Wage the good war!

1 Timothy 1:18-20

Wage the good war!

 

We are a church on a mission: For the glory of God to build the church both local and global. We seek to do this by being and, by God’s grace, producing radical followers of Jesus Christ.

 

We say these radical followers of Jesus are people who are in communion with God. These people have been are in communion with God because the glorious gospel of the blessed God has regenerated them to life, given them faith, they have repented and believed, been justified, are in the process of being sanctified and will be glorified. These people are saints who are like branches that intimately remain in the vine of Christ and receive all of the life giving nutrients of the vine. Jesus is our life and he is our joy. Jesus produces gives to us a multitude of needs that produce all kinds of fruit.

 

These branches in the vine are not alone in the vine. We who are in communion with Jesus Christ dwell in community. We are in community with each other. Why? Because that is just what branches in the vine do. We are kin. We are the same. We have the same Holy Spirit coursing through our spiritual veins. We are united and our desires are for Christ and for each other with ourselves being last.

 

These braches in community with each other are also producing fruit that looks like the vine we are a part of. Our Vine, Jesus, is the King of the universe. Our King has come to restore all things from the rebellion that took place in his garden and set right all of the counteracting effects of the curse. This fruit we produce collides with the cursed culture of rebellion causing us to have to remain in the Vine and feed on him and rely on him to make his fruit of colliding happen and rely on other braches to do what we can’t do by the Vine’s supply.

 

This mission we live is a mission that is a fight. To glorify Jesus, who was rebelled against in the garden, and is being rebelled against today, is not easy. To take on this mission where we are (locally) and also to attempt to obey Jesus and take the war global (to all nations) is impossible, except that Jesus said he had all authority in heaven and earth given to him, therefore, to go do it.

 

Timothy had this same mission. It’s the mission of the global church. Paul exhorts Timothy, in this mission, in chapter 1, verses 18-20 that this is the good warfare. We are at war.

 

Paul tells this church at Ephesus: “…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, having done all, to stand firm. Stand, therefore, having fastened the belt of truth, and have put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:10-18a)

 

In this war, we will have difficulty. Jesus told us in Matthew 13:24-30 that there are weeds sown by the enemy among the wheat. Jesus himself, the great Vine, had a weed named Judas among his counsel.

 

The war not only rages without, but it rages within too. Jesus told us that the enemy has done this, and Jesus has allowed him to do it.

 

Paul tells Timothy to wage this war. Therefore, he tells us to wage this war too.

 

Before we go further, let me make clear that this is a war to be waged by the pastors/elders/overseers among themselves, the congregation AND it is a war that the people must engage in among themselves.

 

1. We must wage the good war v. 18

A. What is the good warfare?

1. Holding faith and a good conscience v. 19a

a. Holding faith

 

“Each local church is in a constant battle against the forces of evil. There are false prophets and false teachers, as well as false christs. Satan is the originator of false doctrines, for he is a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). It is not enough for a local church to teach sound doctrine and to proclaim the Gospel. The church must also defend the faith by exposing lies and opposing the doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1).”[1]

 

1. One cannot hold the faith if they have not believed the

gospel

2. One cannot hold the faith if they do not obey

a. Leviticus 9:23b-24 – they saw the Lord’s glory

and were brought to humble / fearful worship yet

they would not listen and obey in the near future

 

b. Holding a good conscience

 

Conscience is the cumulative effect of the entire biblical narrative on ones application of that narrative’s truth in their specific situation.

 

Conscience is not opinion formed into convictions.

 

Non-Christians have a conscience, but it is the result of being an image bearer not the result of a transformed image bearer now informed by the truth of the entire biblical narrative.

 

There will be times when consciences don’t agree. How do we handle that?

 

Romans 14 is the model.

 

When consciences don’t agree we follow the model of Romans 14 and unify in love for each other with no pressure on the other to cave on their conscience (but we must be sure it’s a conscience issue not a truth issue we just don’t want to conform to). We will always run up on issues in the body where we have to search the Scriptures. On some of these issues we will find clear mandates, and some will have circumstances that are unique and truth demands certain outcomes for one and not for another due to fellowship and the faith of others. On some issues we will find room for liberty of conscience. Where we find liberty for conscience we will allow for such without whisper or hurting or condemning the faithful obedience of Holy Spirit led conscience for that person. We will be in Romans 14 unity because that mandate for conscience and unity is clear.

 

1. One cannot hold a good conscience in ignorance.

2. One cannot hold a good conscience while complaining.

3. One cannot hold a good conscience while whispering

about others.

4. One cannot hold a good conscience if they assume. They

must know and seek to know.

