1 Timothy 1:3-4 ~ "Remaining in Your Church"
Turn with me in your bibles this morning if you will, to 1 Timothy 1:3-4. The nature of our faith and God’s desire to work in our hearts through his word in order to strengthen our faith are foundational to understanding this passage this morning. Paul, in chapter 1 verse 3, writing to Timothy says “As I urged to you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship form God that is by faith.”
Let’s pray and ask God to help. Lord, we live in a time in which every idea is embraced and in which every different concept or every different proposition regarding what might be true is willingly celebrated even when those propositions of truth contradict each other. The spirit of our age, Father, seems to be one of pluralism or relativism in which we are in a not so subtle way actually striking down the very concept of truth by insisting that every person may believe what he wants to believe and may do what is right in his own eyes without any claim to any higher truth or any higher authority. Father, the celebration of this often baptised under term of “tolerance” is the new virtue of the day and age in which we live. Lord, as we encounter Paul’s instructions to Timothy it is a virtue which is not shared by your word. You have called your people to a life of faithfulness to scripture. So, we pray God, as we look at your word this morning that you would show us how to refuse incorrect teaching refuse incorrect doctrine, but to do so in a way that is loving yet firm. We pray God that you would open our eyes to see that this morning as we look at this passage. We ask that you would do that by your spirit in Christ’s name, Amen.
A medieval systematic theologian by the name of Thomas Aquinas once read the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s classic work entitled “Ethics” dealing with metaphysics, virtue and how we are to live our lives in light of the ultimate reality which is always around us. Thomas Aquinas wrote a commentary on this book of Aristotle’s and in the prologue he makes the statement “As the Philosopher says in the beginning of the Metaphysics (Bk. 1, Ch. 2, 982 a 18; St. Th.2, 41-42), it is the business of the wise man to order. The reason for this is that wisdom is the most powerful perfection of reason whose characteristic is to know order. Even if the sensitive powers know some things absolutely, nevertheless to know the order of one thing to another is exclusively the work of intellect or reason. Now a twofold order is found in things. One kind is that of parts of a totality, that is, a group, among themselves, as the parts of a house are mutually ordered to each other. The second order is that of things to an end. This order is of greater importance than the first.” What Thomas Aquinas is saying there reflecting on Aristotle’s work is that the wise man’s job, the thing that he is going to pursue, the thing that he is going to do is he is going to order things. He is not using that in the sense of command as in a military General ordering his subordinates, but in the sense of trying to understand the relationship and the priority or the value of one thing in relation to another thing. He says “this is the wise man’s job,” to use his intellect and his reason to appreciate and to discern and to correctly identify the order or the value of one thing to another. He gives two illustrations there in that comment. He says the first way that we do this is we naturally want to order things amongst themselves. He uses the illustration of a house. Obviously the roof goes on top and the foundation goes on the bottom. Whoa, to that man who would confuse those two and build their house on a roof and overlay the whole thing with a slab of concrete. It will be awfully topsy turvey; heavy up top and light on the bottom and susceptible to being knocked over in high winds. He says there is a proper order in the way that we relate one object to another, but then he says there is another order; a more important order, the relation of things to their ultimate end. That is, their ultimate goal and what their purpose is. The reason I read that comment to you is because Aquinas is reflecting on essentially all of the proverbs and all of the wisdom literature in the Old Testament. He is saying there is a right path to walk and it requires us to discriminate; another