Category Archives: 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 2: An order of service

Knowing WHY you do something makes all the difference to your ATTITUDE. Someone who gets impatient waiting 30s for traffic lights to change will QUEUE FOR AN HOUR for their favourite restaurant, or even overnight to buy the latest iPhone.

Or a child at the beach paddles in the rockpool. It’s OK! But he GRUMBLES because he REALLY wants to play in the big waves on the beach. MUCH more exciting! But his mum knows it’s too rough, and he’ll be in danger. If he could understand THE DANGER, he’d be more CONTENT in the safety of the pool.

Or a teenaged daughter impatiently wants her mum to make her new dress TODAY. But they spend the whole day measuring and setting out, and arranging. If she could understand that the right preparation will end up with a well-made dress, she’d be more PATIENT, and get more ENJOYMENT out of the process.

Knowing the reason WHY you do something makes all the difference to your ATTITUDE.

And it’s the same here in 1 Timothy 2. Our attention goes straight to v11 and 12. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be quiet.”

For many of us, we react negatively. It goes against what we think about men and women. And about the individual rights of women. Men and women are EQUAL, and it’s not fair to restrict ONE from doing something the OTHER does.

But I want to suggest that God gives us good reasons WHY men and women are to behave a certain way. And that makes all the difference to your attitude.

Therefore

So, for example, look at the start of Chapter 2. V1, Paul urges Timothy to make sure people PRAY. And it begins with a “therefore” – some versions translate it as “then”. So we need to look back to Ch 1 to find out what the “therefore” is there for. (To find out WHY people are to pray.)

Chapter 1 was all about what TIMOTHY was to do. V3 Stay in Ephesus and stop false teaching. And v8, teach the truth about the law. And, v11, the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel. And then, v18, Paul gives Timothy that instruction, so he’ll fight the good fight and hold on to faith and a good conscience, so that people won’t shipwreck their faith.

Then Ch 2 begins. What the CHURCH was to do. “THEREFORE I urge you, FIRSTLY, to pray”. In other words, because some people have shipwrecked their faith, everyone should PRAY. It’s the MOST IMPORTANT thing the church can be doing. Not the ONLY thing, but of FIRST IMPORTANCE. All sorts of other good things to do. But the most useful is to pray. Because it’s GOD, ultimately, who makes people stand firm. God is at work to hold onto people.

ALL sorts of prayers, for ALL PEOPLE. Including, v2, for those who govern society. “Kings and all those in authority.” And can you see the REASON for that? that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. A stable society, ruled well, is A BLESSING. Christians are free to live godly, quiet, peaceful lives. That’s why you should pray.

And then, V3 and 4, there’s ANOTHER reason to pray for all people. 3 (A peaceful, quiet life) is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 WHO WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED AND TO COME TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.

We pray for all sorts of people because God wants ALL people to be saved. To know and live the truth. His vision for salvation is BROAD. And, so, the vision of our PRAYERS should be broad, TOO. We should pray for all nations, and all classes of people. All languages. Near and far. Open to the gospel, and closed. Rich and poor. Male and female.

And then in v5 and 6, we see the reason WHY God wants all men to be saved. 5 For there is ONE God and one mediator between God and MEN, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for ALL men

There AREN’T LOTS of gods – one for each nation. That’s the way most people think. “Each to his own”. “You shouldn’t evangelise”, they say, “because they’ve got their OWN religion. (It’s cultural imperialism!)”

But the truth is there’s only ONE God. ONE God over one HUMANITY. And he wants to save ALL his people. From EVERY race. There’s no difference. No black and white, no male and female, no rich or poor. So he sent one MEDIATOR between himself and that ONE HUMANITY. And Jesus gave himself as a single ransom sufficient for ALL mankind. There’s only ONE WAY to God. There aren’t LOTS of ways.

That’s why Paul was sent to THE GENTILES (v7). So that ALL people might hear that message. That the GENTILES would be saved by Jesus, TOO.

And then we come to v8-15, about what people should do when they gather for church. And, once again, there’s a connection between the WHAT and the WHY. Unfortunately the NIV didn’t include it, but there’s another “therefore” at the beginning of v8. 8 (Therefore) I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

Can you see the logic? BECAUSE God wants people EVERYWHERE to be saved, men in EVERY place, wherever a church meets, should lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. Each church should be a life-saving outpost, where men (and women, too) are praying for the salvation of those around them.

And because there’s ONE GOD who wants one new humanity reconciled to him. (Everyone, united together). Men should pray with CLEAN, PEACEFUL hands, unpolluted by disagreements and quarrels. No power struggles, no selfish “me-first” attitudes.

There should be UNITY in the church, because there’s unity in God’s kingdom – one new humanity, united under Jesus. That’s attitude and behaviour that matches up to God’s character, and God’s purposes.

Likewise, v9, the WOMEN are to have an attitude that matches up to God’s character. (Men aren’t to argue or quarrel). Women aren’t to be SHOWY OR PROUD. Particularly in the way THEY DRESS. That just encourages competition and envy. And DISunity and divisions. Whereas HUMILITY encourages unity and peace between people. That’s what’s in keeping with God’s purposes.

What they SHOULD be known for are GOOD DEEDS, done cheerfully and humbly. Rather than the latest fashion. Because serving others matches up with the character of Jesus, who GAVE HIMSELF as a ransom for all.

We focus on the EXTERNALS – the CLOTHING. But Paul’s emphasis, I suggest, is on THE ATTITUDES. Just like the MEN, where the focus is their attitudes of anger and disputing.

And when it comes to the church meeting, here’s what that attitude of humility and service looks like – v11 and 12. (V11, about what women SHOULD do. And, v12, what they SHOULDN’T do.) They go together, and each verse helps us to understand the other. 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. God wants ALL humanity to come to a knowledge of the truth (v4). And that includes WOMEN, who are to LEARN.

And the WAY they’re to learn is in quietness with all submissiveness. Quietness doesn’t mean SILENCE. It’s the same word as in v2, where Christians are to live peaceful and QUIET lives. It means learning without arguing or antagonism. Juyst like the false teachers back in chapter 1, who loved controversies and disagreements and meaningless talk.

The word for submission hupo- taxis means, literally, UNDER ORDER, or under ORDERLINESS. It’s a word used often for what Christians are called to do. Just as earthly fathers discipline us, we should submit TO THE FATHER OF OUR SPIRITS (Heb 12:9). We’re to submit TO CHRIST as our head (Eph 5:24), and to EARTHLY AUTHORITIES (Rom 13:1), and to THOSE OVER US in Christian leadership (1 Corinthians 16:16). Christian slaves are to submit to their MASTERS, and younger men to OLDER men, and children to PARENTS. And, finally, ALL things will be made to submit to Jesus in the end, as Jesus submits to God. (1 Corinthians 15:28).

John Woodhouse writes, “God has ORDERED society a certain way, and his plan is that society is redeemed, not by individual liberation from restraints and obligations to others, but by each gladly placing him or herself under the ones God has placed over us… Christians are called to recognise, acknowledge and welcome the responsibilities God has given to others for our welfare… Submission is the opposite of autonomy and independence. It is an acceptance of dependence.”

And that’s the attitude women are to have as they learn in the church gathering. They’re not to challenge or dispute what’s taught. They’re to be willing to learn, and eager to obey. The way they LEARN in church (v11) should match the way they DRESS (v9), and the way they behave GENERALLY (v10).

Verse 12 turns it around, and considers what this means they’re NOT to do in church. They’re NOT TO TEACH OR HAVE AUTHORITY OVER A MAN. Teaching everyone the knowledge of the truth is someone ELSE’S responsibility, not theirs. Accept God’s order.

That doesn’t mean women can’t teach AT ALL. Paul encourages women to teach other WOMEN, and to teach CHILDREN. Even Timothy himself, as a child, received instruction from his mother and grandmother. It’s only teaching MEN that’s someone ELSE’S responsibility.

So what about “having authority”? It’s connected to the idea of the way God’s ordered society. He’s given certain people responsibilities towards others. In this case it’s MEN who are to lead the church. The idea of AUTHORITY, then, in v12, is the mirror image of the idea of SUBMISSION in v11.

So for a woman not to be in authority over a man means to welcome, and gladly accept, the responsibility certain men have to teach and shepherd and oversee the church.

And that’s the context for the submission. It doesn’t mean women are to submit to ALL men in GENERAL. But specifically, their husband, and those God has put in charge to lead the church.

