There was once a young couple that got married. Their wedding ceremony and reception was celebrative and beautiful. They attended a ten-day honeymoon spent in delightful relaxation and romance with one another. Upon driving home, the couple was driving on a winding road and a deer jumped out, causing the car to swerve and hit an embankment. The new husband was shaken and without significant injury. However, the bride was bleeding profusely from her head hitting the side window. The husband was unable to locate his cell phone due to the car’s swerving. However, he saw a sign just a little way up the road that read: “The Office Of Dr. Randall Jones – Internal Medicine.”
The husband said a quick “Thank you, Lord” and rushed to rescue his wife from the car. He carried her about 100 yards to the home of Dr. Jones and knocked hard on the door. An old man answered the door and the husband said, “Are you Dr. Jones?” The old man nodded his head and said, “Yes, I am.” The husband spoke quickly, “We’ve been in a car accident and my wife is bleeding. I’m afraid she may not make if it you do not help her as a doctor.”
Much to this young husband’s surprise, Dr. Jones said, “I’m sorry son, I cannot help you. I stopped practicing medicine many years ago. I don’t have any equipment or medical supplies. There is another doctor about 30 miles from here that you might see if they can be of help.”
After much back and forth, the husband shouted in frustration and grief, “Dr. Jones, if you can no longer help hurting people, then please take down your sign.”
Likewise, we have a world full of hurting people. We tell people to come to the church were we offer the doctor’s cure for our soul and the healing power of God’s word. But too often we have churches that are in retirement mode and not rescuing the perishing. If a church only wants to focus on its internal comforts, then they should take down its sign – even if it’s a fancy digital one. However, if a church has the heart of God then let the church be a hospital for the wounded and dying. Let’s have the church train up practicing spiritual doctors and ministerial nurses who can serve the hurting people who approach its doorstep. Let the church be the church of Jesus Christ who had compassion for the helpless crowds and who offered the cure for sin and death through His resurrection.
Today we begin a series on the church – the household of God. I invite you to turn to 1Timothy.
EXAMINE 1 Timothy 1 The Church
Why the Pastoral Letters
- Our purpose to preach the Pastoral letters (Timothy & Titus).
- God’s word is good food, which we need daily and desperately.
- Do you treat the Bible as a meal or a snack?
- Would you say you’re merely interested by biblical teaching or intoxicated with hearing God speak through the Scriptures and internalizing them?
- We need the word of God. Some Christians try to go days without personally reading the Bible, or even weeks without listening to the teaching of Scripture. And it shows. Our lives and our churches are anemic in complexion to what God desires for His church.
- What you need in your life’s peaks and valleys, in your family’s journey of twists and turns, in your marriage’s ebb and flow in love and respect, in your parenting perseverance, in your career’s challenges, in your medical diagnosis, and in any circumstance – you need God’s word. And so, we unashamedly teach and study, preach and proclaim the truth of God’s word at SPBC.
- God’s word is good food, which we need daily and desperately.
- Paul’s purpose for writing to Timothy
- 1 Timothy 3:14-15 “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”
- God’s commands to Christians and churches, especially in light of current false teaching.
Paul opens the letter noting his apostleship by the command of God and Jesus Christ (1Tim 1:1). Therefore, his teachings are not just good advice but divine authority for God’s people. This is important, for interpreting and applying the letter’s content.
2Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that you may be competent and equipped for every good work.”
- False Teaching at Ephesus
- Wrong doctrine (1Tim 1:3)
- Overemphasis on myths, genealogies, and speculation (1Tim 1:4)
- Shipwrecking faith and blaspheming with their teaching (1Tim 1:19-20)
- Immoral standards (contra 1Tim 3:1-16)
- Liars with seared consciences (1Tim 4:2)
- Forbidding marriage and certain foods (1Tim 4:3)
- Conceited teachers eager for controversy, quarrels, and division (1Tim 6:4-5; 2Tim 2:14-16, 22-26)
- Using things of God for material gain (1Tim 6:5-10)
- Saying the resurrection already happened (2Tim 2:18)
- Capturing weak/immature believers with their teaching (2Tim 3:6)
- Teaching to please people rather than God (2Tim 4:3)
- God’s counsel to a significant but struggling church with a younger pastor.
- Paul met Timothy in Lystra (Acts 16:1). Timothy travels with Paul for missionary journeys and planting churches (cf Corinth & Thessalonica). Later, Paul leaves Timothy in Ephesus to shepherd the people and correct false teaching in the city.