 

B. How was Timothy to wage this warfare?

1. According to his gifting/calling v. 18

“…in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…”

 

2. By not waging war we will shipwreck our faith v. 19b

The shift of metaphor from a fight to that of a shipwreck is sad and disturbing. The implication is that there is a war and there are some who loose badly.

 

“Paul did not tell us exactly what they did, except that their sin involved “blaspheming” in some way. Hymenaeus said that the resurrection was already past (2 Tim. 2:16–18). Alexander was a popular name in that day, so we cannot be sure that the man named in Paul’s next letter to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:14) is the same man; but if he is, no doubt he withstood Paul by teaching false doctrine.”[2]

 

A. We must adhere to the text even if it is to our own hurt

1. Psalm 15

O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?

Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

 

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right

and speaks truth in his heart;

and does no evil to his neighbor,

nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

in whose eyes a vile person is despised,

but who honors those who fear the Lord;

who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

who does not put out his money at interest

and does not take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

 

2. 1 Samuel 15:22

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

 

B. Suffering in this life due to following Jesus is worth Kingdom reward

1. Matthew 19:23-30

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

 

C. Submitting to text driven leadership guards the conscience

1. No one is a lone ranger, we are a fellowship on mission together

 

3. Those who shipwreck their faith are handed over to Satan v. 20

“Delivered unto Satan” (1 Tim. 1:20) implies an apostolic discipline (see 1 Cor. 5:5) and disassociation from the local church. The verb “learn” (1 Tim. 1:20) means “to learn by discipline.” When a Christian refuses to repent, the local fellowship should exercise discipline, excluding him from the protective fellowship of the saints, making him vulnerable to the attacks of Satan. The fellowship of the local church, in obedience to the will of God, gives a believer spiritual protection. Satan has to ask God for permission to attack a believer (see Job 1–2; Luke 22:31–34).”[3]

 

Paul assumes that the church exercises church discipline. Paul assumes we understand the necessity for corporate holiness. We must not assume it does not matter. That would be to  believe deceitful spirits.

 

A. Church discipline is love (perhaps we misunderstand discipline)

1. Discipline is training

2. Matthew 18:15-20

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

 

a. Jesus promises to be present, ruling the proceedings, when

we train for holiness!

 

 


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 214.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 213–214.

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 214.

What the gospel of glory does to those who behold that glory

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Paul, an example of beholding the gospel of the glory of the blessed God

 

“There is embedded in the heart of this present passage one of the great gospel texts of the apostolic church and of the Reformation. The words of that text are familiar to many: ‘the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.’ (1:15). This single sentence has been used to encourage countless souls on their way to Christ. It stands as a front piece to the English Reformation because of its effect upon Thomas Bilney, the early Reformation martyr.

 

Thomas Bilney, known as ‘little Bilney’ due to his diminutive stature, was born in 1495. Because he had a scholarly bent, he studied law at Cambridge, becoming a fellow of Trinity Hall in 1520. But neither study nor ordination brought him to peace. Then he began to read the Latin translation of Erasmus’s Greek New Testament, and as Bilney described it:

‘I chanced upon this sentence of St. Paul (O most sweet and comfortable sentence to my soul!) in 1 Timothy 1. ‘It is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief and principal.’ This one sentence, through God’s instruction and inward working…did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that even immediately I seemed unto myself inwardly to feel a marvelous comfort and quietness, insomuch that ‘my bruised bones leaped for joy’ (Psalm 51). After this, the Scripture began to be more pleasant unto me than the honey or the honeycomb…. (quoted by Hughes and Chapell from John Stott in Guard the truth in a block quote from their commentary on 1 Timothy)

 

Bilney immediately became a central figure in a group of theologians who met at the famous White Horse Inn, which stood on what is now the corner of King’s Parade and Rose Crescent in Cambridge. And there his group prepared for the Reformation in England. Bilney was arrested in 1527 and was forced to recant. But little Bilney couldn’t contain himself and set off preaching again in 1531. He was again arrested, then tried and burned at the stake. His most famous convert, Hugh Latimer, who became the most prominent preacher of the English Reformation, was inspired by Bilney’s courage and reverently referred to him in his sermons as ‘St. Bilney.’ Latimer, too, died at the stake, in Oxford in 1555.

 

What a monumental effect 1 Timothy 1:15 has had! And well it should, for it gives us the gospel in miniature. There is no doubt whatsoever that it can make ‘bruised bones’ leap for joy.”[1]

 

What we have in this gospel of the glory of the blessed God transforms sinners into saints.

 

Paul, who is writing this letter of instruction to Timothy (and therefore, to the whole church) is the example given at the outset of the letter as a display of what the gospel of glory accomplishes.