We’ll come back in a few moments to think about what all this means for how women CAN serve in church. But let’s keep moving through the passage, because, once again, v13, we get two reasons WHY women are to be in submission and not to be in authority over men.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

From CREATION, God set up an order of responsibilities. Man was given the task of ruling and subduing the earth. And then woman was given the task of being his HELPER. That’s God’s good design. But when Eve was deceived by the snake, she TURNED THAT ORDER UPSIDE DOWN. Instead of listening to, and being led by Adam, the way God designed, she listened to the SNAKE and was DECEIVED. That’s what happens when you don’t submit to God’s order.

The point is not that women can’t teach or be in authority in church BECAUSE THEY’RE EASILY DECEIVED, or not ABLE to teach. But because God’s creation design is for husbands to lead, and wives to be their helpers. That’s his creation design IN MARRIAGE. And it’s ALSO TO BE REFLECTED IN THE CHURCH.

Clare Smith writes, “The principles of God’s creation have not changed. This pattern of relationships transcends time and culture… What was ideal in the garden still applies. The pattern of male leadership and female submission that God first established/ is to be the pattern for the Ephesian church. And the DISRUPTION of that pattern seen in the Fall is not be be repeated. The women are not to usurp the male leadership God has provided.”

Which brings us to the LAST verse, which is DIFFICULT, and there’s lots of opinions about what it means. But the key, I think, is to remember the connection to the previous verses about Eve.

(13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner). 15 But (she) will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety

The reference to child-bearing is connected to Eve being deceived and SINNING. And then God’s CONSEQUENCES for her in the fallen world. Firstly, that child-bearing will be PAINFUL. But also that her desire will be for her husband, and he will rule over her. Paul’s saying that even though Eve sinned. God didn’t ABANDON her. He was still at work, and ultimately, she was SAVED, as she lived out her God-given responsibility of filling the earth. Through her child-bearing and through the damaged relationship with Adam.

What’s that got to do with the women in Timothy’s church? Paul’s been FIRM, now he’s being COMFORTING. He’s been NEGATIVE, now he’s being POSITIVE. He’s saying, “God’s design is for the man to lead and the woman to help. And that’s to be reflected in church. And even though women might have to endure the effects of the fall – the painful childbearing and the battle for who’s in charge – God will still work out his salvation purposes for them, as they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control. As they’re CONTENT in the roles God’s given them. That’s the life that conforms to the sound doctrine of the gospel.

So if that’s what women AREN’T to do? What CAN they be doing in church? What SHOULD they be doing? 1 Corinthians 12 talks about how EVERYONE is part of the body. We’ve all been given gifts to help build up the body. Which means we should USE them. What can women do? What SHOULD women do? ANYTHING men do/ that’s not teaching or having authority over men.

Ephesians 5:19 says we’re to ALL to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Colossians 3:16 says we’re to let the word of Christ dwell richly in us as we TEACH, ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER with all wisdom. Titus 2:4 talks about older women training younger women. 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 talks about both men and women PRAYING AND PROPHESYING in church. ALL SORTS of things women can and SHOULD be doing in church.

I want to finish by identifying a number of traps we fall into when it comes to men and women using their gifts in church.  Firstly, a few for the MEN. One. Men can be contentious and argumentative, proud and competitive. Rather than lifting up HOLY hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. Christian community should be a place of peace and unity.

SECOND trap. Men who FAIL to step up to lead – either as husbands and fathers, or in the church. They wait for SOMEONE ELSE to do it – either through spiritual immaturity or laziness or selfishness. Or else they lead, but in a poor way. They’re unprepared or underprepared. They give the minimum effort, and settle for second best. And they don’t give the women much to learn FROM, or to submit TO.

THIRD TRAP. Men who DO rule, rule SELFISHLY AND OPPRESSIVELY, out of self-interest, rather than as servant leaders like Jesus. Male elders and teachers, make it EASY for women to learn and submit to you by putting THEIR needs before your own.

Now to the women. FOURTH trap. Women who push themselves forward from wrong motives – to prove a point, or to be in authority, or from pride because they think they know better.

Finally, FIFTH trap. When women don’t WANT to speak, or teach or train or encourage others in appropriate ways. Perhaps they’ve never known anything different. Or they’ve never really understood what the Bible teaches about how we’re all to use our gifts. Or they’re not sure they’ve got anything to contribute. If that’s you, then let me share 1 Corinthians 14:26 with you.

26 What then shall we say, brethren? When you come together, EVERYONE has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

We’re STRENGTHENED as men and women share what God’s been doing for them. As they lead us in prayer, lifting up holy hands. As they prophesy – pointing each other to God’s truth in the Bible. And as they teach and train others. The WHOLE body working together. As Ephesians 4:15 says speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, AS EACH PART DOES ITS WORK.

And we ALL do it these things/ because God wants all people to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Praise God for his mercy in Jesus, and in working out the gospel in the church!

1 Timothy 1: Instructions for building a church

IKEA is one of the most popular furniture stores in the world. Great ideas, great design. And good prices. But for many people the big problem is SELF-ASSEMBLY. The dreaded allen key and instruction book. It’s easy enough to get the flat pack home. Because it fits in your car. But the DIFFICULT part is PUTTING IT TOGETHER. Following page after page of instructions. And making sure you use screw B instead of screw A. And making sure you don’t end up with too many unused pieces left over at the end. And making sure it doesn’t fall apart the first time you USE it. In fact, there are now people you can PAY to put your Ikea furniture together!

If it’s THIS hard putting FURNITURE together. Imagine when you’re trying to build a CHURCH! What we really need is an instruction book. And that’s actually what we’ve got in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. Instructions on how to put together a church. Step by step.

You see, Paul’s the master-builder. And Timothy’s one of his apprentices. If you have a look at verse 3 you can see the situation. Paul’s business is building churches. In cities all over the known world. He gets to a city, he preaches about Jesus, there are people who become Christians. And that’s the start of a church. And he makes sure there are suitable leaders to leave in charge. And then he moves on. And repeats the process in the NEXT city.

This time he’s been in the city of Ephesus, and he’s moved on to his next spot. Macedonia. And he’s sent Timothy there to keep building the church. And this letter is his instruction manual. What to make his PRIORITIES. What his STRATEGY should be. How to handle all the different sorts of people he’ll lead.

It’s for church LEADERS. But it’s for the church as well. For everyone. Us, too. And it tells us HOW WE SHOULD BE LEAD. The sort of leaders we should be looking for. And the sort of goals we’ve got to work towards TOGETHER.

STEP 1: Teach the truth

If we want to build our church the RIGHT WAY, we need to follow the instructions. And instruction number 1. The top of the list. Is to TEACH THE TRUTH.

And the first part of that/ v3, is to stop false teaching. Before Timothy can make any progress at all, he’s got to stop the rot. Before he can start teaching the TRUTH, he’s got to stop those who are teaching LIES. False doctrine.

And the two always seem to go together. Where-ever you’re trying to teach the truth, there’ll always be INSIDE OPPOSITION. Because Paul’s not talking here about people OUTSIDE the church trying to cause trouble. He’s talking about the people INSIDE.

They’re arguing and debating and getting tied up in all sorts of technicalities; trying to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s; and all they end up with/ is stupid arguments.

There in v3. They “devote themselves to MYTHS AND ENDLESS GENEALOGIES. These promote CONTROVERSIES / RATHER than God’s work – which is BY FAITH.”

It’s like a BUILDING. If it’s not build on the right FOUNDATION, it won’t STAND. If you’re building a CHURCH, it needs to be built on RIGHT DOCTRINE. On what GOD says, rather than what PEOPLE think. On the truth. Instead of lies.

We DON’T need the latest idea from the Business world, or America, or last month’s conference, or some new book. We DON’T need a few thoughts on a poem, or a newspaper editorial, or some song lyrics. A lot of that can be just the same as this – human SPECULATION. What we need is the rock solid foundation/ of truth/ that ONLY comes from God’s Word.

Now, standing firm like that/ takes a bit of courage. And for a guy like Timothy, it must have been hard. He was timid and young. And a bit sickly. Not the sort of bloke people NATURALLY looked to for leadership.

It’s tempting to move on from just teaching the Bible. People think they’ve heard it before, and what you need is something NEW and DIFFERENT. Perhaps that’s what the false teachers were thinking – coming up with new interpretations on old ideas.

And it’s the same today. After all, we’re living in an entertainment culture. People are used to high vision stimulation. And low involvement. And they don’t read much either – unless it’s a post on facebook or twitter. So it’s tough convincing people that STUDYING A BOOK is the key to living God’s way.