- Timothy was younger than Paul, perhaps late 20’s or early 30’s.
- Ephesus was a significant church in the NT (Acts 19-20). The letter Paul writes to Ephesians bears strong theology and little corrective conflicts going on as other churches. Even into the second century the church had strong faith with works and not tolerating evil practices (Rev 2:1-3). Yet, their struggle was growing apathy towards its first love of Christ – allowing their faith to grow stale (Rev 2:4-5).
- For SPBC
- Likewise, we are a significant but struggling church.
- Center of triangle of influence with Annapolis, Baltimore, DC.
- 21146 affluence / Prime real estate on Benfield
- 60 years of tradition… but while we respect the past, we cannot revere it.
- Revitalization is tough. Since 2010, SPBC has tripled in size and then plateaued and then declined again, essentially having same current amount of people relocate from our transient area.
- Revitalization requires being a good steward of resources. We can maintain spending time, talent, and financial treasure in the same ways we have always done, or we can look to make more strategic investments to produce a ministry focus and hope for the future.
- Indeed, change in church is challenging, but closing the doors is even more difficult.
- Just finished a series on knowing the will of God and now we approach new topic about God’s church. The relationship between these series is not to be missed – we cannot uncover our potential or purpose without the help of God’s people.
- Church is to impact culture by recognizing Jesus as immortal king, requirement for salvation in Christ for all sinners, the contrast for the church to have a biblical worldview rather than worldly values, and the necessity for good works and serving the vulnerable of society (widows, orphans, poor). These issues are all addressed in Paul’s letters to Timothy.
- Likewise, we are a significant but struggling church.
- False Teaching at Ephesus
The church must protect truth (1Tim 1:1-11).
Paul’s opening exhortation to Timothy is two-fold:
- Remain in Ephesus.
Paul had invested at least three years of gospel ministry in Ephesus. Before he left gathered the elders and warned them about false teachers entering the church.“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among yourselves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night and day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:28-32
Reasons to stay…
1. There’s a people to protect. Pay attention to care for the flock, the people of God. In other words, the relationships you have are faithful and fruitful. There are people who need shepherds to stay and guard against foolish behavior and false beliefs. In all, if there are people still confirming your work then it may be worthwhile to stay.
2. There’s a call to continue. God the Spirit made you an overseer to care for His church, which he purchased with his own blood. God is the one who opens doors and called you to begin, and it will be Him who closes doors and calls you to leave. Reasons to leave will always abound, but the call to begin somewhere else can be unique. Waiting, perseverance, trusting, and hoping are features of our faith. In all, discerning to continue or begin elsewhere can only come from the call of God.
3. There’s a legacy to leave. As Paul left with tears, he was leaving God’s inheritance to a new generation of elders. If you have accomplished your work by raising up a new generation of leaders and disciple-makers, then your legacy is complete, and your call to leave or stay is in the providence of God.
- Protect the gospel.
Timothy is to guard against those teaching different doctrine. This presupposes there is a right doctrine, which there was very early – from Jesus’s life, ministry, resurrection, and ascension.
Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ DOCTRINE and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers”
Romans 16:17 “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the DOCTRINE that you have been taught; avoid them”
2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound DOCTRINE, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit up their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth”
Jude 1:3 “contend for THE FAITH that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Paul is warning against those who are not protecting the gospel. Instead, they are protecting their religious preferences based on human laws and traditions.
- Adding to God’s law. Paul references the addition to God’s word in devotion to myths, endless genealogies, which promote speculations (1Tim 1:4) and over-confident assertions (1Tim 1:7). When we add to God’s law to protect our religious preferences then we become arrogant in the place of God. We must seek to hold firm to the gospel while holding our preferences loosely, or we will not only deter others from the faith but perhaps deceive ourselves.
- Subtracting from God’s law. Paul lists sins that cannot be removed from the truth of God’s word. As much as we need the good news of forgiveness we need the bad news about our fallenness. So, Paul notes the proper use of the law to 1) reflect God’s holy goodness, 2) reveal our sinfulness and need for the gospel of grace.
- Lawless & disobedient… Have you ever disobeyed a law?
- Ungodly & sinners… Do you always make the right choice?
- Unholy and profane… Do you always honor God?
- Strike fathers & mothers… Have you dishonored your parents?
- Murderers… the act and attitude; anger or hate in heart is comparable to murder.
