do you view it through eternity…knowing that all you have is a gift? I hope you’ll see it through God’s eyes and…use it for His glory!

Take-a-way: In whatever you find your circumstance or situation in life, may you be found faithful.

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1 Timothy 6.11-16

Title: A Word of Encouragement
Text: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
CIT: Encouragement
CIS: Encouragement

Introduction: Which of the two would you rather hang around with: someone who is negative or someone who is positive?

Max Lucado: I discovered the importance of healthy counsel in a half-Ironman triathlon. After the 1.2 mile swim and the 56-mile bike ride, I didn’t have much energy left for the 13.1-mile run. Neither did the fellow jogging next to me. I asked him how he was doing and soon regretted posing the question.

“This stinks. This race is the dumbest decision I’ve ever made.” He had more complaints than a taxpayer at the IRS. My response to him? “Goodbye.” I know if I listened too long, I’d start agreeing with him.

I caught up with a 66-year-old grandmother. Her tone was just the opposite. “You’ll finish this,” she encouraged. “It’s hot, but at least it’s not raining. One step at a time…don’t forget to hydrate…stay in there.” I ran next to her until my heart was lifted and my legs were aching. I finally had to slow down. “No problem.” She waved and kept going.

t.s.: Encouragement. There’s really nothing else like it. And that is what Paul is doing in this passage. And by doing this, he is setting a great example for leaders. He ends his letter on a positive note. He has just delivered the four features of false teachers and now moves to a conclusion with a positive twist…rd v 11a…but as for you, O man of God; this passage of encouragement can be divided into three equal parts: his encouragement for Timothy to persist and (2) to persevere. And he closes with a beautiful doxology of praise to God; this 1st section is an encouragement to persist in the ministry…

1.      Persistence (11-12)

exp.:; Persistence: to continue firmly in a state or action in spite of obstacles or objections; rd v 11, but you, O man of God; Your different than those false teachers who pursue their own passions for personal gain; But has the flavor of Instead; “Man of God” this is a term used in the OT of Moses, and other prophets like Elijah, King David. Paul uses it here and in 2 Tim 3:17, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work; don’t do those things the false teacher does, but instead…Paul introduces 4 imperative verbs for Timothy; the first is…

  • Flee – ‘these things’; this word in the Gk (φεύγω (pheugō) is the word we get fugitive from; 2nd,
  • Followpursue; the lexicon defines this word as; follow in haste; the idea is to chase after these other things: I think you can group these ‘things’ (as Paul says) into two separate attributes you should be pursuing…
    • Christian Conduct: (What you do) righteousness, godliness, faith
    • Christian Virtues: (How you respond) love, patience (steadfastness, endurance, perseverance), gentleness (compound word: gentle and to suffer – might carry a nuance of “gentleness in the midst of suffering”; So Paul is saying: Timothy, Don’t chase after money, popularity, position (like the false teachers) but instead, chase after righteousness,… 3rd,
  • Fight – 12a; to compete; ἀγωνίζου; agonize; used to describe what athletes do; stay in the competition; the one of faith; … #4;
  • Faithfulness – rd v 12b; to your calling, to your confession, exp.: possible baptism, ordination; possible two separate events or maybe the same; remember to do what you said you would do in the presence (in the sight of) of many witnesses;

ill.: my prayer chair; in what a good friend calls the ‘holy of holies’; my office

app.: what a great motivator, what a great reminder, we’re not called to success as the world labels success, we’re called to flee, follow, fight, and be faithful to our calling…

t.s.: He’s encouraged first to persist, and 2nd, here to

2.     Persevere

exp.: you see the charge in v 13…The Charge:

  • The Seriousness of the Charge: in ‘presence of’ (same as 12) God, who is the life-giver; life sustainer, maker, keeper; (in some context, this would not be so encouraging, but that isn’t how this is presented; IVP’s Phillip Towner writes: In another context this truth might be a source of comfort (Lk 12:6; Acts 2:25), but the presence of God is typically invoked to ensure veracity (Lk 1:19) or, as here to strengthen the sense of obligation contained in an apostolic command. Jesus: Don’t fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can kill both the body and the soul; I wonder, as you consider entering into the very presence of God, are you at peace or terrified? Is there a certain trepidation or is there calm? I’ll be honest, I had to ponder that for a moment. I wonder if I’m too quick to say that I’d feel peace and be calm.
  • The Standard of the Charge: rd 13b Jesus, who is the example; he made his confession before Pontius Pilate and was found faithful, even to the point of death; a great standard; too often we compare ourselves to each other; we can usually find someone living below our standard and say that we’re doing pretty good! But here, Paul doesn’t even say that he, himself is the standard. No, Christ who is perfectly faithful…
  • The Substance of the Charge: rd v 14a; Keep the Commandment; τηρέω (tēreō); Hold it close, guard it; continue in it; sometimes ‘obey’; “I charge you, Keep the commandment… How?
  • The Scope of the Charge: rd 14b; to keep it unstained (unblemished) and free from reproach; Do you see the breadth of this command:
    • How it is? (unstained)
    • How it should remain (free from reproach)
    • How long it should be kept: ‘until’ Jesus returns

t.s.: The final section of the passage is the doxology or Praise…

3.     Praise

exp.: a doxology to God; this praise seems to be in protest of the earthly emperor (probably Nero); because he says here; rd v 15: God is the blessed and ‘the only sovereign”; King of Kings and Lord of Lords;

This is a combination of the Old Testament and Hellenistic languages;

  • Sovereign isn’t seen very often here, but many times in the LXX; Hellenistic
  • King of Kings and Lord of Lords is OT language (Hebrew/Jewish);
  • Here is the point: emperors die, But our God is the only immortal King; beautiful conclusion; who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. This reminds me of Daniel 7 and the Ancient of Days and, Revelation 4 which describes God in Colors… clothed in rainbows of living colors, flashes of lighting – rolls of thunder.

