Title: E = P x Q
Text: 1 Tim 2.1-10
CIT (Aim): Praying for others and living a quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and holiness are the fertile grounds for fulfilling the Great Commission.
CIS: I want to encourage our congregation to speak up and tell people about Jesus and the hope we have in him.
Context: The Corporate Body – we’re not talking about individual responsibility.
Introduction: E = P x Q; Evangelism = Prayer multiplied by a Quiet, peaceful life with all godliness and dignity.
I like this title, but for sure, it needs some ‘splainin’… More on that in a moment. For now, let that ruminate for a while.
I heard the following story on RadioLab. It’s really good and goes into to so much more detail than I can this morning, so I commend the podcast to you:
I want you to go back in time with me to 1944. Go with me to 1944, up north, to Thermopolis, Wyoming some 30 miles south of where we used to live. Three miners at a place called the High Line Coal Mine, just outside of town, had stepped outside of their mine. I don’t know if they were done for the day and headed home or if they just were taking a break. But, they were standing at the entrance to the mine, just about dusk and they hear this whistling sound over their heads that ends with a loud explosion. Across the Bad Lands, about a mile away, they see this large cloud of dust. Above them, there is this floating circle. Today we’d call it a UFO – an object that is flying, but which is unidentifiable. Someone asks me: do you believe in UFO’s and I say yes. Do I believe in little green men from other planets flying around incognito: No! But, do I believe there are objects that remain unidentified by individuals. Yes. I think there are logical explanations for those things. But, that’s what this is… a floating circle. They best described it as a parachute. But that wasn’t what it was, but something they could identify it with.
They jump in their truck to follow it and do for a little while, but because it is dark, they lose sight of it soon thereafter and abandon the chase.
- About that same time, a little boy and his daddy are working in their barn in Colorado when they hear an explosion. They run outside and there is a smoldering crater in their front yard.
- In Wyoming, a 9-year-old boy is playing in his front yard he hears an explosion.
- Throughout the winter of 1944, there are these strange reports about explosions, and there are sightings of these ‘parachute’ looking things in the skies.
Napa, California; Lane Deer, Montana; Detroit, Michigan, Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, and the list just goes on. Everyone who sees these ‘things’ and hears these explosions come up with many different guesses to what they’ve experienced: plane crashes; gas line explosions; and you name it. But, they’re all guesses. No one knows for sure.
Until one day, Sheriff Hyde came across one these ‘parachute looking’ things and he was able to apprehend it. Sheriff Hyde is probably the quintessential sheriff; serving in Utah, just north of Salt Lake City: Stetson Hat; a giant of a man, gun on his hip. He gets a phone call from a local farmer who says there is this balloon, parachute contraption in my field, just floating around. So, the Sheriff jumps in his car and speeds out to the farm. He runs out into the field and grabs a hold of this thing. He later described it as a huge globe, paper white, and coming down from this globe are these thick 40’ ropes. Attached to the bottom is this heavy metal chandelier with bombs hanging off the bottom.
Well, the Sheriff, leaving his hat and holster and gun in his car, runs up to the ‘thing’ and grabs a rope. He hopes to maybe tie it down and keep it safe for the authorities to come and check it out. But, just as he grabs the rope, a gust of wind comes and takes the balloon up and away. But the sheriff doesn’t let go of the rope. This thing climbs higher and higher and crosses a canyon. But he doesn’t let go. He slams to the ground on the other side of the canyon and he tries to tie it off on some sort of juniper plant, but it brakes loose. He grabs hold and it takes him back across the canyon. It bounces about the field – the same one where it was earlier, but the sheriff can’t hold it down or tie it off. He’s sick and nauseated from being spun around and fighting with this thing for some time. His vision is blurry and exhausted from fighting to keep this thing down, but he doesn’t give up.
