1 Timothy 3
1 Timothy 1:12-20.
- Paul writing to Timothy regarding the church in Ephesus - the key issue needing addressing was that of false teaching: legalism and Gnosticism (mystical revelations). - The false teachers were not godless, they appeared very pious and super-spiritual upholding high standard but it was of human origin not from God.- Sought to impose righteousness from without - apply the law to Christians. But believers are already righteous and the law was not made for the righteous man but for the ungodly, for those opposed to the Gospel.- Those receiving the Gospel are made righteous by faith - the Glorious Gospel of Grace gives them the perfect righteousness of Jesus so that they are holy, blameless and without reproach before God.- Paul illustrates this principle of the power of the Gospel of grace using his own life as an example. [Read 1:12-20]
The power of the glorious Gospel of grace:
- The illustration par excellence! If God could save Paul He can save anyone!
- What he was: blasphemer, persecutor, violent aggressor, foremost (2x) of all sinners.
- This was Paul but he received mercy! Why? Because God decided to. [Deuteronomy 7:7,8 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you.] - Abundant grace (v.14) - God taking the initiative and bestowing His favour on man because He chose to.
- What Paul became: a faithful servant [1 Corinthians 4:2 it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.] - not what he was in himself but what God made him - “Christ Jesus strengthened me” human inability, Divine ability. We are called to Christ’s service but we are incapable of doing it in our own strength. To carry out His commission we must do so by His strength, relying solely on His strength not our own - required faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus alone. In Him not in ourselves.
- Jesus’ reason for coming: to save sinners! Paul draws great attention to this statement - it is faithful - worthy of complete and utter trust. It is true and sure and will not fail - therefore it deserves full and unreserved acceptance. - base your whole life and being on this statement! Jesus the Messiah, God’s anointed chosen One left heaven’s glory and entered this world! Praise God! He did not come primarily to heal, to be a good example, or to be a respected teacher - His prime purpose was to save sinners - not for the righteous but for the sinful He came. Praise His name! [Matthew 1:21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Luke 5:31,32 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 9:56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. John 12:47 for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.]
-Paul the great apostle? No, the foremost sinner! Is this false modesty? No, that’s how he considered himself - so does everyone who, like him, has had an insight into Jesus’ glory and holiness (cf. Isaiah ch.6)
- Not “I was a sinner..” but “I am...” - never lose sight of what we are in our own nature. Haven’t I been made a new creation? Yes, but that new life is Christ’s not mine - nothing to glory in [1 Corinthians 1:30,31 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”] The flesh is still with us (when I came back to Lord dramatic work of sanctification but as I go on in the LORD see how deeply ingrained sin is). The sinner remains a sinner even if forgiven; the past is always there as a stimulus to deeper penitence, humility and service, a safeguard against presumption. It is spiritually healthy to have a poor estimation of yourself and your worth [contrary to the currently popular false doctrine of "self-esteem" [cf. Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Luke 18:13,14 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people. Psalm 51:3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight,So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.] - to get on in the world you may need a healthy self esteem but to get on with God you need a poor one.
- Paul still saw himself as a sinner (places “I” last in sentence)[cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9,10 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle Eph 3:8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ] - that is why he received grace, he humbled himself. Self esteem exalts self and so precludes one receiving grace, prevents salvation! Utterly opposed to the Gospel! Only when we die to self will we receive grace, the resurrection life of Christ, that new nature that is so different to the old. Paul was nothing, all he had was God’s abundant grace [1 Corinthians 15:9,10 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.]
- We are in continual need of grace - hence must always humble ourselves and see ourselves as the chief of sinners. Sin abounds, but grace abounds even more! Hallelujah! (Rom 5:20). Grace abounds! Praise the Lord! The grace of our Lord is abundant. This is our only hope - His grace! We are utterly dependant upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We come to life in Him through faith, a life that is a life of love. Yet this faith and love which are essential characteristics of the Christian(Gal 2:20,21) life are found only in Jesus Christ. If He did not give them to us we would have no life, we would not have the ability to come to Him. It is all Jesus Christ from first to last! All glory be to Him alone! Do you lack faith? It is found in Jesus Christ! Do you lack love? It is found in Jesus Christ! Come to Him the Source (John 7:37-39; 6:68,69; Is 55:1-3; Ps 87:7).
- Paul saw himself as the worst, the most undeserving - worse than murderers and rapists, not against man but against Christ, persecutor of His Bride, violently opposed to the LORD of all! Yet mercy and grace was extended to him It is only by mercy that we are saved - we are all shut up in disobedience apart from mercy (cf. v.13; Rom 11:30-32). Christ saved Paul, the chief of sinners, in order to demonstrate the greatness of His mercy - if it could extend to one like Paul, it can extend to anyone - no one is beyond the reach of Christ’s mercy and patience.- therefore it can extend to anyone - no one is beyond God’s grace!
