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The Heart of a Healthy Church of Jesus

The Heart of a Healthy Church of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:39
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 1Tim 1.1-11 We are beginning our look into the Paul’s letter to Timothy, 1Timothy. Like the other letters in our Second Testament, it addresses a problem, and we should not be surprised about the problems, as we’ve just finished looking into Paul’s problem-solving letter to the Galatians. This problem again is FALSE TEACHERS, those who etch away, eat away, at the biblical foundation. I would suggest it’s near, if not, the core of threats to every church! I don’t say that because of some paranoia, I say that because it’s a repeated theme! I say that because when the Apostle Paul stopped in Ephesus on his 3rd Missionary Journey, he cautioned the Shepherd Elders, Acts 20.28-31, 28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert . . . Those who perpetually etch away at the biblical foundation often seek to add to the clear message of Scripture that salvation, a New Life, freedom from sin, sin which has been paid for by Jesus for ALL men, is received simply by God’s grace alone, simply through our faith alone, and singularly in Jesus alone! Scripture is repeatedly clear— Just like the Apostle Paul told the jailer in Philippi, Acts 16.31, when he cried out, “What must I do to be saved”? — NOT— what must someone due to me, but what must I DO? 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved . . . ” This is where New Life begins with your faith in Jesus, and there is much, much more! GOSPEL— BUT — that simple truth of the Good News of Jesus is continually attacked by many mistaken messages, even to this day! And, as we open this letter to Timothy, Paul’s not present to help Timothy with his work at Ephesus. Some background . . . Paul was in Ephesus 3 years — 53-56 A.D. (Acts 20.31). He was later imprisoned in Rome but apparently didn’t die there (Acts 28.30). Acts 25.26-27 and 26.31-32 point to Paul’s innocence in the eyes of the authorities. He also expected to be released (Phil. 1.23-25; 2.24; Phile. 22). Paul wanted badly to go to Spain to proclaim the Good News (Rom. 15.22-24, 28, and there is some evidence of such a trip from early non-biblical writings/First Clement). The information in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus cannot be fitted into the journeys in Acts. Therefore, a suggested sequence. After release from the Roman prison (spring 62), he returned to the East at least as far as Asia Minor, probably visiting a number of churches including Ephesus (spring-autumn 62). Upon the visit to Ephesus, Paul finds a confirmation of his predicted problems (Acts 20.28-30). He begins to set order within the church. From Ephesus he goes to Macedonia (late summer 62, stayed the winter 62/63 A.D. ). He saw that he might be delayed in getting back to Ephesus (1Tim. 3.14-15) and so he writes (autumn 62) a semi-private letter to encourage, 1 instruct, and authorize Timothy and the fellowship in Ephesus in Timothy’s task of establishing a healthy church. And, especially a solid church in the face of the attacks upon its biblical foundation! Timothy is an Apostolic representative, part of Paul’s missionary team, with particular responsibilities to assist in establishing a solid church in Ephesus (cf. Acts 17.14-15; 18.5; 19.22; 1Cor. 4.17; 16.10-11; 1Thess. 3.2). Thus we have before us virtually a manual for a healthy church written by the Apostle Paul! “Apostle” — a technical term for one who had seen the resurrected Christ, cf. Acts 1.21-22; 9.3-6, 15,27; 22.12-15; 1Cor. 9.1; Gal. 1.12. This is an authoritative letter! We should also note that while many commentators often call this letter as one of the “pastoral letters,” even noting Timothy as a “pastor,” yet, it’s not this way. Timothy is a key part in a missionary team, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and planting churches, churches then overseen by appointed Shepherds. And, that takes us to Paul’s first task in his letter, 1Tim 1.3-11, The Challenge of the Church— I. Salutation (1Tim 1.1-2) 1Tim 1.1-2, 1 Paul, an apostle of { Messiah } Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of { Messiah } Christ Jesus, who is our hope, Paul writes with authority, not simply cordiality. 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and { Messiah } Christ Jesus our Lord. This introduction shows us it’s not simply a “dear friend” letter. Paul’s first instructions are in 1Tim 1.3-20. There are three parts— one deals with Timothy’s responsibility, and ours by principle. The second deals with Timothy’s resource, and ours by principle. The third deals with the charge set before Timothy, and ours by principle. First, the responsibility— 1Tim 1.3-11, We are to guard the biblical foundation of the Good News of Jesus! We do this by not only teaching Scripture, we do this by opposing those who are false. II. We are to guard the truth against false teachers who do not produce godly character. (1Tim 1.3-11) A. We are to GUARD THE TRUTH by opposing false teachers. (1Tim 1.3-4) 1Tim 1.3-4, 3 As I urged you { this may read a little mild in English, maybe “urged strongly,” or “exhorted” you— I’m repeating in writing what we’ve already agreed! } upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. First, “the certain men”— in 1Tim 1.19-20, two men are named and put out of the fellowship. You mean a fellowship of Christians would separate from those who teach contrary from the biblical foundation of the fellowship? EXACTLY! Without a myriad of details we still have a description of these false teachings in Ephesus, and likely what’s mentioned in Paul’s letter to Titus, Titus 1.14. “Jewish myths”— for fanciful 2 tales, often amplified with genealogies and endless speculations which were part of some