And it was tough for Timothy too. Because what he was up against/ SOUNDED SO IMPRESSIVE. And religious. And WISE. And in the end, all they really want to do is teach GOD’S LAW. Now what can be so wrong with that?

But Paul tells us the problem in v7. They’re really just the blind leading the blind.

“They want to be TEACHERS OF THE LAW. But they don’t know what they’re talking about, or what they so confidently affirm.”

They wanted to be experts, but they’d got the Old Testament law all wrong. They thought it was a guide book for how to be righteous. They thought the Christian life was about keeping a set of Old Testament rules.

And because they got the OLD TESTAMENT law wrong, they’d missed the whole point of the GOSPEL. Jesus came to keep the law fully, so we didn’t HAVE to. He came to set us FREE from keeping it. Because we CAN’T.

The REAL news about Jesus is GOOD news. But the message THESE guys were bringing was BAD news. “Follow this rule. Do that. Jump this high. Then PERHAPS God might let you through!”

They’d misunderstood the Old Testament law. V8-11, It’s for something else ENTIRELY. It’s to show sinners how they’ve fallen short of God’s standard. It’s not for people who THINK THEY CAN BE RIGHTEOUS BY DOING IT. It’s for REBELS. For those who RECOGNISE they’re NOT righteous. That they’re sick, and NEED a doctor. Read from verse 8.

“We know that the law is GOOD if one uses it PROPERLY. We also know that law is made not for the RIGHTEOUS but for LAWBREAKERS and REBELS”, and so on.

The law’s no use for people who think they’re GOOD. It’s not a wall plaque for the office. A big award to celebrate everything you’ve achieved. Or a checklist, or shopping list, you tick off to make sure you’ve covered everything. That’s what the false teachers thought. But that’s getting the law WRONG.

But Paul says there IS a good use for the law. Firstly, it’s a BIG POINTING FINGER, aimed straight at sinners. And that’s ALL of us. Showing us our complete helplessness and sinfulness. The law says “You CAN’T keep me. Not even for one day. You can’t make it on your own. You can ONLY please God through Jesus. He’s the ONLY way”.

It’s the searching spotlight that shines it’s holiness into the dark corners of our lives. It exposes our sinfulness and rebellion and pride .

And it’s also a STOP SIGN. ANOTHER good use for the law. STOPPING sinners who naturally WANT to SIN. The law says, “STOP. This is NOT what God wants. Danger lies ahead if you keep going this way. There are consequences for sin.” The law serves as a STOP SIGN.

And, thirdly, the law’s also A SIGNPOST. Showing the BEST way to go. It says, once you’re a child of God by faith, “Do you want to know how to please God? Here’s the way to go! Go THIS way” John Calvin said this about the law. “By frequent meditation on it believers will be aroused to obedience, and be strengthened in it. Indeed it is in this joyous obedience/ that authentic Christian freedom is to be found”

The law IS GOOD if we use it properly. And that’s three GOOD things to do with the law. Use it as a big pointing finger or searchlight. A stop sign. And a sign post pointing to godly living.

In fact, Paul gives himself as a great example of what the law does. In the second half of the chapter. He USED to be like the false teachers. He USED to think he was RIGHTEOUS. He even defended God’s honour by persecuting Christians. But then Jesus showed him how WRONG he was. He realizes (v13) he was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. Or, v15, the WORST of sinners. There’s no way the false teachers would ever admit THAT about themselves! But there’s joy and truth in that message. Because Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE sinners like Paul. He showed his unlimited patience to Paul so OTHERS would believe and receive eternal life.

Which is the SECOND part of teaching the truth. PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL. The FIRST part is stopping the false teaching. Which is only BAD news. Because it’s all about what PEOPLE have to do. But the message of God’s forgiveness in Jesus for sinners is GREAT NEWS. Because it’s all about what GOD’S done.

Look at Paul for example. What God’s done FOR HIM. Scan down through it from Verse 11 – a glorious gospel. Verse 12. Jesus has GIVEN me strength, APPOINTED me to his service. Verse 13. I was SHOWN MERCY. 14. Grace of our Lord poured out on me ABUNDANTLY. 15. Christ Jesus SAVES sinners. 16. I was shown MERCY, and unlimited PATIENCE, and RECEIVED ETERNAL LIFE. NOTHING that Paul’s done. And EVERYTHING that JESUS has done.

People think it’s depressing, bad news to be told you’re a hopeless sinner. Opponents of school Scripture classes think it’s terrible for children’s self-esteem. But when you KNOW it’s true. You’ve seen the depths of sin in your own heart. In your thoughts and attitudes. And you’re powerless to change yourself. And you know you’ve received GRACE – that’s the best news you’ll ever HEAR! That’s the joy that keeps Paul speaking the message even when he suffers for it. It STILL amazes him. He finishes with the song of praise in v17

17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

In ministry, you’re going to run out of energy and enthusiasm pretty quickly if your message is just THEORETICAL. It needs to be good news FOR YOU before you can pass it on to ANYONE ELSE. Does the gospel have THAT effect on YOU?

STEP 2: Encourage godly living

That’s step ONE in building a church. (Teaching the truth). Step 2 is to ENCOURAGE GODLY LIVING. You can see it back in verses 4 and 5. What the Christian life is REALLY about. The stuff the false teachers promote only causes TROUBLE. But God’s work – IS BY FAITH.

And look what he says next. The goal of this command, he says in verse 5, the thing you want to achieve by shutting up these false teachers; it’s not just to have YET ANOTHER theological debate. The goal is LOVE… LOVE which comes from a PURE HEART, and a GOOD CONSCIENCE, and a SINCERE FAITH. That’s the stuff to encourage!

God’s work. God’s goal. Is that Christians aim for LOVE. Love that starts with faith. Faith in God’s forgiveness through Jesus.

And love that comes from A PURE HEART and a GOOD CONSCIENCE. God cleanses you on the INSIDE. For REAL. For EVER. Law-keeping will never do THAT.

You’ve got a genuine new nature. And so you can love people FOR REAL. Without the ulterior motive of EARNING FAVOURS with God

But love that WORKS for the good of others in the church, simply because you belong to Jesus.

And lastly, it’s love that comes from a SINCERE faith. It’s, literally, a faith that’s UNHYPOCRITICAL. Faith that ACCEPTS God’s grace, and OFFERS grace to others. That GENUINE. That doesn’t demand payment or thanks for every action done, yet is happy to accept every one of God’s gifts. Love that s GIVEN because you know you’ve RECEIVED love.

It’s the only EFFECTIVE fuel for love. Other religions are about WORKS. You serve people because you get something out of it – favour from God, or karma. Humanism does good out of human internal resources, or perhaps from pride. But the Christian loves because SHE’S been loved. She’s been forgiven and washed clean and accepted. And now wants to PLEASE God, and FOLLOW Jesus. Love that comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

That’s the sort of LOVE God wants THIS church to be showing. The work God wants to be doing IN US. How are we doing at that?

Paul encourages Timothy, and US, to keep TEACHING that. Right at the end of the chapter he says it. Verse 18. Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them YOU MAY FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, {19} HOLDING ON to faith and a good conscience.

“Don’t give up,” he’s saying, “Keep plugging away. Keep teaching the truth. And keep encouraging godly living.

And he uses HIMSELF as an example. To show us what God’s been doing in HIM. If God can do it in PAUL. He can do it in ANYONE.”

It’s like one of those ads on TV. Get the dirtiest, most stained shirt you can find. And soak it in new improved NAPISAN and see what happens. If it can get stains out of THAT, then you know it’s going to work for YOUR stuff. And that’s how it is with Paul. That’s what he says. Verse 13. He was the WORST THERE WAS.

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. {14} The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. {15} Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.

This isn’t false humility. It’s ACCURATE. You’ve only got to read bits of the Book of Acts to find that out. Paul’s saying, “God did A MIRACLE in me!” And there’s nothing stopping him doing that in ANYONE!”

Keep reading. Verse 16. “For that very reason,” says Paul, “I was shown mercy so that in me, THE WORST OF SINNERS, Christ Jesus might display his UNLIMITED PATIENCE / as AN EXAMPLE for those who would BELIEVE ON HIM – AND RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE.”

The point is/ If Jesus is prepared to forgive someone like PAUL/ then he can SURELY forgive ANYONE.

Now it may be today/ that for you, that’s the best thing you ever heard. You’ve messed up, you’ve RUINED large areas of your life, you look inside yourself and there’s nothing much to be impressed with. And you hear one of the greatest Christians of all time say, IT’S OKAY. Look how much I WAS FORGIVEN. By the mercy of God. That’s why CHRIST JESUS CAME… to save SINNERS.