App.: Paul says much of the same thing of himself, as he is closing out his 2nd letter to Timothy; 2 Tim 4:7,8: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.

So we persist, we persevere and we praise our God until he sends his Son, or he determines that we are finished and he calls us home; That might sound sad, but I don’t think it is!

Conclusion: (From Sermon Illustrations online)

Ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a group of citizens in North Platte, Nebraska, heard a rumor that soldiers from their town, part of the Nebraska National Guard Company D, would be coming through on a troop train on their way to the West Coast. Five hundred people showed up at the train depot with food, cigarettes, letters, and love to give their own sons and young men they knew.

When the train showed up, it was not the Nebraska National Guard Company D boys on board; it was the soldiers from the Kansas National Guard Company D.

After a few awkward moments, a woman handed a young man she’d never seen the gifts intended for her own son. Everyone else followed that lead, and there were hugs and prayers and love shared all around. It was a spontaneous act of genuine devotion that touched both the soldiers and the people who came to the depot that day. That alone would have been a beautiful illustration of the willingness to “sacrifice for one another.” But the story continues.

A few days later, a 26-year-old woman named Rae Wilson wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper recounting the profound experience they’d shared that night. She then suggested the town organize a canteen, so they could do something similar for every troop train that came through. She offered to lead the effort as a volunteer.

For the next four and a half years, the people of North Platte and the surrounding communities met every troop train that came through their town. Every day, they prepared sandwiches, cookies, cold drinks, and hot coffee. They had baskets of magazines and books to give away to the soldiers, and snacks for the train. There were even birthday cakes for anyone having a special day. And they did this, some days, for as many as 8,000 soldiers and sailors.

The statistics are staggering. By the time the last train arrived on April 1, 1946, six million soldiers had been blessed by the North Platte Canteen. Forty-five thousand volunteers had served faithfully until the war was over and most of the troops had been transported home.

Most of the troops had only ten minutes to sprint from the train, grab some food, maybe dance with a pretty girl, hear the appreciation of those present, and sprint back before the train left without them. But in those ten minutes, they got more than a meal. They received a dose of unconditional love that they remembered later—during the heat of battle as well as decades after the war was over.

Bob Greene, whose book Once Upon a Town made the North Platte Canteen story known to the world, wrote that, as he interviewed those few surviving soldiers who had experienced the canteen firsthand, there was a universal reaction from the men (who were by that time in their late seventies and eighties): they cried.

This isn’t a half-ironman, it’s much longer, keep going! This is a huge task we’ve been called to…. And it does touch so many lives – maybe even people we don’t know…

So, in your faith and calling: Persist in your calling, Persevere in your commitment, and Praise God.

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1 Timothy 6.3-10

Title: The Four Features of False Teachers

Text: 1 Tim 6:3-10

CIT: What out for men who lead others astray; you’ll notice them by four distinct features;

CIS: The marks of these men are still evident…

 

Introduction: I’m grateful for the men who’ve walked through 1 Timothy with me. Jason and Joshua, Duffey and Shawn, Andrew and Henry. Thanks, guys, we have a meeting on the calendar for tonight. Andrew was hoping that we could get together and offer him some guidance in his work. Be thinking about that. I reach out by text later to see who can be there.

What a blessing to share in this ministry of the Word with these men, who are very near and dear to my heart. To those men: I hope you’ve been challenged. I hope you’ve been encouraged. I hope you’ve learned something – no matter the level of your experience in handling God’s Truth. I love you men and hope and pray for your continued growth in these areas.

Andrew’s conclusion last Sunday morning in his sermon was: We exist for the glory of God.

I’d like to add to that. We exist for the glory of God. And here is the scary part: you will glorify God in your life – no matter how you live that life. Your sin brings glory to God. Those who reject and press against the Truth of God will ultimately display his tremendous glory through their rebellion. God will be proven to be right and he will be glorified. God is glorified when his grace and mercy are displayed through his forgiveness of our sin. Someone might say, “Well then Fred, should we continue to sin so that God might continue to be glorified?” And I say μὴ γένοιτο! God forbid!

I have often prayed that God would not let me be one of those people. I want to glorify God in and through my life as displayed in obedience and faithfulness to him.

In today’s passage, we find men who are not like the men you’ve seen teach and preach this past summer. The men in the text are false teachers and their passion is their own fleshly appetites. Paul presents to Timothy four features of these false teachers:

  1. Their Characteristics
  2. Their Conduct
  3. Their Compulsion
  4. Their Condemnation

Look with me at v 3-4 to identify the first feature of a false teacher:

I.     The False Teacher’s Characteristics (3-4a)

exp.: rd v 3-4; If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.