word which is used in our present day which gets short shrift. What I mean by the word discriminate is that we would look upon things and evaluate their worth or their value in our life from the basis of wisdom, namely from the basis of scripture. Wise men can’t live any other way. If we do not draw distinctions we will make reckless mistakes. There is no greater mistake; there is nothing more reckless than permitting within the house of God teaching which does not consist in the proclamation of the word of God. In fact, that is exactly what Paul is getting at here. If the church is a house we understand that at any house there is an appropriate order and the appropriate order for the house of God is that the word of God is to be preached without any competitor being given any place to contend; not that any could. We as Christians are deceived if we waste our time with the competitors. Look at what Paul says in 1 Timothy chapter 1:3, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” When exactly did Paul give this command to Timothy? It is really hard to know the exact historical circumstances. Most likely this command may have come following his first imprisonment, it may have been sometime in between imprisonments, it could have come before. The book of Acts tells us that the Apostle Paul planted a church in Ephesus and that there were elders or pastors that were appointed to the ministry there. Additionally, in Acts chapter 20, Paul as he is making his way to celebrate Passover with the church in Jerusalem sees fit to stop near Ephesus. He meets up with the Ephesian elders and pastors in the city of Miletus and he tells them “I commend you to the word of God’s grace.” He emphasises that; “you need the scriptures.” But, before he says that he offers this solemn sobering warning “I know that from among your own selves,” talking to the pastors “will arise men saying twisted, distorted things seeking to draw the disciples away after themselves and not to lift high the name of Jesus Christ that all may follow after our Lord.” How comforting; he is saying he that some of the pastors are wolves. Undoubtedly it would have caused these elders hearing that admonition and the warning of the apostle Paul to begin looking at each other with a very called for suspicion. What is the foundation of our teaching? What is the foundation of Christianity? What is the authority for the things that we believe and how we are to live our lives? Clearly, at some point following that admonition some of these guys thought that their time was shortened so they jumped on their opportunity while they had it and they began to teach things which were not consistent with the scriptures. Paul tells Timothy to go to Ephesus and stay put. He told him that at some point as he is headed into Macedonia and now Timothy is there and he writes him a letter saying that just as he told Timothy the first time already, he is going to tell him a second time, stay in Ephesus!. Now, why would Paul need to encourage Timothy to stay there? There are two reasons which present themselves to my mind. Reason #1 – Wistfulness. Reason #2 – Weariness. Both of these can take a toll on the leader’s life.
Wistfulness undoubtedly Timothy is sitting there in Ephesus with Paul in Macedonia and depending on the time of year it is and the prevailing winds he could probably, if he jumped on a ship, shoot across the Aegean Sea and reconnect with the Apostle Paul in 3 days to a week to reconnect with Paul and all the boys. He could be back with all the guys who agree what the biblical truth is and all love Jesus Christ and are passionate for lifting high His name. Or, he could go east where his mom and his grandmother are. If you recall from the book of Acts chapter 14, Paul is most likely from the community of Lystra. If he puts on his walking shoes and starts walking in a three to seven day journey he could be in Lystra. He can have his mom’s homemade pumpkin pie (chuckles from the congregation), he can be there to celebrate Thanksgiving and have his mom and his grandmother by his side. He could go east and see his family or he can go west and see his boys. There is a certain lull because staying here at Ephesus requires a chore that needs to be done. That chore is not an easy one. All of the alternatives that he could have gone after were nice easy comforting alternatives.