And he’s got UNLIMITED PATIENCE with sinners. Far more than you or I would. So if you’re tempted to think you’re beyond God’s forgiving, Paul says, YOU’RE WRONG! He says, Look what he forgave ME! The lesson for us is God can save ANYONE. And no-one’s too hard.

Or maybe you look at sin from THE OTHER SIDE. Maybe you look at someone who’s so rough, or wicked, or hard, or bitter/ that you give up on them? You think, “God could NEVER make that person a Christian? Or perhaps you look at DIFFERENT sorts of people. Happy, contented, rich, successful, gifted people. They’ve got EVERYTHING. And you think. “They don’t really NEED God.”

But whenever we think like that/ we’re forgetting PAUL. If God can save PAUL, he can save anyone. Any time. There’s NO WAY/ YOU CAN SAY “NO WAY!” So never give up. And never stop praying. Because God can do amazing things. And if you keep your eyes open around HERE you’ll gradually see it. God’s grace at work/ as people come face to face with Jesus.

It’s not often going to be like Paul. A flash of light on the road. More likely, it’s going to be through people like YOU talking about Jesus to your friends. And living like Jesus. Sharing the gospel. And God works in people’s lives.

God’s still at work exactly the same way. Forgiving sins. Dishing up his mercy ABUNDANTLY. More than you’d ever expect.

Paul tells Timothy to stick with it. And not to get sidetracked. Verse 18 and 19, he says, “I’m telling you this so you’ll keep going.” FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.

Build God’s church. Do God’s work. By teaching the truth. And by encouraging godly living. Because God is powerful. And if he can change Paul, he can change ANYONE.

1 Timothy 1: Precious Cargo

Englishman Steven Isserlis is one of the world’s greatest cellists. He’s recently been in Sydney. Playing some concerts for Musica Viva.

His new cello is a Montagnana from 1740. Which is apparently very good. It must be. It’s worth 850,000 euros. He’s had to organise a consortium of generous people to buy shares in it, and then a bank loan to make up the difference.

But now he’s able to use A WONDERFUL TREASURE. One of the most beautiful sounding cellos in the world. In fact, it’s SUCH a wonderful treasure, he has to take SPECIAL CARE OF HIS PRECIOUS CARGO. When he travels anywhere, including to Australia, he books TWO seats. One for him… and one for his cello.

He says “An extra seat is a small price to pay to know that your precious cargo isn’t being bounced around in the luggage section, or dropped by luggage handlers”.

And it’s the same with Paul. Our reading from Acts 19 and 20 shows us PAUL’S special cargo. The Ephesian Church. He’s seen it grow from a baby. He’s been there through the ups and downs. He spent the best part of three years there. And he loves the people DEARLY. He’s protective of them. Jealous for them. Wants to see them develop, and persevere.

But the reality is/ he can’t look after it himself for ever. He has to hand it over to someone else. To Timothy. His son in the faith. His co-worker at Ephesus.

And Paul shows all the concern for HIS precious cargo/ as a musician does for his instrument. His message to Timothy is that the church at Ephesus is PRECIOUS. HANDLE WITH CARE!

The background

For the next seven weeks we’ll be looking at Paul’s first letter to Timothy. But rather than begin with ch 1, today we’re going to do something a bit different. We’re going to look at the BACKGROUND to the relationships we see on the pages of the letter. And for that we need to turn to Acts 19.

Paul had some real history with Timothy, and with this church. Apart from Antioch, he knew this group of God’s people better than any other. Let me show you what I mean.

There at the beginning

If you look at the start of Ch 19. you can see that Paul had the privilege of being there at the very beginning. The ground floor. He was there at the birth of the church in Ephesus.

He introduced a group of 12 men to Jesus. Saw them converted. Saw them filled with the Holy Spirit.

What a privilege that was! Has it been YOUR experience to introduce anyone to Jesus? Nothing in your life will have more SIGNIFICANCE than that!

Paul worked hard and long

So, Paul saw them born again. But he didn’t stop there. From v8, you can see how he worked HARD AND LONG in Ephesus. For three months, he spoke in the synagogue. Trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was their Messiah. He wanted to GROW the little church.

Eventually, he made enough enemies that he was forced to move. And so he set up shop in the local public hall. The lecture hall of Tyrannus. And that continued for TWO YEARS. And, in v10, we read that ALL THE JEWS AND GREEKS who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

You see, Ephesus was the commercial hub of the region. The centre for trade. All roads met at Ephesus. It was the perfect spot to plant a church that would impact the surrounding area.

And the message had AN EFFECT. God gave Paul the ability to do miracles. To heal, and to cast out demons. Look at the result. V17.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS WAS HELD IN HIGH HONOR. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.  20 In this way THE WORD OF THE LORD SPREAD WIDELY AND GREW IN POWER.

Paul’s helper there was Timothy

And it’s about this time, we get our first look at Timothy. V22 tells us he’s one of Paul’s HELPERS. His co-workers.

In fact, in his LETTERS, Paul calls him his dear son. Or his true son in the faith. And v22 tells us that Paul sent Timothy ahead of him to Macedonia…. More on Tim later.

Paul experienced trouble from Jew and Gentile

So things were going well. But not everything was rosy. There were PROBLEMS. Paul experienced trouble from Jew AND Gentile.

The Jews wouldn’t put up with his teaching about Jesus. So he was booted out of the synagogue.

And the GENTILES got in on the act too. When the gospel began to affect the local economy – the trade in IDOLS and SHRINES. There was A RIOT. Look from v23. In fact, things get SO hot for Paul, they decide it’d be best for Paul to move on.

And so, in Ch 20 v1, Paul heads off for Macedonia. Where he rejoins Timothy. And works for about three months.

But his thoughts and prayers are still with the Ephesians. So, on his return journey, even though he’s in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, he stops off at Miletus. Which is only about 50 km from Ephesus.

Paul entrusts the church to them

Take up the story down in v17 of Ch 20. He sends for the elders of the Ephesian church. And they drop everything and come to meet Paul. Because he’s their spiritual father.

And we get to eavesdrop in on Paul’s words to them. Words that tell us about his ministry there, and about what he thinks of them. From v18.

“You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great HUMILITY and with TEARS, although I was SEVERELY TESTED by the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

Notice a few things. The depth of his feeling for them. The difficulties caused by the Jews. And his commitment to the gospel message. All things that will pop up again in his letter years later.

And then, down in v28, he gives them a charge. He hands over his precious cargo to them. He entrusts the church to them.

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, WHICH HE BOUGHT WITH HIS OWN BLOOD. 29 I know that after I leave, SAVAGE WOLVES will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard!

The elders are to be OVERSEERS, and SHEPHERDS. Watching out for SAVAGE WOLVES. Making sure that the sheep aren’t drawn away. That the sheep stick it out to the end. That they keep following Jesus.

And see how VALUABLE the cargo is? It’s the church which God bought with his own blood!

And the meeting finishes with prayer, and tears, warm embraces, and kisses. Because the ELDERS were just as valuable to Paul as the REST of the church.

So that’s a quick sketch of the three players in the drama. Of Paul, of Timothy, and of the Ephesian church.

A letter

And with that picture in mind, let’s turn to 1 Timothy. Best guess is that about eight years has passed. Paul and Timothy have been through many adventures. Including Paul’s imprisonment in Jerusalem.

And some time after his release, Paul sends Timothy back to Ephesus. To look after his beloved church. His precious cargo.

And it’s there that Tim receives a letter from Paul. A letter/ from a father/ to a son/ about a church.

A letter to encourage him. To direct and guide him. To make sure he’s taking good care of Paul’s precious cargo. And it does the same for us, reading over Timothy’s shoulder centuries later. He charges US to look after the precious cargo God’s entrusted to US.

Look for example at Ch 3 of 1 Tim. Ch 3 v14. It sums up the whole letter.

14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, YOU WILL KNOW HOW PEOPLE OUGHT TO CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN GOD’S HOUSEHOLD, which is the church of the living God, THE PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF THE TRUTH.

Paul wants Timothy to instruct the people in the right way for God’s people to live.

Let’s look at how Paul DOES that. And we’ll look at it under three headings. From a father. To a son. About a church.

From a father: 1:11-17; 2:4-7

Firstly, from a father. What do we learn about PAUL? The spiritual father of Timothy, and the Ephesian church?