  1. He teaches a different doctrine; it’s the same, but it is different. I’ve told you about this word before; heteros; (3a) ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ; hetero another (of a different kind) v homos; another (of the same kind; ) He does not agree with the Lord’s teaching. (3b) It isn’t healthy (sick) and doesn’t center on the Lord’s teaching.
  2. He is ungodly. (3c) His teaching isn’t teaching that accords with godliness.
  3. He is conceited. (4a) word is difficult to translate. This could be translated foolish.
  4. He understands nothing; If you translate this word (τετύφωται) conceited, then “understands nothing” (ἐπιστάμενος) is concessive (He is conceited, even though he knows nothing.) However, if τετύφωτα means foolish, then ἐπιστάμενος is an intensifier (He is foolish and knows nothing). Both would be true.

app.: The characteristics of a false teacher are apparent: his teaching doesn’t coincide with scripture. It doesn’t line up with what Christ has taught us. Here’s a good way to spot him: His teachings are more about his knowledge of some concept, even though he might not even grasp what he’s teaching. His teaching points to him and not to Christ. It puffs him up and not Jesus. It makes much of him and not Jesus.

t.s.: 1st, we see his Characteristics. 2nd, we see his conduct.

II.    The False Teacher’s Conduct (4b -5)

exp.: What he teaches, transfers over into his behavior; continuing on in v 4…He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

‘Unhealthy craving’; Lit.: sick, ailing to the point of death. In English, someone might say a morbid curiosity (NASB). This ‘desire’ is in contradiction to the healthy, sound teaching of Christ in v 3; look at this progression of his conduct:

  • 1st, a ‘sick’ craving for controversy, quarrels about words, some translations say, “fights w/ words”; this is a compound word – two words put together: lit.: λόγος – word and μάχη – fight;
  • 2nd, this produces envy and dissension,
  • 3rd, which moves to slander and evil suspicions,
  • and the result is that the church lies in constant friction; this is a natural progression: Bill Mounce writes: Where there are speculations and word battles, one naturally finds envy and strife; envy and strife naturally develop into slander and evil suspicions, and where these are present there is a constant irritation. And these flow out from the characteristics he has already displayed. It moves naturally from the characteristics of his teaching to the conduct of his life, which is naturally divisive; that is what Satan wants; this is why Paul warns Timothy earlier; 3:6, 7: He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

ill.: In October of 2007, a story came out of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands that shook many people. The children of Barneveld found an interesting plaything. They didn’t know what it was, but it was cool looking, so they played with it. One of the kids found it while playing in the dirt. Soon, they began to create games with this new play toy. It stayed on the playground for months, being there each day when the kids went out to play on the playground. They played catch with it. They hit it; threw it; slammed it on the ground; they created all types of games around this plaything. One day some months later, an adult finally took notice. Authorities were called and sure enough, it was confirmed that the children had unearthed a live, unexploded artillery shell from World War II. The authorities took the plaything away and exploded it in a safe place.

app.: I think about those kids and wonder where the adults were. I wonder if any adults saw and didn’t think anything about it. What took so long? Were these adults, who were responsible for these children, lazy? Or, were they simply ignorant? Either way, this is an example of the supervision of such leaders who don’t know about the explosive device they’re pushing on their followers. Such false teachers are either lazy or ignorant or both.

t.s.: They’re more caught up in themselves than they are their listeners. 1st, we see the Characteristics of these false teachers and (2nd) how it transfers over into his behavior through his Conduct and continues to drive him. And beginning in verse 6, what see what drives him, his compulsion…rd v 6;

III.   The False Teacher’s Compulsion (6-10)

exp.: But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Godliness with contentment is great gain; but not so with these false teachers. They are not content w/ godliness. They want more – physical stuff. They are not content with what they have (the material blessings); So, they use their teaching to chase after monetary gain; they desire gold instead of God;

In Philippians, Paul writes: 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

ill.: In 14th Century Belgium the was a King, Raynald III. Raynald had a younger brother, Edward. I’m not sure what happened or how it happened, but Raynald had a major disagreement with his younger brother Edward. Edward was so angry at his older brother, that he led a successful revolt against him. Raynald was defeated by his younger brother, but Edward chose not to kill him.

Instead, (and you’ve probably heard this story before) Edward did something incredibly cruel to his brother. He built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of normal-sized proportions—none of which were locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight.

But Edward knew his older brother. Each day, Edward sent a variety of delicious foods into the room. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew even larger. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave anytime he wants to do so. Raynald stayed in that room for 10 years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined that he died within a year—a prisoner of his own appetite.

app.: False teachers are concerned with their own appetites for adoration, admiration, prestige, position. They feed their selfish desires by using people. They ignorantly lead people astray through selfish ambition and vain conceit. I’m reminded of Ezekiel 34: 1The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

And of course, God’s judgment against those shepherds was harsh.

t.s.: And so will it be for today’s false teachers: The False Teacher’s compulsion to whet and satiate his own appetite will be his downfall, which is the fourth feature…

IV.    The False Teacher’s Condemnation (9-10)

exp.: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

  • fall, into (1) temptation, (2) a snare, (3) senseless and harmful desires;
  • plunge into (1) ruin and (2) destruction;
  • wandered from the faith
  • pierced themselves;

app.: Oh, the dangers of using God’s Word to chase after one’s own pursuits and pleasures and passions. Instead, we should be chasing after God, making much of him.