This brings me to the second reason why Paul probably wanted to skedaddle; weariness. This past week I was meeting with my brothers at Sunnybrae, my fellow pastors. Bruce Christiansen who is the individual that is responsible for pastoral care and brings to us the report of the different pastors who are, even as recently as last Sunday, resigning their different positions in different churches around the province. He shared with us struggles and difficulties that these men are facing in their respective locations. He shared the account of one particular individual who is in a church that has begun to embrace a contrary doctrine. In this particular church a number of individuals had journeyed south to a church in America that taught that you cannot be sure of God’s presence in your life unless you have supernatural and amazing things happening all around you such as gold dust falling from the ceilings and money showing up supernaturally in your bank account. They begin to emphasis this type of understanding of God’s presence and they bring this theology back to their church and they begin to hammer it home. We were told last week that this has been going on for 9 years. For 9 years this dear brother has struggled with individuals in this church that are seeking to divide his church with this incorrect doctrine. He resigned not because of any moral failure on his part, not because he has done anything wrong, not because he had been harsh or uncharitable in responding to these individuals, but simply because he was tired of it. So, when we consider Timothy it is easy to see why Paul says to Timothy “You have got to stay.” The church must have the pure word of God and we have got some false teaching and you HAVE to stay in order to put a stop to it. This leads us to the realization that within the Christian life there are some things we have to do which are simply matters of duty. They go against what we would rather for ourselves. They go against the things that we would want to chase after, but at the end of the day Paul makes the statement to Timothy and it leads us to the inescapable conclusion that whenever we are pondering our own path we can never do so without consideration for the greater good of the church. We no longer belong to ourselves, we were bought with a price, and we belong to him who for our sakes was crucified. His love is firmly placed not only upon us as individuals but upon us as a family, as a church. In 1 John is says “If anyone says he loves the Father, but does not love his own brother he is neither known the Father or seen him.” Within our fellowship here guys, we have to love each other. We have to take into consideration, as we make our decisions about where we would go and how we would live, the impact that it makes on each other here at First Baptist. Paul says you have got to stay because you have to charge certain individuals not to teach any different doctrine. This word “charge,” used in the ESV is a military order/command. He is saying in the sense that you are a leader, in the same way that there is a general in an army that would give commands to his troops, he tells Timothy he is a leader there in the church in Ephesus and he, under the apostolic direction of the apostle Paul, is to order and command these men not to teach any different doctrine in the same way that a general would give orders to his army on the field of battle. The Greek word there is heterodedaskalew. It is two words: didasko and heteros. Didasko means “to teach.” We get our word didache or doctrine from this word. Then heteros meaning “of another kind.” We get our English word hetero from this particular word. It is interesting because we don’t know exactly what it is that they are teaching, but we know that they are teaching something that is different than the body of doctrine that the apostles have laid down and what is eventually going to be codified as our New Testament. They were teaching some different doctrine. The Greek word “heresy” is a readily available word, but Paul doesn’t use that word even though he could have. The idea here is that there are individuals in Ephesus, in this church who are teaching that does not consist with the doctrine of Jesus Christ. It is something different. We would all really like at this moment for Paul to get really specific and tell us exactly what it is. We know from the rest of the New Testament that there are various options that we can consider such as Gnosticism. The idea that it doesn’t really matter what we do in our bodies, that matter is somehow evil and all we really need in order to be saved and go to heaven is an intellectual sort of spiritual understanding of who Jesus is and to understand that Jesus was just sort of a spiritual person and not an actual flesh and blood human being that died on an actual hard wood cross to forgive us of our sins. There is that idea. We could look to the book of Galatians and we could consider the struggle that the apostle Paul had with the churches in the region of Galatia who were being influenced and persuaded by Judaizers (Jewish individuals who come into churches pretending to be Christian, but really seeking to draw Christians into the Jewish faith) saying Jesus is good, but really circumcision is better and in fact necessary and if you are not circumcised you are not saved. So, in that way they were corrupting the gospel of Jesus as well. Whether you have Gnosticism which denies the reality of Christ having come in the flesh or whether you have Judaizers who say the flesh is so important that you have to be circumcised if you want to go to heaven, we are not sure whether either of these two are what Paul is addressing when he speaks to Timothy here in Ephesus because he doesn’t say. Here is what he does say, you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine and in verse 4 “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” As we look at verse 4 Paul says don’t teach it, don’t allow it to be taught, it shouldn’t be mentioned anymore, it shouldn’t be discussed anymore. The teaching, the proclamation of this different doctrine should be silenced. He also says those individuals who have heard it and indeed even those individuals who are teaching it, their lifestyles must not reflect the influence of this teaching. All theology, all teaching, all scripture and what we believe influences how we behave. Belief influences behavior and Paul’s statement is the teaching which provides the belief has to be stopped and nobody should be living in accordance with this teaching. His exact expression here is “to devote themselves to it,” that is how they would live their lives, how they would order their day to day affairs. Again, we are wondering what exactly is it. Yet, the apostle Paul does not say. We know that these teachers reside within the eldership in Ephesus. We know this because Paul in Acts chapter 20 warned them that from within that group would come these guys speaking twisted things. We know based on what Paul says in Acts chapter 20 that the goal of their teaching is not to exalt high the name of Jesus, not to strengthen faith in Christ in his word and what he says, rather the goal is to draw away the disciples after themselves. We know from the book of Timothy that these guys teaching this stuff were in the most respected positions of teaching and instruction within the church and they were in fact elders. How do we know this? There are 4 reasons. In verse 7 the statement is made that these individuals presume to be teachers of the law. So, they are obviously quoting Old Testament scripture there; Paul uses this word “teacher.” Elsewhere in the book of Timothy in chapter 3:2 he is talking about people in the office of elder, the office of overseer, and he says that they have to be teachers. Later on in 1 Timothy 5:17 Paul is discussing the nature of remuneration for pastors/elders within the church and he says to let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching. Paul identifies these individuals as teachers and within the context of 1 Timothy we understand that it is in his mind, as he writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these teachers occupy positions of authority within the church. The second reason is that Paul mentions excommunicating specifically two guys, Hymenaeus and Alexander. Later on in the text he makes that statement that he had to expel these two guys. The apostle Paul himself as an apostle had to get involved in removing these two guys from positions of authority and leadership within the church. He had to cast them out, to excommunicate them, to lead the church into doing church discipline. If these guys are low level no-name guys that are raising their hands and making weird comments in the back of the Sunday school class the apostle Paul would not have had to of got involved directly. The fact that the apostle Paul did get involved directly indicates that these were individuals who had already gained influence, had already developed a following and were already persuading members of the church towards their own erroneous teaching. The third example is in 1 Timothy chapter 3. We mentioned this 2 weeks ago, Paul gives unbelievably specific details regarding the qualifications and the characteristics of what it means to be an elder and who is able to be an elder or an over-seer. We see hear from this first section “dear Timothy charge these persons not to teach stuff.” Then as he develops the flow of the letter he goes in and he spends an entire chapter talking about the characteristics and the qualifications of who could be a pastor. This would lead us to believe that he is trying to give ammo so to speak to Timothy to be able to say to the church as a whole, we have got some guys here who don’t meet the basic qualifications. Not only are they teaching stuff that is not consistent with Paul’s teaching, but their lives just don’t measure up. Their characteristics don’t measure up. This further underlines the notion that belief always drives behavior. They are believing the wrong things. Even though we don’t know exactly what it was that they were believing it was being reflected in their lifestyle. The fourth item is Paul stressed that sinning elders were to be publicly disciplined. In chapter 5:19-22 Paul talks about the fact that when it comes time to do discipline against an elder “don’t show any partiality against an elder. In other words, just because he is an elder doesn’t mean that he is entitled to some sort of extra special privileges and every charge must be established by two or three witnesses. This is the process that is laid out in Matthew chapter 18 by our savior himself. In other words, they are to be subject to the same sort of process of adjudication that every member in the church is to be subject to. Why would he feel the need to say that unless he is inferring that Timothy is about to be doing church discipline on church elders within your own church. Even though we don’t know exactly what it is that they are teaching, we know that they were standing in the pulpit on Sunday morning. That is a sobering thing for us. Just in terms of considering this we recognize it is an act not of preference, but of necessity to have a plurality of elders, to have multiple men holding the office of pastor together, not in a hierarchical fashion, but as equals though they may differ in gifts and abilities and in the ability to preach; nevertheless they hold the office together as equals for the purpose of holding each other accountable to not straying and not going off the tracks. Paul’s statement here is “I urged you when I was