Ch 1 v11. He’s been ENTRUSTED with the glorious gospel of God. Even though he’s near the end of his life, it still knocks his socks off/ that God would send Jesus to save people like him.

And, for Paul, it’s glorious/ FIRSTLY because it’s a message which has CHANGED HIS LIFE. Ch 1 v13

13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul can hardly believe that God has been that good to him.

And so, he faithfully proclaims that message wherever he goes. Over in Ch 2 v5 he says.

5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle-

No one will be excited about spreading the gospel/ unless he is first excited about what God has done for HIM. Is that the way it is with YOU?

To a Son:

Teach the truth against false teaching: 1:3; 6:3-10

That’s a little about Paul. What about Timothy?

In ch 1 v3, Paul urges him to stay where he is, and to TEACH THE TRUTH AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS. He says it again over in Ch 6.

It seems to be false teachers with A PARTICULAR JEWISH BENT. Like Paul described back in Acts 20. The savage wolves who’d come.

And Paul certainly doesn’t pull any punches when he describes them. Look at the start of Ch 4.

some will abandon the faith and follow DECEIVING SPIRITS and THINGS TAUGHT BY DEMONS. 2 Such teachings come through HYPOCRITICAL LIARS, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.

This is a serious business to be preaching lies!

And if they were that savage. Perhaps Timothy would rather be somewhere else. Perhaps he’s tempted to skip town. But Paul wants to encourage him to stick at it. He URGES him to say there. Because he’s protecting a precious cargo.

Fight the good fight 1:18-19; 6:12

And it’s hard work. Twice, Paul tells him to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT. And in Ch 4 v15 he says BE DILIGENT in these matters. And in the very next verse. PERSEVERE in them. Don’t give up, when it would be easier to.

And look at the reason why. Ch 4 v16.

16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, YOU WILL SAVE BOTH YOURSELF AND YOUR HEARERS.

There’s no greater prize to work for/ than someone’s salvation. There’s no greater reward to fight for/ than for someone to make it to the end following Jesus.

It’s worth GIVING YOUR LIFE TO. It’s worth RE-TRAINING. It’s worth TAKING A PAY CUT. It’s worth moving house for.

Have YOU thought about whether You can be doing that full-time?

There’s no greater prize to work for/ than someone’s salvation.

It’s worth putting up with difficult people, and putting yourself in uncomfortable positions. It’s worth teaching Scripture in schools to kids who don’t really want to hear. It’s worth handing out tea and coffee at the Doonside Festival, and listening to people’s stories – even when you feel uncomfortable, and don’t know what to say.

There’s no greater prize to work for/ than someone’s salvation.

Set an example in words and actions 4:7-16

Another of Paul’s major themes is that it’s not just about what Timothy SAYS. He’s to set an example in his words AND his ACTIONS.

Ch 4 v6. A good minister will POINT THESE THINGS OUT. That’s the SPEAKING. The TEACHING.

And in the very next verse. Have nothing to do with old wives’ tales. TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE GODLY. That’s the ACTIONS. The behaviour.

Or down in v12. “Set an example for the believers in SPEECH/, AND in LIFE, in LOVE, in FAITH and in PURITY.

Or again in v16. “Watch your LIFE AND DOCTRINE closely”. The WALK must match the TALK.

Robert Murray McCheyne, the church of Scotland minister, wrote in his diary, “The greatest need of my congregation is my personal holiness”.

That’s a HUGE CHALLENGE to me!

And Paul saw that showing itself in a whole range of areas. His relationships with all the different sorts of people. Young and old. Male and female. Slave and free. Rich and poor. That’s the start of Ch 5.

He wasn’t to show favouritism. 5:21. He wasn’t to covet. He was to flee the love of money Ch 6 v11.

Guard what has been entrusted to you 6:20-21

And just in case Timothy forgot the importance of the task, in his final words Paul reminds him of HIS PRECIOUS CARGO. Ch 6 v20.

20 Timothy, GUARD WHAT HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO YOUR CARE. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you

About a Church

That’s a little about Timothy. What about the Ephesian church? What does Paul have to say for them?

behaviour 2:8-15; 5:1-16

As committed as Paul was to the gospel, it was never something which didn’t affect your BEHAVIOUR – that meant you could sit back and take it easy. Being God’s people had RADICAL IMPLICATIONS for your lifestyle.

Look, for example at Ch 1 v4. False teaching just promotes controversy. But God’s work, his stewardship has the goal of LOVE. Love which comes through the means of a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith.

God’s people are DIFFERENT right to the core.

That behaviour was to be seen in the nitty gritty of everyday life. Like between husband and wife. Ch 2: 8-15.

Or in the way you look after your own family, or widows in the church Ch 5.

Timothy was to teach about BEHAVIOUR.

prayer 2:1-2

Next, God’s people are to PRAY. The start of Ch 2

2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone- 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

Perhaps Paul is thinking of the riot he’d experienced in Ephesus. A good government is God’s instrument for helping his people to live peaceful and holy lives.

How are WE doing with PRAYER? Is it the FIRST thing we think of doing, or the LAST?

I’m thinking particularly of when we get together. Is prayer something that shapes us? Defines us?

It’s one of our core values. But is that seen in how much we pray?

Why not grab a couple of people, and meet regularly to PRAY. I know some of your are doing that! That’s great!

We need God’s help to grow his church. We need to be asking him to do that.

leadership 3:1-13; 5:17-20

Another of Paul’s concerns is with appointing suitable leaders. Elders and deacons. Shepherds for God’s people.

Just like Paul needed Timothy and others. So Timothy needs to help of good elders to help him. And to prepare for when Timothy would be moving on.

I know, for me, having a great group of elders is not just a big help, with their wise counsel and hard work. But they’re a wonderful encouragement too.

So in Ch 3 and Ch 5, Paul gives some instructions for the sorts of people who make good leaders. You can see the desire that’s DRIVING Paul. Protecting his precious cargo. Remember back in Acts 20?

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 SO BE ON YOUR GUARD!

Good leaders protect and look after God’s people. How are OUR leaders doing at that? Tell us when we don’t do it well. When we get slack. Encourage us to keep at it. Let us know how we can do that better. Pray for us that we’ll be wise, and bold, and steadfast.

standing firm to the end 1:19; 2:15; 4:1; 5:15; 6:10; 6:19

Because you’re worth it. God’s people are a precious cargo. We ALL have an extraordinary responsibility to keep the sheep safe until the end.

Persevering. That’s a theme that Paul keeps coming back to. And it’s my final point. There’s nothing MORE IMPORTANT.

Ch 1:19. Some have rejected faith and a good conscience. And SHIPWRECKED their FAITH.

Ch 2:15 Women will be saved IF they CONTINUE in faith, love and holiness.

Ch 4:11 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith

Ch 5:15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Ch 6:10 Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

And just as Paul has a final word for TIMOTHY, so he has a final word for THE EPHESIANS. Ch 6:18

18 Command them to DO GOOD, to be RICH in good deeds, and to be GENEROUS and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may TAKE HOLD OF THE LIFE THAT IS TRULY LIFE.

How much are WE valuing people standing firm? How do we encourage people to keep meeting? To keep reading God’s Word? To stick at it?

God’s people are a precious cargo.

We must encourage each other to keep going. Nothing is more important. So that we might all lay up treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, and take hold of the life that is truly life.

1 Timothy 4: Train yourself to be godly

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that young people are the future of the church. That’s wrong! It’s unhelpful, it’s wrong-headed, and it’s not Biblical!

The truth is young people ARE the church… And so are OLD people. And so are women and men. And so are preachers and Kids church teachers. And so are morning tea helpers and musicians and Bible readers and pamphlet folders and face-painters and BBQ’ers and singers and pray-ers and Home Group leaders and Committee of Management members, and elders. And so are cookers and sweepers and Scripture teachers and Kids talk presenters and event organisers and telephoners.

Church is ALL of those people who are involved in serving each other, and serving God. And so, young people ARE the church.

Today is our Youth Service. We have one about once a term. And the Youth run it. And you get to see them doing things up the front. But that doesn’t mean they’re only part of the church TODAY, and then next week they go back to only being the FUTURE of the church.

Because, WHOEVER YOU ARE, if you’re involved in serving and in being served, in any way, then you’re part of the church.

Now, normally, we just follow the regular preaching program. But this time, we’re going to focus on ONE VERSE. It’s Youth Group’s THEME verse. 1 Tim 4:12

12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young/, but SET AN EXAMPLE for the believers/ in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

And what our young people want to be reminding themselves, and US, is that being a Christian SHOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE. PRACTICALLY.

