The theme which runs through these letters to Timothy are about being faithful and not quitting. Remember, ‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him must believe that He is and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11; 6)
Throughout the 11th chapter of Hebrews we read of men and women commended for their faithfulness. The more faithful we become, the more responsibilities God can give us in the ongoing work of building His Kingdom. Building His Kingdom involves two areas: carrying out the Great Commission to the lost; and building up believers, making disciples. It requires we see ourselves as stewards, managers of God’s resources, not owners of them. We are to invest money and time. Of these two, time is the more valuable resource because when it is gone it is gone. You can usually find or get more money. So our situation is like the parable of the stewards told by Jesus which involved the investing by those stewards on behalf of their master. (Luke 19) It is interesting the stewards were rewarded on the basis of how they invested there time and money in the serving of their master. When you invest your time, money and spiritual gifts in God’s ministry, the more faithful you are the more responsibility you are given and the more treasure you store up in heaven. Being motivated by reward is a Biblical principle. We are called to ‘fishers of men’. But I fear we have become keepers of aquariums.’
This study is to equip us and show us how to be more faithful to the Lord, to His Word, and to His task which He has given us and equipped us to perform.
Timothy is a young man in a church founded by Paul. Imagine being the preacher who replaced Paul! Timothy is also in a difficult city, Ephesus. It is an affluent, materialistic city. It is a city known for its sexual immorality with its worship of the goddess, Diana. Her lascivious statutes and images were seen throughout the city. It was like pornographic displays used to incite sexual lust. We will discover Timothy was fearful, easily discouraged and in poor health. God likes to use the unlikely, doesn’t He?
Know this truth and be prepared: When God offers you spiritual opportunities you will attract Satanic obstacles. Paul defines three responsibilities in the first chapter which were important then in a city where false doctrine was gaining foothold which apply to us this day as we face the same battles Timothy and the church did.
Here are the three responsibilities of the Church and us believers:
- Teach sound doctrine.
- Proclaim the Gospel.
- Defend the faith.
False doctrine is the opposite of sound doctrine and comes from false teachers who were leading the church astray. Sound doctrine creates sincere, true faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10: 13 These false false teachers raised questions without answers casting doubt on the reliability of God’s Word. Doubt is the back door in which temptation sneaks into our lives.
Sound doctrine builds up the believer and therefore the church. Paul calls this ‘godly edification which is in faith.’ Sound doctrine creates true faith from which a good conscience is developed, which goes with a pure heart where the love of God is shed abroad. The Word of God is called the “incorruptible seed” by which we are born again. In the parable of the Seed and Sower (Luke 8), we read of four types of soil which represent four types of heart. The seed fell on the wayside and was trampled by the foot traffic and the birds came and took it away. It also fell on the soil which had a stone beneath it and could not take root and withered away in the sun. It also fell among the thorns and thistles and was crowded out. The fourth soil was good soil where it produced a much fruit. The wayside is the broad way which has conformed our thinking and created a hardened heart. Sound doctrine keeps us on the strait and narrow way. The stone represented that area of one’s life we did not want to give up our sin and represented a shallow heart, one that was not receiving the engrafted word which is able to save your soul. The third soil represented a crowded heart, crowded out by the love of the things of the world. Our minds were divided, thus double minded. Sound doctrine creates a good conscience by clearing our consciences. (Hebrews 9:13&14 tell us our conscience has been purged by the blood so we can serve the Living God, not dead works.) The result is good soil, love from a pure heart working with a clear conscience which come from a sincere faith created by sound doctrine. Remember this: Agape Love is not an emotion or a chemical reaction to someone, love is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22&23 tells us ‘ the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.’
Sound doctrine not only creates love from a pure heart, it also creates a good conscience. Man is the only creation of God which has a conscience. Our conscience can be described as an “inner judge”. The conscience accuses us when we do wrong and approves us when we do right. If you sin against your conscience you become defiled, which means impure. To this person, nothing is pure. Repeated sinning hardens the conscience so it becomes seared. Notice the false teaching caused disputes rather than godly edification. When people violate their conscience repeatedly, they will be led astray, turned aside to idle talk. Imagine for a moment, you child or grandchild on their own on a typical college campus today. The talk in the dorms, the peer pressure, the godless intellectual professors who will challenge their faith and the very doctrine they believe. They cannot defend what they have not been taught. They will be conformed and abandon the faith unless they are anchored in sound doctrine can give a reason for their hope. We must pass on and reinforce sound doctrine given to us in the Word of God. The result of these practices is a sincere, true faith which comes from sound doctrine.
Paul tells us the reason for the law and its purpose. Many will ridicule belief in the Old Testament, from the very beginning story of creation, they want to make a believer feel foolish for believing the creation account. They question the nature of God, His laws, His judgement, His existence and His demands. Paul tells us : ‘ knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless, and the insubordinate, for the ungodly, and for sinners, for the unholy and the profane, for murderers of fathers and mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.’ Paul just used the 5th through the 9th commandments here in this list.