You see, he knew the government had been getting these reports of ‘parachute balloons’, the explosions, and UFO reports. But the government didn’t have any proof they really existed. Sheriff Hyde knew this was a great opportunity to lasso one. So he continued to hang on. He was eventually able to get it tied off to the root sticking out of the side of the canyon. He was the first one to actually capture one of these contraptions.
The government came and took it away and said nothing. They (the powers that be) decided that it would be best to keep it all quiet. They didn’t want to set off a panic amongst the people. So they just didn’t say anything. And not saying anything was a costly mistake.
Not saying anything. I think sometimes that not saying anything makes people talk, gossip and guess their way through problems and situations. Not saying anything hurts a situation more than just telling people. People’s imaginations are far worse than the truth. Sometimes it really is the right thing to do, but for the most part, it appears to me that just isn’t the case.
Two people in the church get sick. Both have cancer. One asks the church for prayers and tells them ways they can be praying. For sure, they don’t say everything about their illness, but enough that people are sensitive to their sickness and then they pray. The other says nothing. People start talking. What’s wrong? That start talking to each other… it turns into gossip. I don’t think that most people mean it to be hurtful, but it is what it is. People can’t help themselves, even though they should. And the very thing that the quiet, private person did not want has happened. While the first person doesn’t get gossiped about.
Not saying anything can be costly. Like in our text today…
Look at the title here: E = P x Q. Evangelism equals Prayer multiplied by a quiet, peaceful life lived out in all godliness and dignity.
Paul is writing to Timothy in this letter. He charges Timothy to say something: to confront false teachers and false doctrine. Then, in Chapter two, Paul turns to some basic practices in the church to be observed with order and oversight. These practices are important in combating false doctrine.
Now, Paul could have just listed them and been quick about it:
- First, Pray (you see that in 2.1) and pray for everyone, including your king and other leaders.
- And those public prayers need to be backed up with godly, honorable lives. People are watching.
- If you desire to be an overseer, an elder, then here is your standard. Oh, and it is the same for men and women who serve as deacons in the church.
You see, four sentences and I’m through the next couple of chapters. But that isn’t Paul’s style. That isn’t Paul’s nature. He’s a teacher. So he expounds. He digresses from the topic to explain. And I’m so thankful he does.
Let’s look at these and see how I came up with this formula: E=PxQ.
The Evangelist’s life is filled with prayer and a quiet, peaceful life lived out with all godliness and dignity. How is that so? Paul tells us in the following verses. I’ve listed them as follows:
- The Pleasure of God in His Church (1-3)
- The Plan of God for His Church (4-7)
Let’s look at this first section:
I. The Pleasure of God in His Church (1-3)
exp.: Look what he says in 2.1: rd v 1; first of all; this means the first, as in order and maybe even in importance. You either start with prayer or nothing is more important than prayer. If you ask me which one it is, I’d say, both!
Can I repeat that: It is the first thing you should do and there is probably nothing more important in your winning people to Christ than your prayers for them. Now the context here is public prayers. As the church gathers, the first thing we should do and there is nothing more important than what we do than to pray publicly for all people.
I wonder if you agree… I’d challenge anyone here this morning to stand to their feet and declare a more important component to Evangelism than prayer. Maybe you could teach me something here, something that I’m not seeing.
First of all! That’s a pretty bold statement. Paul has been going off on these false teachers and their false doctrine and then he comes to structure and order in the church. And what comes first? 1First of all, then, I urge that and Paul gives us 4 words for prayer in the church. They’re really all synonyms for prayer.
This is requests, specific request, general requests, and even gratitude. It’s all still just prayer. It’s talking to God. It is interceding on behalf of needs – and the context here is praying for people. And, Paul specifies next that these prayers be made for all people… let’s label this:
- A Call to Prayer: it is like the foundational way we battle false doctrine; but, I think there is more here, and that is seen in this little statement: prayers be made for all people. For sure, there is this universal idea or theme to his statement. In Jewish religious practices, the Jew would normally pray for their neighbor. Paul’s idea is pretty radical compared to what they were used to practicing. Basically, there isn’t anyone who fits outside of these parameters. I don’t think this means to be generic in your prayers: God bless everyone. Let there be peace on earth. But rather, pray for all people. Everyone you can think of. There is no one who you shouldn’t pray for.