Rabbinic teaching. These speculations were often fanciful expansions done to embellish an account and usually to try to develop a deeper truth or develop devoutness or greater commitment to the spiritual life as if the Word of God alone could not do that. Timothy— issue cease and desist orders because of what this DOES and DOES NOT do! What it DOES is pursue speculations, robbing the clear Word of God and its direction that New Life is ours by our faith in Jesus! What it DOES NOT do is clearly stated in 1Tim 1.5, We are to GUARD THE TRUTH BY STAYING WITH THE AIM OF THE GOSPEL’s New Life of godly character! B. We are to guard the truth by staying with the aim of the Gospel of godly character because false teachers engage in ignorant disputes over profitless intellectual matters and do not properly use the Law. (1Tim 1.5-11) 1. We are to GUARD THE TRUTH BY STAYING WITH THE AIM OF THE GOSPEL of godly character. (1Tim 1.5) 5 But the goal of our instruction { for the “household” of God, the “administration of God” } is love { this is choosing for the highest good of another, even at cost to self! } from a pure heart { how do you have a “pure heart”? By being perfect— no! By being sinless— no! By owning a BIG Bible— no! It’s by being in step with the Holy Spirit! as a disciple of Jesus, pursuing him with our lives! } and a good conscience { Thinking biblically about yourself knowing through your faith Jesus freed you from sin to live for him! } and a sincere faith { No pretense, no hypocrisy, no lip-syncing Jesus— Life-syncing Jesus! } . One of the things to note here is that the Church of Jesus takes a stand about what it teaches and its direction. “Teaching” the Bible in the Church of Jesus isn’t “information dissemination,” listen if you want, take your pick of what’s taught, use it if you feel like it, do whatever you please. NO! “Teaching” the Bible in the Church of Jesus is to transform lives and to build Jesus’ Body according to the Word of God. The church is the “household of God” (1Tim 3.14-15), God’s house-order, His administration is necessary to achieve God’s goal! Guard your focus! We know from Acts 2.42, that central to the Church of Jesus is the clear teaching of the Word of God! Contrary to the Six-Flags Over Jesus approach, the Church of Jesus is committed to exposition of the Word of God — not pep talks, not hop scotch, for here in the Word of God is the soil from which Holy Spirit works in our lives— to nourish us, mature us, equip us! The Holy Spirit works the Word of God in the people of God for the glory of God in them and through them! The formula is not magic, but it’s missed and mangled by many! 2. We are to guard against false teachers who engage in ignorant disputes over profitless intellectual matters and who do not properly use the Law. (1Tim 1.6-11) a. False teachers engage in ignorant disputes over profitless intellectual matters. (1Tim 1.6-7) J.B. Phillips tells a story of a woman and her child who, some years ago, were traveling by train across the prairies in subzero weather. The woman kept on anxiously looking about her, worried about missing her stop. The conductor assured her that he would see her off the train at the right stop. A fellow traveler also tried to reassure her. “I travel this line frequently, 3 lady,” he said. “I know every station and whistle-stop. If the conductor forgets, I’ll make sure you get off at the right place.” Soon the traveler said, “Yours will be the next stop.” After a while the train came to a halt. There was no sign of the conductor. “This is where you get off, lady. I’ll help you out with your bags.” It was dark and snowing hard, and there was no one in sight. The fellow passenger assured the frightened woman, “They’ll have heard the train. They’ll be along in a minute. This has to be your stop.” He climbed back on board as the train pulled away. Several minutes later, the conductor came through the car. “Where’s the lady with the child?” he asked. “I helped her off at the last stop,” said the traveler. “That was her stop and you weren’t here.” “That was not a station!” cried the conductor. “We were held up by a signal. There are no houses for miles around.” The engineer stopped the train and backed it up. They found the woman and her child frozen to death. They were victims of false information. Phillips notes — People who teach false doctrine are as dangerous as that traveler. And people who listen to such teachers are in dire peril. Let’s remember the Word of God is about Eternal Truth for Eternal Life— it’s critically important! Paul lays out why our task of teaching truth and defending the Good News of God against false teachers is so important! 1Tim 1.6-11, 6 For some men, straying from these things { “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” which yields a life of “love.” } , have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 1Tim 1.7, it seems their vain thinking, which is perverting the Good News, finds its roots in selfish motives! We can see in 1Tim 4.3, they falsely prohibit marriage. In 1Tim 4.3, they also call for abstinence from certain foods. In 2Tim 2.18, they claim the resurrection has taken place. There also seems to be a pursuit of personal profit in their motives! I call them “The Hoop Teachers”— their message requires you to jump through their hoops to know you have God’s New Life! The are antithetical to the clear and simple message of the Word of God that is stated no better than by the Apostle John! 1John 5.11-13, 11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 4 Eternal life and Eternal security are ours by faith— not hoops! Paul says they don’t know what they’re talking about! The reason this is so important we’ll find when we come to 1Tim 3.15, 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support { “foundation” } of the truth. The character of the local church, the character of its leaders, is