And we’ll hear from some of them in a few minutes about what the verse means to them personally.

It’s the idea behind the name of Youth Group. It’s called WIRED. Which stands for WALKING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS EVERY DAY.

If you’re a Christian, there should be REAL, CONCRETE, TANGIBLE differences in your life. Differences people can SEE. Differences EVERY DAY.

Is that how it is with YOU?

12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young/, but SET AN EXAMPLE for the believers/ in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Let’s take a step back, and have a look at the BIGGER PICTURE around this verse. The book 1 Timothy was a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the young leader of the church in Ephesus. He’s TIMOTHY.

It’s a book that’s got lots to say about how to run a church – about what’s important, and what’s not. What things to encourage people in, and what to WARN them about.

And for THAT reason it’s got lots to say to ORDINARY Christians about what’s important in THEIR lives. What matters in church, and in their life OUTSIDE church.

And from chapter 4, there’s THREE BIG IDEAS I want to focus on. They don’t get any BIGGER. You could make them your three-part life motto. And you’d be doing pretty well.

Three biggies for Timothy as he led the Ephesian church. Three biggies for our YOUNG PEOPLE as they work out what it means to live for Jesus in THEIR world. And three biggies for US, as WE live for Jesus in our corners of his world.

So what are they? Here they are:

1. Put your hope in the living God, the Saviour of all men.

2. Train yourself to be godly

3. It’s not all about you.

1. Put your hope in the living God, the Saviour of all men.

Big idea number one. Put your hope in the living God, the Saviour of all men. That’s from v10.

It’s why Paul and Timothy, and all the other church workers, do what they do. It’s what puts the fuel in their tank, and the spring their step. V10, talking about his work.

10(and for this we labor and strive), that (or because) WE HAVE PUT OUR HOPE IN THE LIVING GOD, WHO IS THE SAVIOR OF ALL MEN, and especially of those who believe.

When it comes to leading a church, when it comes to teaching and keeping people safe, and on the right track, and away from danger. If you had to trust in YOUR OWN STRENGTH, you’d go crazy. For Paul, and for Timothy, what keeps them going is that their hope is in the living God who is the Saviour of all men, not in themselves.

It’s hope in the living God that gives them PURPOSE and DIRECTION. They’re not choosing their OWN path. They’re follows God’s priorities and agenda.

It’s hope in the living God that ENCOURAGES them. Without God powerfully changing people as they hear and respond to the gospel, church ministers would be nothing more than hand-holders, social workers, meeting chairmen, and counsellors. Without God actively KEEPING and PROTECTING people, ministry would be a constant discouragement. Of people giving up and falling away.

But God is LIVING and ACTIVE. He changes people, and keeps people, and restores people.

And Paul and Timothy keep proclaiming Jesus to EVERYONE because God is the SAVIOUR of everyone. He doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race or education or sex or age or personalities.

And so, we shouldn’t be surprised that churches are going to LOOK like that. A melting pot of all different sorts of people. A weird mob. A hospital of sick people. Often not the people WE’D choose to hang around with, or to build a church around. But God’s saving ALL SORTS of people, so we put our hope in HIM, not in ourselves.

That’s the FIRST big idea. It puts fuel in your tank, purpose in your step, a reason to get up, and a strength to keep going. And nothing else you put your hope in can SUPPORT you. Put your hope in the LIVING God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN.

2. Train yourself to be godly

Second big idea. What’s it going to LOOK like when you put your hope in the living God? Where does the rubber hit the road? V7. TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE GODLY.

When God SAVES you, he gives you his Spirit. And his goal for you is to become more and more like Jesus. And by his strength you actually are able to MAKE PROGRESS.

It’s Paul’s message to Timothy, and the message Timothy’s to devote his time to delivering. It’s the trustworthy saying of v9 that he’s to labour and strive for. “Train yourself to be godly.”

But the point that’s made again and again in this chapter is that it’s going to take EFFORT. You can’t just sit back and expect God to do all the work.

TRAIN yourself. It’s a bit like PHYSICAL training. You’ve got to put in THE EFFORT if you want to see the RESULTS. No pain, no gain.

Look at the phrases Paul uses:

V10 LABOURING AND STRIVING in his work of leading

V13 DEVOTE yourself to the public reading of Scripture.

V14 DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR GIFT

V15 BE DILIGENT in these matters, give yourself WHOLLY to them.

V16 PERSEVERE in them

Which will mean we shouldn’t be surprised when things get DIFFICULT in our Christian lives. If God WANTS us to be godly. And if training in godliness requires EFFORT and PERSISTENCE and HARD WORK, then we should expect that the Christian LIFE will BE like that.

How do you think God is going to make you PATIENT? By sending you things that will TEST your patience, and STRENGTHEN it. There’ll be people who push all your buttons RIGHT HERE IN CHURCH because God wants you to work hard at PATIENCE.

Or what about self-control? Same thing. You can’t TRAIN yourself in self-control unless there are things that cross your path to TEST your self-control.

Same thing with humility, or faithfulness, or purity. You’ve got to EXERCISE your godliness, PUSH yourself.

And there are GOOD REASONS to do that. Let’s have a look at what this chapter says. WHY train yourself to be godly? Why go to all that effort?

Firstly, because godliness isn’t about stopping fun. That’s there from v4. One of the things the false teachers were teaching was that GODLY Christians didn’t marry, and they didn’t eat certain types of food (there in v3). We don’t know the exact details, but the point is they thought God would be impressed if you STOPPED yourself enjoying certain pleasures. Like food and sex.

But Paul wants to say that’s not what godliness is about AT ALL. V4.

4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

When God made the world, he made everything VERY GOOD. And he ENJOYED it. Same with US. EVERYTHING in the world can be ENJOYED, if it’s done in the right way. If it’s done with a recognition that God’s the one who MADE it, and who deserves the thanks.

Which is great news for our young people. Who are tempted to think they’re MISSING OUT by being Christian. That God’s a cosmic killjoy who wants to STOP their fun. But that’s not true at all. True godliness enjoys all of God’s creation, and gives him the thanks. Which makes it all EVEN BETTER.

Second good reason to work hard at godliness is there in v8. Godliness has value for the present and the future.

8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Physical fitness is SOME use. You’ll live longer, and enjoy life because you’ll have more energy and the ability to do more things. But it doesn’t matter HOW FIT you are, eventually this present life will FINISH. The best diet, and the fittest body in the world can’t stop death.

But godliness, GOD fitness, has benefits for the PRESENT AND the FUTURE. Walking with God and following him makes THIS life better. You enjoy life, because that’s the way God MADE it. But you’re also preparing for your TRUE life. The one you were made for. Eternity. Enjoying God in an undiluted way, with all the barriers and pain and sin and injustice and sickness destroyed.

That’s the SECOND reason to train yourself to be godly.

3. It’s not all about you

Finally, we come to the THIRD big idea from this chapter. It’s not all about you. A good message for teenagers to hear, because that’s often what they think. But we need to hear it just as much. Perhaps we’re just not as OBVIOUS about it.

1 Put your hope in the living God. 2 Train yourself to be godly. 3 It’s not all about you.

God didn’t design Christianity to be for Lone Rangers. Putting your hope in the living God, and training yourself to be godly is a TEAM SPORT, not an individual one.

Look at some of these verses in ch 4.

V5. IF YOU POINT THESE THINGS OUT TO THE BROTHERS, you will be a good minister.

V11. COMMAND AND TEACH these things.

V12 SET AN EXAMPLE for the believers. (that’s the Yth Group verse)

V15. Be diligent in these matters, SO THAT EVERYONE CAN SEE YOUR PROGRESS.

And finally, v16.

16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, YOU WILL SAVE BOTH YOURSELF AND YOUR HEARERS

That last one’s a scary verse for leaders of churches. Our spiritual health, the degree to which we’re growing in hope and godliness is LINKED to the health and growth of the people in our care.

But, in some sense, that’s true for ALL OF US. It’s as I see YOU training yourself to be godly. As I see your hope in the Living God grow in the face of trials and disappointment, that I’m ENCOURAGED TO DO THE SAME.

God uses EVERYONE to play their part. No one is unnecessary. Don’t think you’re not needed, that no one will miss you if you stay home. God can’t do what he wants to do with his church if you don’t come.

