Sunday, August 9, 2009
I Timothy 1: 1-11
To understand I Timothy we must take a walk through the Book of Acts to see where and when Paul and Timothy first met and how they developed their relationship.
Acts 14 - Paul is an older man who was converted in Acts 9 and is now preaching the Gospel throughout the lands. Timothy is young was raised by his mother and grandmother in all likelihood. Paul hated Christ and the church and he got a gang of men to kill Christians and then he was converted on his way out to murder Christians.
Paul is a very passionate man - he was passionate about killing Christians and now he is passionate about Christ. His letters and his preaching are passionate and he writes his emotions throughout his letters. He is also imprisoned and writes many letters from prison known as the “prison epistles”: Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon.
Paul then, in Acts 14 travels to Lystra is where Paul meets Timothy… he heals a cripple. This helps authenticate Paul and his ministry. They start to worship Paul (They were Greeks) and he says NO! What would we do? Do we worship anyone? An athlete? Actor? Politian? TV preacher? Maybe we would do they same?
Paul offends the people in Lystra by calling their religion “vain” or useless. Do we call other religions worthless? Usually no b/c we’re scared. Acts 14:15 (“useless things” [NIV] or “vain things” [ESV])
Acts 14:19-23 Paul is stoned and put out of the city thinking he was dead.
He got beat thought to be dead and then goes back into the city to preach more! After this they then they go to Derbe and preach - then come back to Lystra and preach again. What would I do? What would you do? Go back and preach to those who just beat so badly they thought you were dead? Probably not. He teaches and reaches the lost (work of the church) and tells them they will go through tribulation (duh) and then appointed elders (leaders of the church) [this is why the elder candidates must come before the current elders…they must be interviewed by elders to be deemed ‘ready, on point with the vision of the church, lead the sheep, etc].
Acts 16 - Paul goes back to Lystra and meets Timothy who was converted probably in Acts 14 along with his mother and grandmother. Timothy’s dad is probably dead and mom is a Jew. Timothy was raised by 2 women and was in no doubt insecure and not too sure of himself.
Acts 16:2 - Timothy had a great reputation with the church. “Who’s the best here?” “Timothy!” Want to be a leader? Be in ministry? Start with your reputation! You don’t get called and then become active but you are active, get a reputation and then are called. When one says, “I don’t feel like I am needed here” or “I don’t have a ministry here” is someone looking to be asked rather than just jumping in…those who jump in are those who will build a reputation. Sitting idol is not a way to gain a reputation.
Acts 16:5 - Note the work and focus of the local church - “strengthened in the faith” - there were mentors and teaching and mutual building up of the believer (Acts 2) and there was evangelism “increased in number daily”. We are a church of both: Embracing the lost, Equipping the saints to Engage those around us.
Paul and Timothy are together for 15 years. He calls him “my son” 3 times. Great mentoring - who are you mentoring? Want to “do ministry”? Mentor someone so that they can “take your job”.
2 important things we see about Timothy:
1. He had a good reputation - “he was well spoken of by the brothers…”
2. Timothy is willing to be the #2 guy….we need many #2 guys. There are few “Pauls” of the church and every church needs those who will be willing to be #2 or #3 etc. We need many Timothy’s in the churches to lead and to do the ministries that the leadership calls us to do. We need to be willing to submit and then to train others … 2 Tim 2:2
Acts 20: 17-38: Paul is headed to Jerusalem and leaves the church after planting it and teaching for 3 years “through humility and tears”. The church needs leaders who lead through humility and tears. We don’t lead with arrogance and pride but with a humble heart and with emotion and passion. We see public teaching and small group teaching in homes (Acts 20:20). He does so while breaking the yoke of racism as he preaches to both Jew and Greek (Acts 20:21). He preaches the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). He warns them of false teachers (20:29-31). The biggest enemy is not outside but inside the church. Teaching false doctrine and destroying the church with petty arguments and personal wants. The things that kill a church are not on the ‘outside’ but those on the ‘inside’. That is why I will respond to sin issues, poor doctrine and not personal preference issues. There are too many churches and one will have your personal issues. Life is too short to argue that stuff so I won’t go there. He says the main thing to do is to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) not personal preferences and rule keeping. Paul leaves Ephesus and tells the elders to watch over the church….then writes to Timothy.