I think Paul begins to digress here for a moment in v2. He seems to do that quite often; rd v 2; 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
Let’s call this:
- A Call to Piety: this is holy living. You might see this as the Public’s Perception of us. This is what they see in us. So, with this in mind, I think Paul is being more specific here in what he’s talking about in prayers: this isn’t the private devotional prayer. This is public prayer. It is Public Prayer as observed by others who are watching us in our Worship Services.
ill.: Did you see that President Trump stopped by David Platt’s church this past week? It was all over the news. First, because it looked like he had a new hairstyle. Then, because some of David Platt’s church members were upset that the pastor prayed for the president! David Platt used this passage and prayed for the President. The president had stopped by that morning because he said he wanted to pray for the victims of the Virginia shooting this past week. And David prayed for the president. He didn’t know he was coming. He heard that he would be there at the worship service just a few minutes he actually showed up.
Can I chase a rabbit for a minute, that’s really right up this alley? Y’all, it doesn’t matter who the president is. He still needs our prayers. And someday, she will need our prayers. You may not agree with someone’s politics, but this hatred in the political realm is getting out of hand. I would hope that no matter what politician showed up here asking for prayers that our congregation would act appropriately. And pray for that leader.
Paul tells us why we are to do this: in order that… we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. For the Jews, this was a practice that was encouraged because often times the emperor was to be worshiped. The act of publicly praying for the emperor was encouraging and it caused those in high offices to back off of pressuring the Jews. So, first, the leadership backed off. 2nd, the leadership would be kind toward those people allowing them to lead… a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
app.: Here is Paul’s charge to them through Timothy: Pray and practice Piety. Because he continues in v 3; rd v 3; it pleases God. This is the pleasure of God in the Church: Prayer and Piety. Three P’s: Prayer, Piety, and Pleasure.
t.s.: Let’s continue… 2nd,
II. The Plan of God in His Church (4-7)
exp.: this is good and pleases God, but more than that – it is his plan! Rd 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So, there is this call to prayer and a call to holy living, all within the sight of lost people. And what is the result – that people would get saved. Wouldn’t you just love to please God? Pray for the salvation of all people. Right now, we’re just focusing on Who is your 1? Who is your 1? The challenge is to pray for 1 person, 1x a day, for 1 minute at 1 o’clock. This is our simple way of helping our church fulfill this charge: to pray, to practice piety, and present the gospel. Check this out: his pleasure is that we pray for all people – specifically, that, v4, they get saved by coming to a knowledge of the truth.
And then, Paul tells us how they can get saved: it’s his plan. Rd v 5; One God (holy, perfect) and us sinners; but there is a mediator who brings us together; How did he do that? rd v 6; Christ freely gave himself as a ransom.
This would be my plea to you this morning if you’ve never committed your life to Christ: God is holy and perfect. We are sinners and our sin separates us from God. I like to use a book like this to illustrate the sin that separates us. So, because we were helpless to act on our own, to remove this sin, God has sent his own son to die on the cross for our sins. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and he was raised three days later, where he ascended to be with the Father – and rules and reigns in glory.
And the Bible teaches us that if we’ll surrender our lives to him, that if we confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we’ll be saved.
Paul says, that was his mission, rd v 7; that’s God’s purpose for him. But, that it is also our mission. We’ve been given the Great Commission.
This is truly a beautiful passage if you just let it wash over you. God’s heart is to see all people come to him. 2 Peter 3.9 tells us that it is God’s will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
- God’s Pleasure – (3-4) in a church that prays for He Desires; Salvation
- God’s Plan – (5-6) His Gospel; Son
- God’s Purpose – (7) Paul’s Mission; Sent
Transition: Can you imagine if Paul had remained silent? What if he never said a word?