Conclusion: In thinking of this compulsion that leads to condemnation – this appetite where we see their god is their belly, I’m reminded of a funny remark by Philip Yancy. He wrote an article entitled, What 147 Elk taught me about prayer:

I’ve become more convinced than ever that God finds ways to communicate with those who truly seek him, especially when we lower the volume of the surrounding static. I remember reading the account of a spiritual seeker who interrupted a busy life to spend a few days in a monastery.

“I hope your stay is a blessed one,” said the monk who showed the visitor to his cell. “If you need anything, let us know, and we’ll teach you how to live without it.”

Because, all we really need, when it comes right down to it, is Christ!

So, let’s look at our take-a-ways for this morning.

Application:

  • Study God’s Word. Study alone, Study with your spouse, Study with a group, Study at church. I know it is hard to know everything in God’s Word, but the truth is, if you know the genuine article really well, then you’ll recognize the counterfeit when he comes your way. Make sure any author you use takes you back into God’s Word. Don’t just trust a book because you got it from Lifeway!
  • Spiritual maturity is a must; it comes from walking with Christ; it comes from walking with those who’ve walked with Christ, who have been where you are.
    • : Are you in a relationship with a mature believer? Consider it if you’re not.
  • Don’t contribute to the cycle of controversy and quarrels. I think this is probably perpetrated through gossip. So, the simple solution is to just not to participate. Community Group leaders: this is a call for you to keep a close watch on this sort of stuff. (ill.: I have a pastor friend who warned against forming community groups; his experience was that a community group was more of a time to complain; eventually, everyone in that group left the church)
  • Make sure your passionate pursuit is for godliness which leads to contentment, and not gold, which leads to destruction. Ask yourself in whatever you’re doing: why am I doing this…

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1 Timothy 4.1-5

Title: The false appearance of godliness

Text: 2 Timothy 4.1-5

Introduction: We’ll begin in 2 Timothy 4 and at some point look at 1 Corinthians 7 & Mark 7. So, go ahead and find those other texts. We all filter our experiences through our worldview. You have one, whether you know it or not. Hopefully, it is a Biblical Worldview. That is the main reason I love Starting Points. It is a great class for helping your children develop a Biblical Worldview. In that class, a student creates a filter, a colander of sorts. This filter is based upon God’s Word. Then, as life goes by and these students watch movies or read books or articles, they will filter what they hear through their worldview.

Story of Peter: This is what happens to Peter in Acts 10. God is at work in the lives of two individuals: Peter and Cornelius. Tell the Story.

God is changing Peter’s worldview. He is seeing that Gentiles could get saved. He’s seeing that Gentiles could get saved and not have to become Jews first.

That illustration, that example, that story was experienced and written down for your and my benefit. The Holy Spirit was at work in the lives of those men to teach us. If you keep reading in Acts 11, you’ll see that Peter reports back to the leadership in Jerusalem. By the time we get to Acts 15, so many Gentiles are being saved that the Jews must deal with this issue of OT laws. Their worldview was changing.

But not everyone could get on board with this new way of thinking. Too many Jews, who had become Christians, just couldn’t give up the law. For one reason or another, they held to their Jewish worldview of legalism.

Now, fast-forward a couple of decades to where the Gospel has spread… well, all the way to Rome. And even though it had been concluded that Gentiles did not have to become Jews before they could get saved – the old worldview still corrupted the church through false teaching.

Henry has set us up nicely as he teed up our topic for us last week… Let me share with you his summation and how that fits with where we’re going as we make our way through July.

Henry said: Right actions of a right people flow from a right devotion to a righteous God revealed in His Son. I don’t know if this was his intention or not, but he described godliness. You might even say it is a great definition for godliness. Godliness is doing the right thing for the right reason.

  • Right actions: your behavior, what you do
  • Of a right people: Christians, made right through Christ. Forgiven. The actions of these people…
  • Flow from a right devotion: this is one’s intentions, their aim, and purpose in life. What they do isn’t motivated by selfishness or self-service in any way.
  • To a righteous God: No, it isn’t self-serving, it is all for God and his glory. That is their joy, their satisfaction.
  • (As) revealed in His Son: I added the word “as” for convenience. Jesus has demonstrated with his life what godliness looks like. He is the embodiment of godliness. We do what we do because we believe he would do that, too. We act like him, we talk like him, we serve like him, and we sacrifice like him. We do everything to the best of our abilities to be like him.

And when we do, they call us “Christians”. You’re just like your ‘Savior’, Jesus.