The list below is from Confessions of a Reformissional Rev. by Mark Driscoll pp79-80. Where are you in this list?
People who come into a church need to be assessed so that the church leaders can identify who they are and what they need.
• Horses are vibrant leaders who pull a lot of weight and run fast. Horses need to have character, sound doctrine, and agree with the vision of the church.
• Colts are emerging leaders who need training, testing, and opportunities to lead. If properly broken in, a colt can be developed into a horse.
• Fish are non-Christians who are spiritually lost and often not actively looking for God. Fish need a Christian friend to lovingly introduce them to Jesus and his church.
• Eagles are skilled leaders who are being developed within the church with the express kingdom purpose of leaving the proverbial nest and leading a ministry elsewhere, such as missions work and church planting.
• Mules are faithful workers who dependably and continually do whatever is asked of them in the church. Mules need to be thanked and protected from burnout.
• Cows are selfish people who wander from church to church, chewing up resources without ever giving back to the church until they kill it. A fence needs to be built around the church to keep the cows out.
• Squirrels are people who are generally liked because they are nice, but rarely do anything meaningful. Squirrels need to be put to work in the church.
• Stray Cats are socially peculiar loners who linger around the church. Stray Cats need a friend to help bring them into the church and an opportunity to serve other people so they can be meaningfully connected to the church.
• Rats are people who appear to have the potential to have a fruitful ministry, but they lack dependability, humility, or maturity. Rats need to be rebuked, and if they do not repent, they must be strategically ignored until they commit to no longer being a waste of time and effort.
• Sheep are people who have legitimate needs that require patient and loving support. Examples of sheep include widows, orphans, and those who are seriously ill or fighting drug addictions. Sheep need to be loved and served.
• Ducks are disgruntled people who continually quack about whatever they are unhappy about. Ducks need to stop quacking, or the pastor(s) must go duck hunting before the ducks drown out everyone and everything else in the church.
• Wolves are false teachers whom Satan sends into the church to devour sheep. Wolves need to be quickly identified, rebuked, and if they are unrepentant, they must be shot before their false teaching destroys people in the church.
• Snakes are evil people sent by the Serpent on a mission to destroy the church through anything from sexual sin to starting rumors. Leaders must stomp on the heads of snakes before they bite people and infect them with deadly venom.
This is very good list of you and me…many who want to “run the church” based on character traits that are both good and evil. The leadership’s job is to protect the church, the flock from the evil types.
I Tim 1-11
We’re going to look at this epistle from a vantage point of the leadership…how the pastor, elders and deacons are to oversee the flock. This doesn’t make us better or superior, it’s just an office that God called us to and quite frankly gives us more accountability later. Thus it’s a larger view of all that is going on in the church. Not all good…some bad. These are the responsibilities of the leadership of the church and for the church. Our responsibility is for the “soundness” and “health” of the church. This means we may have to make “hard” or “mean” decisions that without all the information some decisions may not make sense.
God is our Savior and Jesus is our hope. Interestingly Paul starts every book he wrote: “grace to you” and ends “grace from you”.
I Tim 1:1: We see here that Paul is an Apostle by command of Christ. How many times do we look at our ministry calls as “commands”? Most of the time we don’t take our calls (our place or ministry and service in the church) that seriously.
I Tim 1:2: we’re a church or a church family not a restaurant and so it’s not ‘have it your way’ and some come here, like what God is doing and then proceed to let folks know how you would ‘do church’ and try and fix us, rather than submitting to the leadership and vision God gave for this church. We’re a family and there are many passages that use family lingo (father, brother, sister etc and in families there are roles to play that are not optional (cut the lawn; take out the garbage) things have to be done.
“Grace”: Getting what we don’t deserve, God's unmerited favor . We deserve to be without hope and left to our own desires which leads to despair but God (Eph 2:1 and 2:4) when we were dead made us alive out of His love and grace toward us.
“Mercy”: Withholding from us what we deserve(punishment and judgment) or giving us, "drops as a gentle rain from heaven." [Kistemaker: NTC]
"Peace": What we know and understand to have with God as our Savior and our sovereign Lord...He is our peace. This peace comes from yhe grace and mercy we receive from Christ.
