Order in the Church – A Passion for Truth, 1 Timothy 1:12-20

17 Jun

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. When Paul wrote this marvelous book, he apparently recognized the importance of credibility before he offered his instructions to a community facing change. He pauses to give his own autobiography and express thanksgiving for what God had done in his life.

This paragraph is a synopsis of Paul’s entire career as we know it from Acts 9. He knew that only an extraordinary event could turn his life around…he knew the change that had taken place in his life!

The good news of the gospel is that God has the power to transform lives. History abounds with stories of dramatic conversions that testify to that fact.

The Bible records the conversions of the despised tax collector and traitor to his people Matthew, blind Bartimaeus, the adulterous Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, the Roman centurion at the crucifixion, Cornelius, the Ethiopian eunuch, the Philippian jailer, and Lydia, among others.

But of all the conversions ever recorded none was more remarkable than that of Saul of Tarsus. This bitter enemy of the cause of Christ, in his own words the foremost of all sinners, became the greatest evangelist the world has ever seen.

Paul never lost the wonder that God could and did redeem someone like him. He viewed himself as the supreme example of God’s saving grace.

Paul shows that a proper use of the plan brings conviction of sin and the need of grace. It contrasts the glory of the true gospel with the emptiness of false doctrine.

When God wanted to use Paul, “he had to knock him off his horse.” Paul knew precisely what had changed his life, and he could sum it up in a single phrase: “Christ came into the world to save sinners.”

When do we begin talking to people about God, Christ, the Bible, salvation, church? Do we avoid sin and its consequences? Immorality, pornography, drunkenness, judgment, hell etc., are sensitive issues…downplay them for a long time and put my emphasis on the abundant life Christ offers here and now? This methodology… doesn’t square with a number of Scriptures. Also, it struck me as being a lot like good salesmanship, where you try not to say anything to turn off the potential customer. 2

And, some of the people who “bought the product” didn’t seem much concerned with holy living. They were more caught up with having a happy life. For them, Jesus was not so much essential as He was useful, in terms of helping them to enjoy a better life.

The more I read some of the great evangelists in scripture, the more I realized that this approach didn’t square with how they presented the gospel.

Their message wasn’t so much, “If you’d like a bit happier life, try Jesus.” It was rather, “Because of your great sin, you’re under God’s wrath. You must repent and trust in Christ through baptism for remission of sins. They pled with people to flee to Christ with a lot more urgency than the modern ‘salesman’ with his low-key approach: “Try Jesus for just 30 days and see if you aren’t totally satisfied.”

People who are not convicted of their sin and who do not realize their own utter inability to meet God’s holy standard by their own efforts are not desperate for what God offers through the gospel.

By not preaching God’s holy Plan, we’ve given self-righteous, contented people the false impression that they can be casual shoppers toward the gospel when, in fact, their condition is desperate.

Paul could never forget that he was a forgiven sinner; but neither could he ever forget that he was a sinner in need of a Savior. Why should he remember his sin with such vividness?

(1) The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep him from pride. There could be no such thing as spiritual pride for a man who had done the things that he had done.

(2) The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep his gratitude aflame. To remember what we have been forgiven is the surest way to keep awake our love to Jesus Christ. When we remember how we have hurt God and hurt those who love us and hurt our fellow-men and when we remember how God and men have forgiven us, that memory must awake the flame of gratitude within our hearts.

(3) The memory of his sin was the constant urge to greater effort. It is quite true that a man can never earn the blessings of God, or deserve His love; but it is also true that he can never stop trying to do something to show how much he appreciates the love and the mercy which have made him what he is.

(4) The memory of his sin was bound to be a constant encouragement to others. Paul uses a vivid picture. He says that what happened to him was a kind of outline-sketch of what was going to happen to those who would accept Christ in the days to 3

come. The word he uses is hupotuposis which means an outline, a sketch-plan, a first draft, a preliminary model.

It is as if Paul were saying, “Look what Christ has done for me! If someone like me can be saved, there is hope for everyone.”

What Paul became 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV) I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.

1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV) 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.

The grace of God turned the persecutor into a preacher, and the murderer into a minister and a missionary! So dramatic was the change in Paul’s life that the Jerusalem church suspected that it was a trick, and they had a hard time accepting him (Acts 9:26-31).

What makes a church survive? One may argue that the church survives from one generation to another by being relevant and by discussing the topics that are of most interest to others. This argument has some merit.

One of Karl Barth’s most memorable comments is that one needs to preach “with the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other.” His comment is a reminder that communication involves addressing people in the context of their own questions.

When we recognize the importance of this central truth to Paul’s life, we may wonder why today’s church becomes preoccupied with issuesthat seem trivial by contrast with the fact that “Christ came into the world to save sinners.”

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NIV) “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. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. {20} Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”

A spiritual warfare is being fought for the minds and souls of people. The people of God are to be right in the middle of the conflict. He is God’s instrument to teach men—to teach them the way to God and righteousness. If God’s people do not fight and struggle to lead others to God, then literally millions of souls will perish without ever knowing the way to God—without ever knowing that a person can actually live forever in the presence of God.

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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Church, Sermon


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