Conclusion: Remember the story of the UFO’s – the unidentified flying objects? The reports came in from all over the west, but the government didn’t say anything. The military kept quiet about these UFOs.
A couple of years earlier, in April of 1942, Lt. Col. Doolittle and his band of raiders flew what was basically described as a suicide mission to Tokyo. They flew their bombers to Japan and bombed Tokyo and other places in the Japanese Islands. What that did was terrify the Japanese, who had felt safe before, but now, after this bombing mission, left them vulnerable and scared.
People in the US knew of this raid. Doolittle and his men were heroes. But, here’s what the country didn’t know. The Japanese government issued a challenge to their people: we must find a way to bomb the US mainland.
One particular day, a Japanese man was standing on the shores of his island contemplating this challenge and saw a balloon go up into the sky. He noticed it drifted eastward, toward the US. He wondered what would happen if he could launch a larger balloon. Would it rise high enough, and last long enough to make it to the US? He launched a larger balloon and noticed when it got to a certain height it would just take off and head eastward. What he didn’t know, but we do now, is there is this thing called the Jet stream. There were many trial and errors, but eventually, The Japanese govt. loved the idea and weather balloons were chosen. They had sandbags, altimeters, and bombs. The altimeters would keep them below 30,000 feet. And if they got too low, sandbags would drop, causing them to rise back up into the Jet Stream.
Now you know, that’s what those explosions were. That’s what those UFO’s were. And the US Govt. knew, but they chose not to tell the people because they didn’t want to start a panic. They had done geological tests on the sand from the sandbags and determined that not only did the sand come from Japan, but it came from a specific island. They even knew the specific beaches where this sand came from. Man, the wonders of technology. But, they didn’t say anything.
9,000 balloons were launched. And virtually none of them did any damage. None did any harm… except for this one balloon.
Bly, Oregon lies on the southern part of Oregon at the base of Gearheart Mountain. A balloon landed there. Cora Conner and her sister were invited up to the mountain for some fun. Cora’s little sister, It was Sunday, May 5, 1945. Pastor Archie Mitchell and his wife, Elsie, pregnant with their 1st child, invited some youth to go up the mountain for a picnic. …. Wanted to go because there was this guy there who liked her and he was going. …. Begged her sister to go, too, but she couldn’t because she was working the switchboard for the town.
The pastor pulled up and the youth all jumped out of the truck and ran around the area just goofing off, while Pastor Mitchell grabbed the fishing poles and picnic basket and what not. One of the young youth noticed something strange. And, he called all of the kids and Ms. Elsie over to look at this… what we know now was a downed weather balloon with its sandbags and odd looking canisters. Some 30’ in diameter, white, pale, canvas type, contraption laying on the ground. Elise called out to her husband and said that he should come over and look at this thing they’d found. He couldn’t see anything because they were all gathered around this thing – up close and tight. Pastor Archie took a couple of steps toward them when one of the youth picked up the bomb and it exploded – killing all 5 youth and Elsie and her unborn baby.
No one knows for sure, but what if the govt had issued warnings? What would have happened if the people knew about these weather balloons? What if they had known and immediately upon seeing it would have stayed clear until the proper authorities had gotten there? Kids are kids – and curious kids do curious things. Maybe they still would have died because they would have ignored what they knew. But what if they did stay clear because they knew. Maybe they would have lived a long and wonderful life.
The truth is we’ll never know. But this is what I do know: Evangelism isn’t evangelism if we keep silent. You can pray. You can live a godly and honorable life. But if you and I keep silent, then how will they know? Romans 10.14 asks us: 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
You’ve heard of this challenge: Who is your 1? I was so blown away this past week at the many prayer requests you guys shared with the staff – to pray for your One. I want to take that one step further. I was hoping you might join me in praying for each other’s One. Here’s how I’d like to do this.
Challenge: post the names to the cross and pray. Elders, come first, Deacons, too. And then make yourselves available to pray for and with others.