But there is a problem, in our text – this isn’t what the false teachers were preaching and teaching! Their view of godliness was earned. Godliness came through regulation and rules, through abstinence and denial. So Paul gives Timothy three actions of the believer to combat against False Godliness (Asceticism). Look with me at our text in 1 Timothy 4.1-5; So Paul says to Timothy that Ungodliness will infiltrate teaching in the church. Expect it to be taught, here are a couple of examples, and recognized the error in that teaching by knowing the Truth. Repeat. False Godliness

  • Expect it to be taught
  • Identify it when you see it. Here are some Examples of it (What it is…)
  • Understand what it does: it steals your joy! (What it does…)

Transition: So, let’s take these actions one at a time.

Three actions to combat against False Godliness (Asceticism):

  1. Expect it (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1; Really? People will actually do this? Yes, and you know this because the Holy Spirit has told you so. You should expect this false teaching promoting false godliness. It will be preached and taught and there will be those who will listen and follow – and as a result, they will be led away. The Holy Spirit expressly says, declares, and makes it known to us. It is going to happen, so don’t be surprised, expect it. Timothy repeats this in his next letter: cf. 2 Tim 3.1-7;

This is the beauty of our faith: we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We don’t walk alone and we don’t walk in ignorance. When you become a believer by faith, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your spirit. This is one of the foundational, rudimentary doctrines of our faith. And we experience him in various ways as he guides, directs, teaches…

A thing or two about false teachers and those who follow them:

  1. They don’t lose their salvation – they leave the faith (1a); is there a difference? You bet there is! 1 John 2.19 – 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
  2. Their devotion is toward deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1b)
  3. They ignore the foundation of truth and they follow the insincerity of liars (2)
  4. Their false doctrine leads to your false godliness: these people devote themselves to the wrong people and wrong actions thinking that those actions or behaviors are what makes them godly.

Transition: as a Christian, you’ve been forewarned of this invasion of the enemy: Expect it. Now that you know it is going to happen, how do you prepare for it? And this is our 2nd Action:

  1. Identify it (3)

exp.: You should be aware of what this false teaching looks like, in order that you might avoid its pitfall. Rd v 3; these folks were told that marriage was forbidden and sinful, as well as, they were required to abstain from certain foods. For sure, this isn’t an exhaustive list, it isn’t every doctrine that is false – it’s just two of them.

  • Lies about marriage: Celibacy/Single; today it would be cohabitation; sex outside of marriage; Gay marriage

exp.: We see this doctrine of marriage being misunderstood from the beginning of Christianity. Consider Paul’s counsel for people to remain single – in order that their devotion might be single-minded. 1 Cor. 7.1-9; rd v 1; just that alone, appears to say that marriage shouldn’t happen. But, when you read more, you realize that just isn’t the case. Rd 2-5; Sex is to be enjoyed within the confines of marriage. Outside of that context and you have misery. Look at 6-9;

Paul says within the confines of marriage, sex is good. But false teachers say, no – sex is bad. This is Satan’s greatest victory over Christians: he takes what God gives us and perverts it in one of two ways. First, he takes the gift of God and expands the boundaries to include everyone and everything. Or, 2nd, he goes the other way and limits the gift of God to the point that you never find joy in God’s gift.

Did you know that throughout most of the history of Christianity that sex has been seen as bad? R Kent Hughes has done some great research on this subject. He identifies many teachings throughout Christian history which identify sexual love as being wicked and evil. Tertullian, Ambrose, and Augustine wrote of the evils of sexual love. He quotes Ambrose: married people ought to blush at the state in which they are living. Augustine said that the sexual relationship in marriage was innocent, but the passion which comes along with the act is always sinful. The early church fathers praised virginity as superior to marriage. The Council of Trent denounced any who would deny such a thing. And the reformers didn’t help matters! Do you know who actually began to turn the tide on this thinking? The Puritans! Hughes quotes Dr. Leland Ryken: The Puritan doctrine of sex was a watershed on the cultural history of the West. The Puritans devalued celibacy, glorified compassionate marriage, affirmed married sex as both necessary and pure, established the ideal of wedded romantic love, and exalted the role of the wife.

I’ve got to be honest – I was so not expecting that! To be declared Puritanical is to declare a rigid, frigid, and presented in a negative way. When one thinks of Puritans, they don’t think of sex education. So, to clarify: I like what the Puritan’s had to teach! Let’s get this straight. Sex is great when understood as within the context of God’s design. That’s right, I said that from the pulpit. Sex is a wonderful gift from God. Enjoy it within the confines of marriage. Here is your warning: If you engage in this activity outside of that context, then you will experience pain, destruction, sorrow, depression, and all such misery. If you’re listening to me right now, please identify this false doctrine.

Paul then gives us a 2nd doctrine to identify.

  • Lies about foods: Don’t eat and Don’t drink

exp.: These two examples seem to be right out of the beginning of Genesis, don’t they? I think of Eve’s words – Don’t eat it, don’t even touch it. There are denominations that exist today that take the Old Testament Laws on forbidden, unclean food and apply it to their people. It is a lie that has been perpetuated throughout time. And Southern Baptists aren’t any different. We still apply traditional prohibitions to people – we say if you’re saved you can’t… eat this or that, or we say you can’t drink this or that.