And when Timothy was tempted to think he was too young, too insignificant to be any use for God’s church. Paul reminds him. V12

12 DON’T LET ANYONE LOOK DOWN ON YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE YOUNG, but SET AN EXAMPLE for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

And whether you’re young or old, the challenge is the same. Look past your own feelings of inadequacy, of weakness, and set an example. Because people are watching. You mightn’t think so, but they are. Your kids, your parents, your fellow Bible study group members, the people you talk to at morning tea, or invite to lunch. Or DON’T invite to lunch.

And there are five areas Paul mentions. Set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.

And, I think, they’re OVERLAPPING categories. Life is the BIG one. I guess it includes all the others. But perhaps we can narrow it down to setting an example in the GENERAL DIRECTION of your life. In the things you chase. In your priorities. In what motivates you, and in where you get your self-worth.

And Dean’s going to share something of his challenges in this area. ***

Another BIG category is LOVE. Set an example for the believers in LOVE. It’s an area that can really set you apart from those around you. Because the Christian’s love is to be unconditional, and sacrificial, and pure, and other person centred. And it’s to defend the weak. Which is revolutionary in this world. But also incredible ATRACTIVE.

Speech is ANOTHER area that’s really practical when it comes to godliness. And Kelly and Lauren had some thoughts on THAT area. ***

Faith is the next category. In some ways, it seems a bit abstract. How do you set an example in FAITH? But I think our life shows the things we TRUST in VERY obviously. WORRY shows a lack of faith. On the other hand, PRAYER shows faith.

Trusting in yourself, or in your money, or your health, or your job, or importance or influence. All of these things SHOW themselves in actions and attitudes. In the choices we make. In how we go about doing things. Even ministries in church.

What do those things say about YOU?

Instead, Paul says we’re to put our hope in the living God. Set an example in FAITH.

The final category is PURITY. It’s the OPPOSITE of pollution, of staining. It’s the opposite of being influenced by the world. Instead, it’s about the purity of JESUS infecting your life, and then you becoming CONTAGIOUS. The purity of your thoughts and attitudes and motives. The purity of your goals and words. And Matt had a few thoughts on that. ***

I hope you’ve been encouraged by all the different examples you’ve seen this morning.

Pray for our young people. Pray for our leaders. Pray for our church. But more than that. Let me leave you with one final challenge. For those of you who are parents. Did you notice Timothy’s BACKGROUND, there in v6?

6 If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.

Timothy’s faith and ministry were the result of a mother and grandmother who’d shared their faith with him. Who’d TAUGHT him, and SET HIM AN EXAMPLE. And as he’d GROWN, he’d taken on that teaching, and that example for himself. And now he was SETTING it and TEACHING it FOR OTHERS.

Isn’t that the legacy you want to be passing on to your kids? Isn’t that what you want to leave behind?

Do you PRAY for that?

Is THAT more important for you than that your kids do well at school, or have lots of friends, or get into a good Uni course, or have a good job, or have their own happy family. All of that stuff is good.

But it’s NOTHING on the legacy of your kids growing to put their hope in the living God, the Saviour of all men. That they train themselves to be godly, setting an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity.

May God answer prayers LIKE THAT!

1 Timothy 6:3-21: A Wealthy Life

Let me tell you about two Christians.

The first is Richard Semmler. He’s 59 years-old. He’s never married, and lives in tiny flat in Virginia. He drives an old car, and lives frugally – he doesn’t take vacations, or even have a home telephone. He makes extra money writing textbooks.

He doesn’t have much MONEY, but Richard Semmler is an extraordinarily RICH man.

He doesn’t live this way because he HAS TO. What makes him exceptional is that he CHOOSES to.

He teaches calculus and algebra at Northern Virginia Community College. And makes more than $100,000 a year. But for the last 35 years he’s donated around HALF his salary to charity. Last year it was $60,000.

So far, by his count, he’s given away slightly more than $770,000. And his goal is $1 million! Extraordinary!

And he doesn’t just write a cheque. He stays involved with his money. He says “Most of my dollars go to very specific projects, so I know what I’m funding. I want to SEE my dollars at WORK.”

Once a week, and on holidays, he serves dinner at the Central Union Mission, and he offers free math tutoring to clients studying for their high school diploma.

He serves on the board of the Habitat for Humanity chapter in Northern Virginia. And he always helps build the houses he helps fund.

Steve Greene, manager of volunteers for Habitat. Says “He puts his hands where his money goes,”

This guy is committed to seeing his money put to USE. He’s a good steward of all that God’s given him.

And he does it all with a SMILE on his face. Cheerfully, without obligation or resentment. He’s CONTENT! Content with what he has.

That’s TRUE RICHES. That’s true GODLINESS! That’s true LIFE!

The second Christian is Creflo Dollar Jnr. He’s an American tele-evangelist. If you’ve watched any early morning TV you might have caught his show “You can change your world!”.

He wears grey silk suits, drips jewelry, travels in limousines and his own personal lear jet. And makes millions of dollars a year. Dollar by NAME, dollar by NATURE.

And his trademark message is that GOD DOESN’T WANT YOU POOR. Earthly Riches is where God wants Christians to be. Listen to a quote from his website on a webpage titled, “Claim Your Spiritual Birthright”.

“You were made wealthy and rich before you came into existence. You’ve been predestined to prosper financially. According to Ephesians 1:4-5, God chose to bless you before the foundation of the world as EVIDENCE of the holiness and righteousness made available to you through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Your inheritance of wealth and riches is INCLUDED in the “spiritual blessings”. You have EVERY RIGHT to live wealthy, and possess material riches-clothes, jewelry, houses, cars and money- in abundance!

The Bible says that wealth is stored up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22, New American Standard). However, it will remain stored up until you claim it. Therefore, claim it NOW!

You possess the blessing to seize, and command wealth and riches to come to you (Deuteronomy 8:18). Exercise that power by speaking faith-filled words daily and taking practical steps to eradicate debt. Like God, you can speak spiritual blessings into existence (Romans 4:17). Remember, doubt keeps silent, but faith speaks!”

Another extraordinary Christian. But for different reasons!

PROFIT AND RICHES. GODLINESS.

My guess is that if you asked Creflo Dollar and Richard Semmler what they understood by those words you’d get COMPLETELY DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS.

What does it mean to be RICH? What does it mean to be GODLY?

Words can mean different things to different people. “The Eels will smash the Sharks”. Or “The Panthers will kill the Tigers”. Means two completely different things depending on whether you’re a footy fan, or a zoologist.

Words mean different things to different people.

And it’s the same in the passage we’re looking at this morning. 1 Timothy 6. Paul vs the false teachers. And they’re defining THESE SAME WORDS differently. Profit. Riches, Godliness.

We’ve already seen how their understanding of GODLINESS is different. Back in Ch 4, THEY thought godliness looked like ABSTAINING from things. Saying no to food, or alcohol, or marriage. That God would somehow be impressed with your sacrifices.

But Paul says that’s really god-LESS. Real godliness has value for ALL things, holding promise for THE LIFE TO COME. It’s about setting an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity. Every part of your life.

Which is FAR more widespread and comprehensive than just changing your diet.

And here in Ch 6, he takes on the false teachers again. From v3 he talks about how they love quarrels and controversy. That end up in nothing but envy, strife, gossip, and suspicion. Hopeless stuff!

But it’s their attitude to MONEY that he zooms in on. Look at the end of v5. “They’ve been robbed of the truth, and think that GODLINESS IS A MEANS TO FINANCIAL GAIN.”

They reckon there’s PROFIT TO BE MADE in teaching godliness. Peddling spiritual pearls for pennies. Something Creflo Dollar could say AMEN to!

But Paul wants to REDEFINE what they mean by profit AND godliness. Look there in v6.

6 But GODLINESS with CONTENTMENT IS great gain.

In one sense he’s AGREEING with them. There IS profit in godliness. But not in the way the false teachers understand it.

And so, for the rest of the chapter, he explains what the RIGHT way of understanding GODLINESS is, and PROFIT. And CONTENTMENT.

Earthly Riches

For the false teachers of Paul’s time, and for people today like Creflo Dollar, there was a close connection between GODLINESS and MATERIAL, earthly, WEALTH. Money in the bank means God’s BLESSING you. It’s a sign of your GODLINESS.

But Paul sees three problems with this view of PROFIT. Let’s look at them together.

1. Don’t last

One. Earthly riches don’t last. You don’t need to be an Einstein to work that one out. Look at it there in v7. It’s a well-known saying.

7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

No matter HOW wealthy he was, a corpse can’t spend money.

A body in a $3000 suit is still dead.

A $1000 coffin stays in the ground just as well as a $20,000 one.