I Tim 1:3: Timothy, “remain at Ephesus so that you may charge…”. This is not a politically correct thing to do. Many say, “Oh give him/her a chance to …CHARGE to remove not just “slap the hand” and let it go. These folks are trying to destroy the church through false doctrine and they must be dealt with now. Notice that it is from inside the church not from outside. It’s not the Gestapo running in here with machine guns blazing. That enemy is easy to spot. The insidious enemy is the one that pretends to be on your side and be your friend and then they pounce.
I Tim 1:4: Devote to myths…we don’t know the answer so we make it up or “help God along” by lying.
I Tim 1:4: endless genealogies…the Mormons. Our dead grandparents can't help us and we can't help them (Heb 9:27).
And all they do is create speculation and no hope; luck; what ‘ifs’; later in the letter we will see specific issues at Ephesus which are very similar to here in the upstate.
We will see that knowing a little of the Bible and making doctrine on that little knowledge can lead to heresy that the can lead people to hell not heaven. Some spend so much time on secondary issues that they lose sight of the mission of the church – seek and save the lost and make disciples – so we argue over music and carpet or teach “the wrong use of the law” (v8) and entrap people in legalism and not the freedom that Christ bought us on the cross. So our charge as leaders is to NOT allow this sin to take place so we can concentrate on the mission of the church. I won’t fight over music or carpet that has been decided by the leadership. Please don’t come and then tell us how to do it. It will KILL a church and won’t feed a sole. This may sound “mean” but it could save the church if we practice what Paul advocates here.
I Tim 1:5: All this is born out of love for the sheep. Love will care about the doctrine of the saints, the soul of the lost and character and practice of the body. Not to love is to care more about carpet, being right and self than others. Love will be tough at times but not out of meanness but real love.
I Tim 1:6: So why is Paul so upset? First his “prophecy” from Acts 20:29-31 are coming true. He needed the elders including Timothy to watch over the flock and he warned them but they were weak leaders and probably didn’t want to offend anyone and now we have a doctrinal mess.
They are now into “vain discussion” (ESV) or “meaningless talk” (NIV). They are now teaching/arguing about carpet color and even worse, they are teaching heresy regarding Christ. As leaders Paul is telling us to recognize this “vain talk” and to stomp it out. Nothing will kill a church faster than this. We need to talk about Jesus not secondary issues. We make secondary issues into primary issues and Paul tells us it’s “meaningless talk”.
I Tim 1:7: Note the difference here from 1:1 Paul is commanded to do something. It isn’t about what he likes to do but what God commands him to do. Here the bad guys “desire” to be teachers. Read James 3:1 to see about being a teacher…and they desired to be a teacher.
Teachers of what? THE LAW! Paul is gotta be going crazy! He was with them for 3 years and taught grace and grace alone and now they way to teach the law! This is not a new thing or an easy thing to overcome as so many want to teach law instead of grace. Paul wrote an entire book on this called Galatians. In reality the entire Bible is about God’s grace…we just don’t get it.
I Tim 1:7: They’re confident HERECTICS and they think they know Christ or His way and they don’t. They’re the ones who call me or email Monday AM telling me about the carpet color. They’re confident but wrong. It’s about being correct, not fighting for the lost but fighting for the carpet. They steal all the energy from the church and take us off mission as we fight about the carpet or they’re off topic in doctrine.
I Tim 1:8: The law is good when used properly. It is the improper use of the law that is the problem. How do we use it properly? Like any tool – use a screwdriver to tighten a screw good….to use as a chisel – bad. The law is used to drive non-believers to Christ (the goal, standard of perfection) and it is NOT a standard for the believer as Christ is our righteousness not the law, but for us it’s a reality check for our sin. Thus we need Christ which gives us love for others – back to verse 5. Sound doctrine without love is legalism: “do this and don’t do that” and this love is based on performance. Love without sound doctrine is liberalism and heresy. False teachers care about what you do and don’t do…keeping a list. Romans 4:13-15 and Romans 5:18-21. It tells us we stink…that we’re really bad. The law exposes our sin…this is a GOOD and a useful use.
I Tim 1:9-10: what were they teaching? Not the Gospel. The Gospel is for these folks (us) and no one can keep the law. Its not about what you do but who you love.
I Tim 1:11: The Gospel is what changes people and converts them. Only teach the Gospel, that is what is entrusted to you and me. This is what we must ensure as leaders. This is what Paul is telling Timothy and the elders to do…teach and only teach the Gospel. Not what you can do for Jesus but what He did for you.