It reminds me of the old country song from the ’70s that was sung by the Imperials as a dig toward conservatives: if you have long hair, then you can’t be saved. That was the big thing in the ’60s and ’70s: cut your hair and shave your beard! Some of you know what I’m talking about…

ill.: the big joke was of the boy who wanted to get a car. He begged his dad. His dad said that his grades were low, his room was a mess and his hair was too long – it needed to be cut. The son agreed to work on those things. Next report card came out and he had all A’s. His father acknowledged his room had been clean and looking really nice. The Dad said, but son, you didn’t cut your hair. The son said, “Yes, sir, I know, but Jesus had long hair. And without missing a beat the Dad said, “Yeah, but he walked everywhere he went, too.”

app.: I’m so glad we’ve moved beyond the coat and the tie requirement. And I’m glad you don’t have to cut your hair and your beard to be saved. But we still aren’t there if we put requirements of food and drink on people to declare their salvation and godliness.

Transition: Teaching on False Godliness – expect it, identify it and 3rdly…

  1. Understand what it does:

exp.: it steals your joy – You should know the truth about these doctrines. You should know and identify their parameters for your own health and safety; whether marriage or food – both are created by God and to be enjoyed by his people! Rd v 4-5; Everything God made is Good! Everything! 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Turn with me to Mark 7.14-23; rd Mk 7.14-23; when you choose to put limits on what God’s gifts, then you miss out on the joy God intended for you to experience. Here’s our problem: we over-indulge in the gifts of God – and that can be a bad thing. Whenever you over-indulge in the gifts, you begin to seek the gift more than the giver of those gifts. Over-indulgence is a bad thing, just as exclusion is a bad thing. There is a happy medium that we need to find.

So, let’s bring the pendulum back to the middle. Let’s stop the extremes of God’s gifts: denial and abstinence or license and debauchery. And instead, enjoy all that this life offers as given by God. Amen?

Truth:

  • Fasting can bring you closer to God. But this is a serious endeavor and should not be embarked upon without preparation. May I be bold enough to say, yes – many of us need to fast.
  • Paul said in 1 Cor 7 that abstinence from your marriage partner for a time can be beneficial to your soul. But don’t use this as an excuse and don’t hurt your spouse with it. Sex isn’t a tool to use for getting what you want. It is a wonderful experience of intimacy in the marriage as created by God.
  • But God gave you these gifts to enjoy in life. Wow… go figure, God wants you to find pleasure in this life and you will find your pleasure in life when you are most satisfied in Him.

Take-a-ways:

  1. If you are not enjoying God’s gifts, get some help. Get help for the sake of your marriage. Get help for the sake of your sanity. Get help for the sake of your family.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met with and offered counsel to over these issues. Many of us bought into the lies of the world and the false doctrines brought into the church and we experienced the depression, the sadness, the anger, the abuse, and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with disobedience. And, we carried that baggage into our marriage. Husbands and wives have fought over these issues because they still feel guilty. Hey get help, get forgiveness, forgive yourself and live life to its fullest. Stop wallowing in your misery. It’s not healthy.

  1. Understand the beauty of moderation – The pendulum extremes are indulgence or abstinence. No, let’s find a happy medium here.

Here’s the thing about moderation – don’t impose your rules upon others. And, don’t confuse your activity or your inactivity with godliness. Just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re godly. Just because you don’t physically cheat on your spouse, doesn’t mean you’re godly. Here’s the big problem with these false teachers – they impose a set of rules as requirements for godliness. Don’t do the same thing.

  1. Never confuse godliness with ritual or routine. Yes, it is important to come to church every Sunday, but that doesn’t demonstrate godliness either. Don’t confuse the two.

I wonder if it saddens the Father to see us missing out on the wonderful life he has designed because we fall for the lies of Satan? I wonder if he thinks that he made it so simple and we complicate it all. I wonder if it breaks his heart to see

  • a young woman destroyed by her decisions;
  • a young man suffering from his decisions;
  • a family, broken apart by another person’s decisions;
  • a person’s understanding that they are godly because they do this or that and avoid this or that.

Can I just conclude with this plea: God has created life to be enjoyed to the fullest possible extent. He created it, he designed it and wrote the manual on how it should be run. Will you trust him with it all?

If you’ve been trying to obtain godliness through all of your action or inaction, can offer you a moment to repent of that? Maybe you’ve never come to Christ and found the forgiveness of your sins. You’ve played the game of life and you’ve lost. Come to Christ. We’ll have a moment of silence and then we’ll be dismissed with a word of prayer. We’ll gather in the back for a time of fellowship – come to talk to someone about how to live this life to its fullest.

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1 Timothy 3.8-13

Title: The Two Offices of the Church: Deacons are like Elders, mostly

Text: 1 Timothy 3.8-13

Deacons: A different group of people.

I want to talk to you today about the greatest need at Calvary Baptist Church, Tyler, TX. I’m talking desperation, here. This is a great day to take notes, and if you’re taking notes write this down: for the ministry and mission of Calvary, right now, our greatest need is for deacons. We have some deacons, but they’ve been working on a very limited basis. There is too much work for too few men. Some have gotten older and can’t handle the load that they used to carry. And so much then falls through the cracks.

Now I wonder, if some of you might be asking at this point: “Really Fred? That’s our greatest need?” Yeah, it probably is. Ministry opportunities are currently uncovered and not happening because we just don’t have the men and women in place to keep up with the need.