 

Let’s take a look at (in some measure, particularly in Paul and for the church at Ephesus) 1) what the gospel of glory accomplishes, 2) how the gospel accomplishes what it does and 3) why (in some measure) the gospel accomplishes what it does and finally 4) the particular fruit of the gospel of glory in Paul’s words to this pastor and the congregation.

 

1. What does the gospel of glory accomplish? v. 12-14

A. The gospel of glory births the Church and all the churches that make it up (All of 1 Timothy)

 

Paul is writing to the “church” at Ephesus and, by grace, to all churches who are truly the church doing the church’s work.

 

The gospel births the Church and by default, the Church does gospel work, which is establishing more churches within the scope of the Church, which is the whole earth.

 

1. Communion with God

2. Community

3. Collision with culture

 

B. The gospel of glory transforms sinners into saints v. 13

“…though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent…”

“…But I received mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief…”

1. Paul’s identity was not what he used to be, rather his identity is what he

was transformed to be

a. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

2. This gospel of glory releases us from our pre-Christ failures

 

C. The gospel of glory overflows with the grace of love and faith v. 14

 

Father gives to us his love and the gift of faith and then requires us to love and live by faith.

 

As much as Paul is an example of what Father can do for a sinner, Paul serves as an example of what real saints are contrasted with those who follow after silly myths and endless genealogies and make a shipwreck of their faith (1:19).

 

1. Those who shipwrecked their faith needed more than the gospel (sarcasm) and very simply refused to believe what was written. Their appetite was for this world (1 John 2:15

– 17)

a. These wander into vain discussions 1:6

b. These are not submissive 2:11

c. These devote themselves to deceitful spirits 4:1

d. These are more concerned with their temporal existence 4:8

e. These neglect their family 5:3-16

f. These have an unhealthy craving for controversy (drama) and quarrels 6:4

g. These are driven by wanting more money 6:9-10

 

2. Paul had his worldview rocked by the gospel and wrote things like:

a. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

1. Paul’s harsh hardships are viewed as momentary and light

(from eternity’s perspective)

2. Paul views hardships as preparing him for the eternal weight of

glory (he is being trained to take in full glory)

3. Paul looks to the unseen not the seen

 

D. The gospel of glory takes saints and makes them servants to the Great Cause of Christ v. 12

 

2. How does the gospel of glory accomplish its great work? v. 15

A. Jesus came to save sinners v. 15

 

Jesus comes to save sinners. You see, we were born with Adam’s name. We had the guilt and stain of Adam imputed to us due to the fall. Yet, Jesus, the creator (Col 1:15-16) comes and takes on flesh and he does the most amazing thing. He dies in our place for our sin and rises that he may justify us! Forgiveness is only half of the work of salvation. Jesus wipes us clean then he credits to us his perfection.

 

I cannot nor will I ever get past the glorious doctrine of justification. Justification is the instantaneous legal act of God in which he thinks of our sins as forgiven and then imputing, fully, completely, all together giving to us Christ’s righteousness and declaring us to be righteous in his sight.

 

1. We no longer have to believe in Karma. What goes around will never come around!

2. Life’s difficulties are never God getting even for that thing we did. Rather, our good

Father graciously prunes our deadness off in order to make us more fruitful. He will

never get even. We are even! He just prunes me for my good and his glory.

3. I don’t have to work to get Father’s favor. I have it perfectly and therefore I work

because I can’t help it. Fruit just happens!

 

3. Why does the gospel of glory do its marvelous work? v. 16

A. To put the Father’s perfect patience on display in saving the worse case as easily as the less

worse case v. 16

 

 

4. What fruit does the gospel of glory produce in Paul in this text? v. 17

A. Doxology – praise! v. 17

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever. Amen.”

1. To – Paul is addressing his worship to the Lord

2. King of the ages – Paul acknowledges who is in control and what he is in control over

3. Immortal – Paul acknowledges that the King is not a human king, but The King who

has no beginning and no end, the end all and be all…

4. Invisible – Paul acknowledges that his King is greater than what the unregenerate eye

can behold. He is seen by faith.

5. The Only God – Paul Acknowledges that there is no other allegiance. No other God.

6. Be – Paul is now exulting…his direction is set…he is pointed in the right place…his

heart is set on the Lord

7. Honor – Paul exults deference, respect and service for

8. Glory – Paul reflects, in all his image bearing, glory back to its source in words,

emotions, actions, and a million unmentionable glories

 

 

 


[1] Kent Hughes, Bryan Chapell, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2000), p. 41-42.