- What should be the response to this super-abundant grace? A life of service (v.12 cf. Rom 12:1,2) a living sacrifice, body given over totally to Jesus for Him to do with as He chooses.
- Eternal praise - Paul can’t mention the Glorious Gospel and the eternal life freely given to those who believe without bursting into praise of his wonderful God and Saviour (v.17) Because He has saved us by His grace, by His mercy, He alone is worthy of praise. There is no one like Him, who can even begin to compare with Him! Hallelujah! (Ex 18:11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; Ex 15:11 Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?). Salvation inspires praise. Who is like our God?! Eternal! Immortal! Invisible (cf. 6:15,16), King! (Rev 15:3 Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!) - ruling and reigning, sovereign, the only God! (John 5:44; 1 Tim 6:15; Jude 25) Hallelujah!All glory, all praise, all honour be to Him alone! (Rom 11:36).Church discipline:
- Paul comes down from his peon of praise back to the issue in hand: false teaching.
- “This command” refers back to (v.3&5) - the command to fight the good fight, commanding an end to the false teaching and to command love and faith.
- Paul didn’t "suggest" or "request," with authority he commanded and commissioned ("entrusted") Timothy - as an officer in God’s army. How little we see of this true apostolic appointment today - commissioning people to a specific task with an authority that comes from God! Paul had thus been commissioned himself - it gives an authority, an imperative, a responsibility and a reason for persevering to completion that is not present in other forms of appointment (based on a request, or our own initiative or some vague impression that we ought to be doing something). - the Lord setting men apart for His service (cf. Act 13:2).
- Timothy was "entrusted" with a charge - it was a responsibility entrusted, a stewardship to be responsibly and faithfully administered
- we will have to give account of what has been entrusted to us. Timothy’s commission, his task, was not man’s idea - it was a commission from God! The Lord had spoken! His task was revealed through prophecy (cf. 4:14). You can’t abdicate from this fight! God Himself has told him what he had to do. Woe to us if we ignore genuine personal prophecy, disregard God’s command and do something else!
- It is a good fight that we are in - we must fight it with all our resources - resources given us by God for the task to which He has personally appointed us. We are in a battle, all out war! - it requires discipline, training, courage, perseverance, tenacity, holding ground, determination, ruthlessness and aggressiveness in dealing with evil. We will experience attacks, suffer knocks, but we must not give up (cf. Eph 6:10-13; Mat 24:13). Through prophecies (God’s word to us) we fight the fight - they enable us to endure because we know we are doing God’s will, fulfilling His part for us in His battle strategy.
- A good soldier obeys without question the orders of his Commander.
- He was to fight the “good fight” - what was this fight? [cf. 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; Jude 3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.]
- We must fight to preserve the faith, the Gospel, the teaching of Jesus delivered, because it will be attacked and distorted by false teaching (all NT writers warn of it).
- Authoritatively forbid false teaching (cf. Tom’s statement) - from oversight, given prayerfully, out of concern for the spiritual well-being of the flock placed under their care lest they be led astray.
- What happens if you reject that instruction, guidance, discipline and correction - it is rebellion!
- You remove yourself from the covering provided by the authority God has put over you.
- What happens in a ship if you reject the guidance of a pilot? - end up on a reef! - it’s dangerous out there!
- You reject authority you suffer shipwreck!
- Paul suffered shipwreck 4x each time all was lost except the lives of those on board.
- It actually happens! Hymanaeus and Alexander were a case in point - Paul has no compunctions about naming those who are caught up in error. [Acts 19:33 Some of the crowd concluded it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. 2 Timothy 2:17,18 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.] Teaching error concerning the resurrection, Hymenaeus had destroyed the faith of some (cf. Matthew 18:6,7 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!)
- By apostolic authority Paul had delivered these false teachers to satan (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. ). This involved serious chastening even to the point, in some cases, of physical death!
- Hymenaeus was a pernicious teacher whose error spread like gangrene. It involved a spiritualization of the resurrection (including, doubtless, the judgment) - that there was no future resurrection of believers, that it had already taken place - it wasn’t actual, but a "resurrection of knowledge" Such spiritualizing away of events is typical of today’s liberal theologians. Strict and severe discipline should be exercised against such - but we allow such blasphemy to go on without church discipline (eg. Bill Rae) we say that everyone has the right to his own interpretation.
- Did Paul put a hex one them? No, they removed themselves from the church’s cover and so were open to satan’s attack - their protection was removed, they were delivered over to his devices.
- Not loss of salvation but severe consequences nonetheless (1 Cor 11:30-32; 3:10-15)- sickness even death (cf. Annanias and Saphira).
- Is it the same today? Could people be sick, even in danger of death because they’ve rebelled against the guidance of the authority God has put over them?
- It is a dangerous thing to do! Church discipline is little exercised these days - but when it is and rejected we are in treacherous waters!
- We must diligently guard faith and love and a good conscience (v.19 cf. V.5,14) - don’t be diverted from that goal!