And it really shouldn’t be that way. We have enough people. Why is that?

  • My guess is that people just don’t know.
  • Maybe there is a stigma attached to the word deacon – like, someone feels they’re too young.

We as a body need to remedy this. So, today I’m going to talk to you about deacons and ministry in the church; and, just what we as a church need to be doing about it.

Our text is 1 Tim 3.8-13. I’ve divided this message into two parts with one excursus.

  1. Their Character (8-10)
  2. Their Competence (12-13)
  3. Excursus: Women in ministry (11). And we’ll talk about this when we get to verse 11.

So let’s take a moment and look at our biggest need right now. We need men and women to step up and fill in the missing gaps.

Some of you might be asking yourself if you’re deacon material. That’s a great question. Let’s talk about that. 1st, Paul tells us of…

  1. Their Upstanding Character

Exp.: It’s really a very short list; basically, a review of what’s already been said; rd v8a; Deacons likewise must be dignified. In the Gk there are three words; there is no verb here in the Gk, but it is supplied by the reader because the reader has it from above (cf.v2); must be, needs to be, it is necessary; Honorable, dignified. It’s not any different than the elders, with the exception of being able to teach. You might even sum it up by saying: these guys are elder-like. They have an upstanding character. That’s what the ‘likewise’ is for; it means in a similar manner or in like manner. To clarify, deacons aren’t to be…; rd 8b not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

  • Not double-tongued could mean one of two things, and I think both apply.
    • 1st, not to say one thing and do another.
    • 2nd, not to say one thing to one person and something else to another.
  • Not addicted to much wine. This coincides with the elders. There isn’t anything wrong with a glass of wine, it’s when there is no self-control and wine takes control.
  • Not greedy for dishonest gain. I love the KJV: not greedy of filthy lucre. Again, there is control over passion and pursuits when it comes to money.

To say one thing and do another isn’t honorable. To say something to someone and something else to someone else is not honorable or dignified. Getting drunk is not dignified. Being selfish and greedy and doing what you do in the pursuit of money isn’t honorable or dignified.

A simple way to see this is to see them living out what they believe. rd v 9-10; They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. – 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. I note two parts to this:

  • An informed faith: deacons are not required to teach like elders are, but they do hold to the mystery of the faith. Mystery simply means that at one time it was hidden, but now it has been revealed. That’s the gospel. Many didn’t see it coming the way it did, but now they see. Now they know. And they not only hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, but they’ve been tested in it.
  • An incessant faith: it remains through all of the tough times. Many problems in life and in the church have come and gone, but they remain. They are a constant – like a lighthouse in the bay – their light continues to shine and guide others in spite of what storms rage around them.

Transition: these guys have been tested and tried and have come out on the other side blameless. Now, rd v 11 with me; – 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.

  1. Aside: Women who serve

Exp.: I want to be careful, but clear. The Gk reads literally: women likewise dignified. Grammatically, I want you to note:

  1. There is no pronoun their in the Gk. Some scholars argue that it is That means that previously, it was supplied and so you would supply it here, too. The argument is that the woman in chapter two is Eve and she is the wife of Adam and so, here it is the wife.
  2. The verb is to be supplied. So, women likewise must be dignified. This is the same exact wording as v 8, only in the feminine form. What does this mean? Well, it isn’t clear.

4 possible solutions:

  1. Women are deacons, too.
  2. Women who are not deacons, but rather deaconesses and a different group altogether.
  3. Women are married to the deacons and a part of their ministry. Now there is a 4th option and it is very close and similar to #3…
  4. Women are servants and assistants to the deacons in their ministry.

Of these 4 possible solutions: I don’t think it is #1. #2 – I like # 2, but really need to explain why I like it. I think one of the last two of these is a real possibility.

  1. Women are deacons, too. I don’t think that is Paul’s presentation. Strike it.
  2. Women who are not deacons, but rather deaconesses and a different group altogether. Possible, but I don’t think this is Paul’s presentation either. You would have an argument with the usage of ‘likewise’ but, Paul returns to the deacons in the next verse. So that probably isn’t the case. He isn’t leaving this issue of being deacons. I guess the reason I don’t like it is that it just doesn’t stand on its own. So strike it too.
  3. Women are married to the deacons and a part of their ministry. Highly possible; but I doubt this one. Many women who are married to deacons willingly volunteer their time and help their husbands. But not all do. If that is the case, then should a man not be a deacon if his wife doesn’t help him? Then it would need to be a requirement to become a deacon. Now there is a 4th option and it is very close and similar to #3…
  4. Women are servants and assistants to the deacons in their ministry. Highly possible; Women who serve; We find one such lady listed in Romans 16.1-2; Phoebe; “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.” I think the term ‘Likewise’ gives them a classification, like their different from the men, but still an important and vital part of the church’s ministry;

So, this is how we understand it at Calvary: The deacon body consists of men appointed to this task by the church. There are women and men who serve under the responsibility of the deacons and administrate certain ministries. This is what our constitution says Deacon: Subject to the will of the congregation, the deacons shall care for the temporal needs of the members, attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration.