going to Macedonia; remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” Here is what we know, we don’t know exactly what it is that they are teaching, but we know that they are appealing to really old texts in order to establish the credibility and the authority of what they are teaching. He says not to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Myths, the Greek word mythos, is found all throughout the ancient near eastern literature. It is very common for societies to come up with these fanciful fictitious stories of how the world began and how exactly it came into existence. In order to justify their claim to knowledge they would appeal to an oral tradition that had been handed down from father to son to grandson to great-grandson so-on and so-forth, going all the way back to the beginning. They would put forth these myths and ideas of how the world actually is and how it actually came into existence and in order to prove their claim to this knowledge they would then go through this long protracted list of genealogies and show how they themselves are the great-grandson of the person who came up with the non-sense in the first place. Paul’s statement is “none of that matters.” Clearly you can be in a long line with a very old tradition and a very ancient history behind you and be just as wrong as the next guy. Being old doesn’t mean you are right; that is what Paul is saying to Timothy, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies which promote speculation. Here is really the driving issue for us; this word speculation essentially means one of two ideas: questioning, confusion as well as putting forth hypothesis and conjecture to sort of reconcile tensions. Based in the meaning of this word we can gather that whatever it was that these false teachers were teaching the fruit that it was producing within the congregation of the church at Ephesus was that they were more confused and more unsure and more uncertain about the meaning of these things and what the right path forward would be; how God would have us to go. Being introduced to more and more uncertainty and theological and doctrinal ambiguity. They obviously need to step in and fill that void somehow. They obviously need to come up with some idea of how we are to live even though we don’t really know the truth of things from the beginning. So they began to substitute their own ideas and they began to speculate. I was particularly struck by that as I was reading a relatively new book and the first volume of what the author plans to be a three volume piece called “The Making of American Liberal Theology.” The author Gary Dorrien is basically tracing the last 400 years and the rise of liberal theology. Now, before you start to think you know what I am getting at, I am not talking about a political party. It is not about the liberals or the conservatives. There is a unique movement within Christianity known as liberal theology, but I am not entirely sure how unique it is anymore. I used to be under the impression that it was something that had sprung up in the past 200-300 years, but then as I began to dig into the word “speculation,” it seems to me that this has been one of Satan’s tricks from the very beginning. You see if the church has the truth and the church knows how to live in obedience to the truth the church is a very dangerous thing to the enemy. It isn’t that people that walk in off the street on tell the church worshiping Satan is better than Jesus, of course when the church hears that you all scoff and chuckle as that is ridiculous. You wouldn’t seriously be influenced or persuaded or enticed by the notion that rather than perusing light we should chase after darkness. That kind of bluntness is never going to work on God’s people. That kind of straight forward direction from Satan is just never going to fly. So, Satan employs a different trick, “Jesus is great and you guys are wonderful. You are doing a great job following the Lord. You have got it 99% right, but let me introduce to you this one little thing that you need to know in order to be 100% right.” The best counterfeit looks as much like the real thing as it possibly can. This is how Satan has operated, this is clearly how he was operating here at the church in Ephesus and this is how he has been operating throughout time. You notice that word “speculation,” reading this book by Gary Dorrien on the making of American liberal theology he says that there are several characteristics which are always true of liberal theologians.
First, their religion is not based on external authority. You see, you and I, if we are going to understand what the foundation of our faith is and what it is that we base all of our decision making off of we worship not our own personal conjecture or reasoning of what we think is right. There is no relativism within the gospel of Jesus Christ; there is no pluralism within the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was Peter himself who said there is no other name given under heaven whereby men might be saved. There is only one and he basis it upon Jesus’ teaching and the word of God alone. That is exactly where Peter appeals to for his authority. Whereas, within liberal theology they do not hold to any external authority apart from themselves. Gary Dorrien says that the idea of liberal theology is that Christian theology can be both genuinely Christian without being based upon any source material. Since the 18th century liberal Christian thinkers have argued that religion should be both modern and progressive. This means that Christianity should be interpreted from the standpoint of modern experience; we understand Jesus based upon how we perceive him and how we experience him in ourselves. Again, not an external authority, but an internal subjective understanding.