- Sexually immoral & homosexual… note the link together; all of us are sexual sinners and have boundary constraints, not just one category of people.
- Enslavers… using people and viewing others as obstacles rather than objects of God’s love.
- Liars… twisting truth or flat lies…
- Hell will be filled with thousands of politicians and pastors, and lots of others.
- Heaven will have those who have repented of sin and trusted in the grace of Jesus.
- Perjurers… making false oaths
- I believe the Lord opened this door…. But then, later doesn’t work out so God changed his mind. Hmm!?!
- I believe God wants me to ___ – sin?!? Never!!!
Paul contrasts false teachers with gospel teachers.
“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
- Love for people will lead you to speak truth; truth w/o love is critical & love w/o truth is corny
- Pure heart represents integrity; doing what you know honors God even if others say differently.
- Good conscience removes guilt and regret.
- Sincere faith represents a sweet confidence in the Lord.
- People learn what is true and false by our lifestyle.
- What are we dedicated in time, talent, and treasure?
- Our preferences determine our passions.
- Are you more passionate about your religious preferences or relationship with Christ?
- Wandering is a warning sign (1Tim 1:6).
- Are you ever content and satisfied in Christ or frequently longing for something else?
- Contentment doesn’t mean complacent, but it does result in maintaining roots to bloom and bear fruit where God places you. Too often Christians bounce around looking for the next trend, the next emotional buzz, the next promise of satisfaction… only to repeat process in a few months/years.
The church must promote grace (1Tim 1:12-17).
In light of false teachers who hid their shortfalls, Paul is honest about his sin. Paul was not afraid to face his failures because he knew the power of the gospel. He was able to view his life not just with regret but with redemption. Yes, Paul had regret but the redemption of Jesus overshadowed his sins, so that Christ might display perfect patience to others and magnifying the mercy of God.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1Tim 1:15)
- Without reservation, hesitation, or qualification, are you honest as a chief sinner and Christ is a great savior? Or do you try to hide your sin and promote your best self and accomplishments?
Many try to compare selves to others as if we were graded by a curve… but God only grades by cross.
- Blasphemer: to speak and stand against God. Interestingly, Paul thought he was speaking for God but he was standing against Jesus – who is God (Acts 9). We can blaspheme Jesus when we promote a functional universalism for all having faith in God without repentance of sin and trust in the Jesus who died on a bloody cross and then rose from the dead.
- Persecutor: Paul persecuted the church, and he had much regret for it. This was a pain for Paul, but he still spoke of it. Today, we can persecute God’s church directly and indirectly. We indirectly persecute the church when we see people without compassion, speak carelessly about others, and shut others out of our life.
- Insolent (ὑβριστής): pride that leads to anger and violence. The attitude is when things don’t go their way, they lash out and make others hurt. But Jesus softens us to pray for and love our enemies.
“formerly”… Christians are saved from sin and unto sanctification. We are changed by grace. We are made to grow in the newness of life God has called us toward.
- You have a testimony… let your pains have a purpose and promote the gospel not accomplishments.
- If Jesus saved Paul, He can save anyone… differing in politics, religion, lifestyle.
The church must prevent division (1TImoth 1:18-20).
Paul charged Timothy to protect truth, promote grace, and prevent division. He charged Timothy to “wage the good warfare” (1:18). Paul uses military terminology, describing a soldier at war in charging Timothy in his spiritual ministry.
In contrast, Paul lists his enemies: Hymenaeus and Alexander.
- Rejected faith and a good conscience, thus shipwrecked. Paul’s opponents were not deceived but made a conscious decision and deliberate choice to reject Christ. Often the case of those who reject Christ is not over mental intellectual reasons but moral objections; they don’t want to change their behavior or give up their sin lifestyle.
- Handed over to Satan by Paul. Paul calls them out in the church and disciplines them. Paul isn’t judging them eternally, but allowing their consequences to take them their natural drift. Paul’s hope for rebuke is that they learn not to blaspheme (1Tim 1:20) and they return to sound faith (Titus 1:13).
- Ongoing division with Hymenaeus false teaching spreading like gangrene (2Tim 2:17-19), and Alexander doing great harm to God’s people (2Tim 4:14).
If Paul were alive today, what kind of letter would he write to our church? To you? Paul wrote letters to churches to discipline them – either formatively or correctively.
- Formations: Grow in truth / Share testimony / Unity in church
Missions exist bc worship doesn’t…
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1Tim 1:17