The lawful use of the law is to expose, restrain and correct the lawless. The law cannot save a lost sinner, it can only reveal their need for a Savior. Jesus said something very interesting in Mark 2: 17. Here is the situation: Jesus is eating with the tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees are questioning why Jesus is eating with them. This is His reply in Mark 2: 17: “When Jesus heard their question He said unto them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Ever have someone say I have some bad news and some good news, which do you want first? The Bible is a composite of 66 books divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Law is given in the Old Testament, it is the diagnosis. The bad news is you have a deadly disease- sin. It is the cancer in our blood which we are all born with described as our old sinful nature we inherited from Adam and we pass it on to our own children. The Law is a diagnosis without a remedy. It is bad news, if left untreated. Imagine going to your doctor and having a series of test done which reveal you have cancer. The doctor tells you the bad news- you have cancer. He does not tell you about the remedy, the treatment which can cure you and restore you to health. Malpractice at its worse. Or imagine the doctor does not even tell you the diagnosis so in your ignorance you can live worry free- ignorance is bliss we hear. No it is not. It is deadly.
The Gospel is the good news, it is the remedy for our deadly disease. God created the law and gave it to us through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1) He came to save us from our sin, the deadly disease which the diagnostic tool of the law revealed. We were in need of a blood transfusion which He provided. What can wash away my sins- nothing but the blood of Jesus. This can make us whole again, but even more make us holy. But our hearts were hardened by this infected blood, they were as hard as stones. So God performed the first heart transplants at Calvary where He removed our hearts of stone and gave us a new heart, when we first believed Christ died for our sins. (Ezekiel 36) We sing it was at Calvary where my burdened heart found liberty. A heart transplant cannot be performed without a donor, one who dies and gives his heart away. This is why God became a man. The Word became flesh. Man without God tries to be his own god. So God had a plan from before the foundation that He, God would become a man, to provide the remedy, the cure for our sickness.
PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL
So first sound doctrine begins with the bad news, the diagnosis of the sickness. Then comes the good news, the cure, the remedy, the treatment. The word ‘gospel’ actually means good news. We are to proclaim it. Why do we proclaim the gospel? The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe. ( Romans 1: 16) Paul tells us the important elements of the Gospel: “ For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures, and He was seen by Cephas and the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles and then by me, as one born out of due time.” (I Cor. 15)
When John entered the empty tomb that Easter Sunday, he knew immediately the body had not been stolen. He remembered how Lazarus came out and the burial cloth had to be removed, leaving a mess of stripped away linen which had been wrapped around his body. This burial cloth of Jesus had been left in its form like an empty cocoon. John knew Jesus was alive. Here Paul provides proof of His resurrection and of the power of the Gospel by his changed life. We know God is love and we know God loved the whole world. But were saved by His grace through faith. (Ephesians 2; 8-10) God’s grace and mercy are His love in action. The crucified body of the Lord Jesus pinned to a cross are the price God paid. The Lord Jesus’ sinless blood is more precious than all the gold and silver.
Paul tells his testimony on several occasions. You can read about it in Acts 9, Acts 22 and Acts 26. Paul describes the way he used to be: a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man. Paul as Saul of Tarsus sent people to prison and to their deaths for being Christians. He says the Lord’s grace toward him was exceedingly abundant. Paul to the end considered himself ‘chief among sinners.’ He obtained mercy and grace because of his ignorance and unbelief, Paul tells us. Cain sinned in not offering the sacrifice in the way he was to offer it. But God who rebuked Cain for not doing it the right way, told Cain if you do it the right way you will be accepted. This is God’s mercy, not giving us what we deserve, giving us an opportunity to be accepted.
Isn’t it interesting, Jesus prayed from the cross; “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Jesus said God forgive them for their ignorance.
So in writing your testimony, follow Paul’s example. Read his testimonies in Acts as listed above. Tell them as Paul did what you used to be like. How you got saved. What you became after you were saved. The prodigal was lost and dead. But his testimony becomes he is alive and found. Lost and found. And other healings Jesus performed were pictures of the saving power of the gospel- dead resurrected, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear – all healings of the sick.
I was a drunk, an alcoholic, a sot who could not stay sober. I went down on my knees in prayer asking the Lord Jesus to save me on September 16, 1977.I was lost, insane, dead in sin and trespasses, blind to the truth, and unable to overcome the power of alcohol. I arose from my knees a saint, who was saved and would become sober and sane. Paul and I and countless others proclaim a Gospel, Good News and our changed lives, our testimonies are proof of the power of the Gospel we proclaim.
Do you understand how important and powerful personal testimony is? Revelation 12: 11 tells us: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
Skeptics and scoffers can debate the validity and accuracy of Scripture and argue the existence of God, but they cannot deny personal testimony.
“Mercy there was great and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; there my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.”
- Your testimony is four acts.
- Act 1: tell them how your life was before Christ.
- Act 2: tell them about the turning point
- Act 3: tell them about your life after the turning point
- Act 4. Invite them to explore the possibility.
Follow Jesus’ method: take a sinner to lunch or dinner. 8