Second, truth is capable of being known only through changing symbols and forms. Horace Bushnell, a Congregationalist minister from New England lived from 1802-1876 is considered by many to be the father of American liberal theology. He argued that all our difficulties and controversies regarding the truths of revelation are caused by a basic failure to face up to what is known about the clothing of truths in signs and analogies. He suggested that “almost universal sin infests the reasoning of mankind concerning moral and spiritual subjects; therefore, we are not capable of knowing with any certainty what it is that the bible is saying.” Now, there is some verbiage there that I will unpack for you. He starts by saying as part of another quote that this book has all kinds of mistakes and problems. He goes on to say that we can still have spiritual truth even with a flawed book because spiritual truth does not have to be conveyed to us in certainties, but it comes to us in the form of signs and symbols. Those signs and symbols themselves can be abstract and shifting and yet we can be certain of the truth that those symbols portray to us. Let me ask you a question: On Canada day, when you look at the Canadian flag flying high, what do you think? Most of you will say you think about Canada and that is fair enough. What do you think about the country of Canada when you think about Canada? Then begins all manner of different ideas. There it begins as one person tells of their love for Canada being the largest landmass in North America and another person may say that they love the fact that Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, yet another may say they like the fact that the National Anthem mentions God keeping our land strong and free. Every person has a different idea and that is the idea of a symbol. A symbol can speak in an abstract way to subjective ideas, but the symbol itself apart from one very concrete thing, never implies anything else that is concrete. That is the idea of a symbol. So, when Horace Bushnell says we can have knowledge of spiritual truth through subjective symbols and changing forms, it begs the question “how do you know that with any certainty?” Again, there is no external authority, it is subjective.
Third, theological controversies about langue not about truth – for example “I know it sounds like I am saying heresy, but that is just because you don’t understand the words I am saying.” That is essentially their message. Bushnell debated various doctrinal points with his adversaries claiming always that their disagreements were not about actual truth, but about the usage of language, “all my supposed heresies in reference to these great subjects are caused by the arrest of speculation and the disallowance of those constructive judgments or a priori arguments by which terms that are only analogies and mysteries that are most significant when taken only as symbols are made to affirm something wiser and more exact than what they express.” Anyone else here lost by that? That is the point! If we can’t state bluntly in a very straight forward way in terms that are easy to understand what we believe and not be called a heretic, then let’s say it in a convoluted way with a run on sentence where people have to try and decipher and decode what we are saying. Theological controversy is always about truth and one of the principals of truth is that it is clear and easy to be understood.
Fourth, historical accuracies of biblical facts and events are not crucial so long as we meet Jesus in the pages of scripture. These books which talk about Jesus don’t have to be accurate, they don’t have to be historical, and they don’t have to be factual. They talk about a Jesus and we need to meet him, but again, how do we meet him if they are not accurate? Subjectively we decide what we want to believe about Christ. All of this leads to speculation where I am not sure what to believe and so I take a little bit of this and a little bit of that and make my own doctrine. Paul says to Timothy “as I urged you previously, charge certain people not to teach any different doctrine which leads to speculation.” I know that I am putting myself directly on the map when I ask you the question “In your not quite 2 years with me as your pastor, do you find yourself more sure footed in your faith? Do you find yourself with a clearer and better understanding of the scriptures and of Jesus Christ and of what he is calling you to do as a person? Do you find yourself growing in your love of God’s word and in your love of each other as a result of the preaching that is being done from this pulpit? Or, do you find yourself walking away increasingly confused? Do you find yourself walking away increasingly saying he talked for 45 minutes but I am still not sure what the guy was trying to get at?” I hope and pray that you answer that question in a way that allows me to keep my job (chuckles from the congregation). But I wouldn’t presume that to be the case. Your edification means the world to Jesus. You coming to be like Christ means so much to Him that he died for you. Don’t get me wrong, I think you are great people but I am probably not going to die on a cross for you. Not the least of which because it wouldn’t do any good. But, the fact is that I don’t love you as much as Jesus. While I do enjoy the paycheck that I take home from this church on a week to week basis, the decision that you are called to be making as a church has nothing to do with whether or not there is food on my table and a roof over my head, but whether or not you as the people of God are coming face to face with the word of God on a weekly basis and being edified by its exposition and being continually conformed into the image of Christ. When