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” It might be a well-known saying. And it might be OBVIOUS. But it doesn’t mean people LISTEN to it.

We mightn’t fill our graves with treasures like the Egyptian pyramids. But we might as well. We spent our whole life accumulating STUFF, just so we can pass it on to our kids, or throw it out. Or see it rust, or burn, or break, or get lost.

It’s fool’s gold. It’s chasing a mirage.

It’s a truth King Charlemagne, for all his riches, knew. It was the message he took to his grave.

It was 800 AD. Charlemagne, was king of France. He seemed to have everything. According to one of his closest assistants, “He was six feet four inches tall, and built to scale. He had blond hair, animated eyes… a presence ‘always stately and dignified.’”

Charlemagne went to Rome on Christmas Day in a.d. 800. There in a church, dressed in his best imperial purple, he received the name “Charles the Great.” While kneeling before the altar, the Pope took the imperial crown and placed it upon Charlemagne’s head, hailing him the sixty-eighth Emperor of Rome.

But in AD 814 he became ill at the age of seventy-two, and died within a week.

He had, however, made all of his last arrangements with meticulous care. At his request, he was buried in the vault of the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle. His body was dressed in imperial purple and seated upon a throne inside the vault.

With a crown on his head, a scepter in his hand, a sword by his side, and an open Bible on his knees, the great Emperor sat in all of his glory, and the vault was closed and sealed.

Until 997, nearly 200 years later. When a German emperor had the vault opened. He was after the crown, scepter and sword. Charlemagne’s body was found just as had he had requested. And, there, on his lap was the open Bible Charlemagne had requested.

But it wasn’t opened to a random passage. One bony finger pointed to Matthew 16:26 “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? (NIV)”

Charlemagne lived, and died, with the truth that we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Earthly riches don’t last.

2. Leads to temptations

The second problem Paul sees with chasing riches is that it leads to TEMPTATIONS. It’s there in v9.

People who WANT to get rich FALL INTO TEMPTATION and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

It’s a devious trap – that more THINGS/ will give you more STABILITY, or success, or comfort, or happiness, or acceptance, or approval. And so the desire to get RICH means your tempted to be GREEDY, or to COVET, or to worship IDOLS, or to be SELFISH.

All harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

But that’s not all. Look what Paul goes on to say in v10.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have WANDERED FROM THE FAITH and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Loving money and riches can EVEN lead to people giving up on being Christian. Desire for those things is BAD NEWS.

3. Arrogance

The third reason Paul says that chasing riches is wrong is that it leads to ARROGANCE. Look down to v17. He’s talking to those Christians who ARE rich.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be ARROGANT nor to PUT THEIR HOPE in wealth, which is so UNCERTAIN, but to put their hope in GOD.

When you’ve got plenty of things around you, it’s easy to trust THEM, rather than God. For the focus to be ALL ON YOU. To be ARROGANT.

You see it in Kerry Packer. He walked into a golf club in Queensland recently, and the girl at the front desk didn’t know him. And he said to her, I want to play golf here. So make me a member. Now.”

It was an exclusive sort of club. And membership cost thousands of dollars. He pulled the money out of his wallet and he waved it around. But she just politely told him it wasn’t possible; that membership applications took some time to process. And he’d have to come back the next week.

Well, what do you reckon he did? You see, if you’re Kerry Packer, people just don’t treat you that way. So he demanded to see the manager. Who bowed and scraped and apologised. And made him an honorary member on the spot. I don’t know what happened to the girl at the desk. She was probably out looking for a job the next day.

But there’s that sort of arrogance you see from people who reckon they’ve made it. They’re wealthy. And that means you’ve got to treat them DIFFERENTLY to everybody else.

Arrogance is the attitude that says I’m a cut above everyone else. And that’s the way I expect to be treated.

And it’s no wonder the first thing Paul says to wealthy Christians, is GET RID OF YOUR ARROGANCE. And replace it with the same sort of godly humility that every Christian’s meant to have.

It’s all these sorts of results that come from wanting to get rich. From the love of money. Things which are the complete OPPOSITE of what’s expected from God’s people.

2. Flee, pursue, fight, take hold.

Which is why it’s no wonder Paul gives some pretty strong commands to Timothy. Look at the sorts of things he says from v11.

11 But you, man of God, FLEE from all this, and PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.   12 FIGHT the good fight of the faith. TAKE HOLD of the eternal life to which you were called

This is an ACTIVE, DETERMINED, PURPOSEFUL CHOICE. To turn your back on ONE sort of riches. And to PURSUE the OTHER sort.

Pursue TRUE riches

So what’s the alternative? What does this sort of lifestyle LOOK LIKE? This fleeing riches, and pursuing godliness?

Well, it looks a lot like Richard Semmler. His life is A LIVING ILLUSTRATION of Verses 6-8.

6 But GODLINESS with CONTENTMENT is GREAT GAIN. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have FOOD AND CLOTHING, we will be CONTENT with that.

Each day, each PAYCHECK, Richard Semmler makes the choice of whether he’s going to chase FINANCIAL gain, or the GREAT GAIN that comes with godly contentment. Trusting in THINGS, or trusting in God. FINANCIAL security, or ETERNAL security.

His life reflects the truth that GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT is GREAT GAIN.

How are you DOING at that? How CONTENT are you? How do you FEEL about the things you’ve got? What things do you WANT to get at the moment?

If you’re NOT content, what would it take for you to be content? Would MORE MONEY do it?

DON’T FALL INTO THAT TRAP! God reckons there’s lots of things more money would DO for you, but making you more content isn’t one of them?

GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT is GREAT GAIN.

What’s GOD’s view of how to build contentment into your life?

Let’s look at each of those aspects in turn. (Godliness, contentment, great gain). And see what it would take for OUR LIFE to reflect that truth.

GODLINESS

Firstly, GODLINESS. Look at v11. A man of God should FLEE from the traps of wealth, and pursue righteousness, GODLINESS, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.

The things of GOD are the treasures to be chasing. Not the things of earth.

Do you VALUE them? Are they a pearl of great price/ that’s worth selling everything you have that you might own it? That’s the sort of language Jesus uses.

And the rubber hits the road down in v17. To FLEE these things means to NOT put your hope IN WEALTH. Instead, pursue God. PUT YOUR HOPE in God.

Valuing and Pursuing the THINGS of God/ comes down to valuing and pursuing GOD HIMSELF.

Put your hope in God. TRUST HIM as the one who knows what he’s doing. Trust your today, and your tomorrow, into his hands. Trust that he knows you better than you know yourself, and LOVES you enough to work all things for your good.

To NOT be CONTENT – to NOT put your hope in God – is really a lack of FAITH. It’s DOUBTING God.

And look at how Paul describes the God we are to put our hope in. V17. “He RICHLY PROVIDES us with everything for our ENJOYMENT”. That’s the truth to hold on to when we’re tempted to covet, or greedy, or not to be content.

With Contentment

Paul goes on to describe what that sort of attitude of contentment, and trust in God, will LOOK LIKE. Look at v18.

18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

When we’ve learned the truth that God richly provides for us for our enjoyment, then we’re FREED to use our wealth for HIM.

A content person is freed to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

For some rich people a Rolls Royce is the status symbol. The sign that you’ve finally arrived. But when it comes to a Christian, OUR status symbol is to be our generosity and willingness to share. THAT’S the mark of godliness with contentment. That’s the mark of them “having arrived”.

Is GREAT GAIN (19)

Finally. What’s the great gain Paul says comes from being contently godly? The great profit that comes when you’re living with your hope put firmly in the God who richly provides?

It’s right there in v19.

19 In this way they will LAY UP TREASURE for themselves as A FIRM FOUNDATION FOR THE COMING AGE, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

A life of godly contentment. A life lived in generosity and willingness to share. Will result in laying up treasure in the world to come. Building rewards in heaven.

And when THIS life is lived with an eye on THAT life, then you understand what TRUE riches are. What’s WORTH CHASING.

In fact, more than that, you understand what TRUE LIFE is. Look at what Paul says there at the end of v19. Laying up treasure for the coming age is about taking hold of the life that is TRULY LIFE. REAL life.

That’s what eternal life is. (The life of eternity). It’s REAL life. The life we were DESIGNED for. The life which is our GOAL, our DESTINY, our FUTURE. Life where the riches of good deeds and generosity mean FAR MORE than cash or jewels.

Dwell on this verse this week. Mull it over. Roll it around like a boiled lolly. Plumb the depths of it. Let God speak to you through it. And change you.

And begin to live it out.

Godliness/ with contentment/ is great gain.