Question: Why is it that Baptists are against women deacons? My theory is that a typical Baptist church has its deacons serving in elder-type positions and making elder-type decisions. These deacons give oversight and rule. To be brutally honest, many Baptist churches function on their traditions and ignore the Scriptures. They go back to chapter two and see that a woman shouldn’t have authority over a man, therefore, a woman shouldn’t be a deacon. But, Scripture is very clear that Deacons are simply servants. They were created to serve in Acts 6.1-8. Their job was to ‘wait on tables’.

The job of the deacons is to put on an apron and serve. In John 12.2 – Martha served; Luke 17.7-10 – unworthy servant; Luke 22.26-27; 24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

That’s the job of a deacon: to serve. Mark Dever: “Deacons should not act as a separate power bloc or second house of the legislature through which bills need to be passed. If the elders say, ‘Let’s drive to Pittsburgh,’ it’s not up to the deacons to come back and say, ‘No, let’s drive to Philadelphia instead.’ They can legitimately come back and say, ‘Our engine won’t get us to Pittsburgh. Perhaps we should reconsider.’ That’s very helpful. But in general, their job is to support the destination set by the elders.”

When you consider that deacons have no power, except as servants of the body… can women serve like that, too? The answer is yes. And they should…

Finally, Let’s get back to the passage…

  1. Their Outstanding Competence

Exp.: rd v 12; 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Their competence is seen in the way they manage their families:

  • Wife: same as the elder; a man of one woman; he is elder like in his faithfulness to his wife.
  • Children: again, just like last week: this doesn’t mean that his children are perfect.

Their family is a priority. As I think about this in my life, I’m reminded of something Mark Dever once said: the church can get another pastor, but my children cannot get another father. My wife cannot simply get another husband. And so it is with the deacon: his family is his priority.

The life of a deacon displays a servant’s heart. Being a servant means managing: managing funds, schedules, supplies, etc. There is a lot to administer and care for when someone serves. – I think this means you recognize these men because they’re serving already. They have a servant’s heart and that just comes out in what they do.

We are in need of people to serve. Let me rephrase that: we have a desperate need for people to serve.

So, here is my challenge to you:

  • Church, will you pray for the men in our congregation and ask God to show you men who should be serving as deacons?
  • Men, will you seriously pray about saying yes to serve if you’re asked? That’s a big thing for the church to say to you: I see Christ in you, I see your leadership capabilities and we’d be so blessed to have you serve. Will you serve?
  • Women, will you step up and help these men accomplish their duties. Will you be willing to say I’m here and will help in whatever capacity the Lord might want to use me?
    • Will you go visit the shut-ins?
    • Will you help care for the Widows?

*not just on your own, but under the care and guidance of the deacon body?

 

Some of you (men and women alike) are like: I can do that on my own? I don’t have to be a deacon to do that? No, you don’t have to be a deacon to serve. But can I offer a couple of pointers here?

  1. 1st, organization. The ministry needs to be organized. I’m reminded of the book of Judges where each person did what was right in his own eyes. And, it led to chaos, and rebellion and sin, etc. We’re grateful for when people cover areas of ministry where there is a need. But, can I encourage you to work with the deacons on this – help them keep things organized.
  2. 2nd, accountability. There is accountability when you surrender your personal passions to the leadership of the collective whole. That takes great humility and is most Christ-like. Submitting to the leadership of the deacons can keep you accountable to accomplish what you feel God has led you to do.
  3. 3rd, testimony. It is a great testimony against the lie of Satan when you submit to the leadership of the church. The lie of Satan says that authority can never be trusted because it is always tyrannical and oppressive. But there are wonderful, godly men who need your help. And that help starts by submitting to that leadership. And, it is also a testimony to the world when we function as a body the way God designed us to function.

God created two offices in this body: elders and deacons. The elders he has given responsibility to spiritual matters. To the deacons, he has given the responsibility for the physical, temporal matters. What a great testimony we would be if we functioned as we were designed to function.

I’m so grateful for the godly men who have served faithfully as deacons. They’ve blessed me. One such man, you would think, might never have made it back to church. You see, as a little boy, he was very poor. I don’t really remember his name – we called him Woody. Woody wanted to go to church. Somebody had invited him and so each Sunday morning as a little kid, he just walked to church. He went where they told him to go and he loved it. Until one day… one day a man pulled him aside. The man told Woody that we don’t go to church in these kinds of clothes. Those holes in his pant legs were unsuitable for church. He needed his momma to clean him up and fix his hair. He told him to head home and come back when he had nicer things to wear.

Woody didn’t return. He wouldn’t for years. He was an adult when he came to know Christ. What a change! Woody vowed that he would be a different kind of a man. He was loving and kind. He was generous. He was passionate about Christ. Woody was a servant. He was a real deacon who gave me great respect for deacons.

I have no idea what God has been doing in your life – how he has been molding you and shaping you to be the person you are today. But, maybe, just maybe, God has made you who you are today so that you’ll be fit for his service – just the way he wants you.

Let’s bow our heads for just a moment.

It is time for us to observe one of the ordinances of the church: the Lord’s Supper. Deacons, will you come and prepare the Lord’s Supper Table for this moment.

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