considering your pastor it is important to disregard all of the normal things that we are called as brothers and sisters in Christ to have great regard for. There is no higher priority than the preaching of the word of God. When it comes to this job, though we may love the man in the pulpit, though we may care a great deal for him, we cannot have anything less than the word of Christ preached to us. It should not result in speculation, it should not result in doubt, it should not result in you going home and being confused so let me try to insert my own spirituality and my own ideas to try and make up for what I am not getting. That should not be the case here at First Baptist Church. What should be the case/fruit? Look at what Paul says, “Not to devote themselves to these things that promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” The 2007 and newer editions of the ESV offers an alternative translation of stewardship as “good order.” It is used Luke regarding the dishonest manager in which the master of the house calls the dishonest manager and say to give him an account of your stewardship or give him an account of his management over the household. It has to do with this idea that within a house there is a proper way that the affairs and the business of the house and the lives of those who call that place home. There is a proper way for things to be happening. There is an ordered structured way and in fact there is a Greek word okionomia that we get our modern English word economy from. This is the idea that within a society there is an exchange of goods and services and there is a structure to the way that those things flow. It’s the same idea here in God’s household. There is an exchange, there is a transaction, there is a spiritual business unfolding here and there is an order to the way that business is to unfold. It says there is an order from God that is by faith; meaning, that there is an order which is to be established here. It says that order is from God and you are to be receiving this from god and you are to be drawing closer to God and God in this order is to be drawing closer to you. Then the way that this operates is on the basis of faith and you believing. So, the preaching that needs to happen here at First Baptist Church and the preaching which you should be praying for when you pray for me is that when the word of God is exposed, when it is expounded upon, when we come to explain it, the preaching that we need is a clear discernible order within the word of God, these are the things that He is saying and you know definitively that it is from God and you understand intrinsically that by placing your faith and your hope in it you yourself are drawing nearer to God and God is coming nearer and closer to you. Not speculation, not confusion, not uncertainty. It should be clear-cut truth. The reason why that must be our response is because that was the payer of Christ this night before he was crucified in John chapter 17. Coming to the end of his earthly ministry Jesus praying to the Father says “I have given them the words that you gave me and they have received them and they have come to know in truth that I came from you.” He goes on to say “sanctify them in truth. Your word is truth.” This idea was so prevalent on his mind that the next day as he stands before Pontius Pilate, Pilate asks him "You’re a King? Jesus? You, a lowly carpenter from a redneck town, before me now beaten and bloodied; you’re a King? Jesus responds you say that I am a king, it is for this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth that everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Do you hear his voice church? Do you hear Jesus speaking to you through his word?
When we come to this book are we coming for information, academic facts just to grow smarter or are we coming to hear Christ speaking to our souls? Be careful how you answer that question. Jesus is say to Pilot “I am the truth,” and Pilot is asking rhetorically “what’s truth?” I am here to tell you this is the word of God and it is Jesus speaking to you.
Let’s bow in prayer. Father, we thank you so much for speaking to us through your son. In your word, by the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith in you and to grow us closer to you. Father, my prayer this morning is for myself. First and foremost God I pray that you would help the pastors here at First Baptist Church to lead this church in such a way that we are not constantly bedeviled by speculation and uncertainty and doubt and confusion. That we would know with clear, firm, crisp understanding exactly those things that you have said and spoken in your word. Father, I pray that you would strengthen our faith in you and that you would grow our confidence in you. I pray God that you would do that through your word as you have always intended. Lord, if there are ways in which I as a preacher am failing you, if there are ways Lord in which I could be more clear or more specific, if there are ways in which I could be more faithful in getting out of the way of your word and just letting you speak, I pray that you would show that to me Lord. Father, for those who are here this morning I pray that you would show to them that every man in this church, every man, woman, believer in you has a duty to this church to abide for the sake of ensuring that only the truth is proclaimed. Father, we pray that you would work among us and that you would convince us of this. We ask these things in Christ’s name, Amen.
The book of 1st Timothy is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). It was written to give encouragement and leadership guidelines to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul's "true child in the faith" at the church in Ephesus.