critical because the local church is God’s platform for equipping and maturing believers, and for proclaiming the Truth of Jesus! The mark of the Church of Jesus is sound teaching of the Truth God has deposited with them! We’ll see this “Sound Teaching” is to confront error, it’s a requirement of biblical elders, it’s what nurtures believers, it’s what proclaims the pure Good News of Jesus’ New Life by faith, it’s what builds godliness in our lives! Look back with me to 1Tim 1.8ff, Paul sets for us these false teachers’ incorrect use of the law by giving us— 1) the nature of the law, 2) the purpose of the law, and 3) the harmony of the law and the Good News of Jesus! First, 1Tim 1.8, the nature of the law, 8 But we know that the Law is good, { having just finished our study of Galatians we know the Law was a schoolmaster, a teacher, to keep God’s people from being consumed by the sinful world around them! It condemned sin and showed the need for seeking God’s Grace and Deliverance! This Law System was abolished at the Cross of Jesus! The veil to the Temple split open for Jesus opened the way to God through faith in his complete and perfect sacrifice for ALL sin! (Luke 23.45) In these “last days,” which began at Pentecost, God has begun to unfold the New Covenant, writing his Truth on the heart of those whose faith is in the Messiah Jesus! The Truth that Deliverance has come in the Good News of Jesus! “the Law is good,” } if one uses it lawfully, Second, the purpose of the law, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, These who disregard God, set themselves against God’s Word and will are characterized as “unholy and profane,” i.e., they treat God like dirt! The Law exposes this! They also treat others, even family, with disdain and disinterest, self-gratification, personal profit, and immoral pursuit! The Law exposes this! This, and more, is contrary with “sound teaching” or “sound doctrine”! The term translated “sound teaching / doctrine” is used 21 times in our Second Testament and 15 of them are in 5 these 3 letters Paul writes to Timothy and Titus who are establishing the Church of Jesus— which is built on sound teaching! Let’s also remember that all of this rebellion against God, and more, is redeemable because of the Grace of God given to all people, ALL PEOPLE, in the death of Jesus for ALL OUR SIN! And this grace we receive by our faith in Jesus giving us a New Life indwelt and set apart by the Holy Spirit eternally with God! This is the New Covenant unfolding! This is what we proclaim! Let’s add — do not mock, or hate, or fear sinners — the Word of God condemns their PRACTICE, not their PERSON — because God loves sinners — “for God so loved this world of sinners”! And what does this sound teaching do? It’s pure hearts, good consciences, and sincere faith producing loving followers of Jesus! And, what do “lovers following Jesus do”? They proclaim the Good News of Jesus to those who’ve missed the mark of what God has for them! What God has is— By Grace, through faith in Jesus! Third, the harmony of the law and the Good News of Jesus, as sin is exposed, so is the “glorious Good News of the blessed God” through which we are declared “righteous” before God! 11 according to the glorious { Good News } gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. The Apostle Paul knows that the reclamation of lives from sin, the renewal of hearts, habits, and homes is through the clear communication of this Apostolic Doctrine — “the glorious Good News of our Blessed God” which is brilliant in the face of our sin! Here is the first characteristic of the healthy church. The Spiritually Healthy Church guards the glorious Good News of the Word of God! Likewise, the spiritually healthy person is both grounded in and guards the clear message of Jesus! Teaching the Word of God is at the heart of every life, every home, every fellowship of faith! And, whether it’s in my life, your life, my home, your home, or this church— teaching isn’t endlessly wrangling— it’s about a clear instruction! That instruction is for Christlike Character, 1Tim 1.5, 5 . . . the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. The message we teach is the message of the most brilliant grace laid against the backdrop of our darkest sin. What a wonderful stewardship God has entrusted with us! The message we teach transforms both our lives, and any life, by faith in Jesus! This is why we’re here, for we are called to be the “pillar and support of the truth,” “the church of the living God”! 6 Surrounded by a sea of relativism, i.e., those who say there is no absolute truth— pressed by a sea of pluralism saying there are many ways to life— we too are called to stand firm in spiritual purity, not political correctness! Our challenge today is most similar to the challenge in Ephesus! People are confused by a multitude of conflicting voices pulling them in a multiplicity of directions! Churches today, Christian organizations today, have become so skilled in Christian-eze communication and religious activities that many fail to notice the spiritual stagnation, the disobedience of lives, families, and the infiltration of worldly culture and living! There is a desperate need for the clarifying Truth of the Word of God so the reality of New Life, new hope, real worth, and a clear direction can be found! The Challenge of the Church is to stand theologically firm proclaiming “the administration of God which is by faith”! That “faith” is in Jesus, who died for the sin of mankind, rose victorious over death, now reigns from the right hand of God, who will return in all his glory— King of kings and Lord of lords! He gives to all who place their faith in him New Life, forgiven and freed from the penalty of sin to life for him and with him forever— the Good News of God with which we have been entrusted! 7
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