It is well with my soul…

With so much weather getting in the way of actually teaching, I figured I’d throw a little teaching on you from one of my favorite pastor/scholars, Martyn Lloyd-Jones. This sermon is printed in a great little book called “Setting Our Affections Upon Glory”, a compilation of sermons on the Gospel and the church, by Dr. Lloyd-Jones. I’d suggest looking it up. You can get a pdf version to pop up on your computer if you google it.

Here is an excerpt for you from a sermon my Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones called “The Acid Test”. The sermon is an exposition of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 as the measure of what makes a Christian. Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives three options as acid tests and then shows how the option comes up short in displaying true Christianity. Those three options he gives are orthodoxy, moral behavior and experience. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then begins to deal with Paul’s words to the Corinthians in his second correspondence, chapter 4 and verses 17-18.

Read the passage I’ve typed up for you below and the excerpt from the sermon I have provided for you. I have italicized and underlined some key thoughts at the end. Those highlights of the text belong to me and not Dr. Lloyd-Jones.

Since many of us are “home bound” due to weather, perhaps some spiritual stimulation may prove to be a soul-satisfying endeavor.

May the Lord’s grace and peace be abundant to you regardless of circumstance. He has taught us to say, “it is well with my soul.”

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV)

“Now this, to me, is most important because, unless I am very greatly mistaken, large numbers of people in the Christian church today are confusing Stoicism with Christianity. We certainly saw a great deal of Stoicism in England, and in London, during World War II. For that rea- son I was constantly preaching on this theme. We had a slogan: “London can take it.Let the Germans come and bomb us, London can take it. But I want to show you that Stoicism is the exact opposite of Christianity, that it has nothing to do with it. Why is that? Because there is this great difference: the philosophy of Stoicism is the philosophy of resignation. It is the philosophy of putting up with it, taking it, simply standing and refusing to give in. Stoicism is negative, whereas the very essence of Christianity is that it is positive. Christians are not people who are just bearing with things and putting up with them. They are triumphing. They are exulting. They are “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37).

Let me make this point plain and clear by quoting to you two pieces of poetry, one of them an expression of the philosophy of Stoicism, the other an expression of the true Christian position. Look at Stoicism first. Here are a few lines from the English poet John Dryden, who I think has given the perfect expression to the philosophy of Stoicism. This is how he puts it:

Since every man who lives is born to die,

And none can boast sincere felicity,

With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,

Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care. Like pilgrims to th’ appointed place we tend; The world’s an inn, and death the journey’s end.

That is perfect Stoicism. “Every man who lives is born to die.” That is a profound observation, and the trouble with most people in the world today is that they never realize that. That is why they get so terrified when they hear warnings about hurricanes and tornadoes. They never think of death. They assume they are going to live in this world forever. But the Stoic has thought. He has faced the facts. “Every man who lives is born to die.” And then Dryden goes on to say, “And none can boast sincere felicity,” by which he means that there is no such thing in this world as sincere, unmixed felicity or happiness. There is nobody who is perfectly happy. There is always a fly in the ointment, always something lacking. So what do you do about it? And here is the answer: “With equal mind.” It is the philosophy of balance, the philosophy of discipline, of control, the philosophy of maintaining an even keel: “what happens, let us bear, nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.” If you want to be happy in this world and to go through it triumphantly, says the Stoic, you must control your feelings. Never be too happy because you never know what is coming around the corner. But, on the other hand, he says, never be too unhappy: “Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.” Keep yourself under control. This was the philosophy of Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby School in England, who popularized the nineteenth-century school ethos of “the little gentle- man” who curbs his feelings, holds them in, never shows them.

“Nor joy nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.” Why? Well, says Dryden, it comes to this: “Like pilgrims to th’ appointed place we tend.” What is life? It is a pilgrimage. We are a body of pilgrims, and we are moving on; you cannot go back. And there is the pressure of the crowd behind us. We are being pushed on day by day. What is the world? Dryden says it is a sort of “inn,” a kind of hotel in which you stay over- night and pay your bill in the morning and go on. “The world’s an inn, and death the journey’s end.” That is it. A life of trouble, of toils and problems and difficulties, things battering you and beating upon you. If you exercise great courage and iron will, you will get through it, but at the end there is only death. That is the end, and there is no more. But stand up to it. Do not give in. Do not whimper and cry. Hold yourself in check. That was Stoicism.

I am trying to show you that what the apostle says here is not Stoicism. It is, as I have said, the exact opposite. So I quote now from a second piece of poetry, written by a man named H. G. Spafford, who lived in the city of Chicago in the nineteenth century. Spafford was a successful and wealthy attorney. Moreover, he was a fine Christian man with a wife and four daughters. One year it was decided that Mrs. Spafford and the girls should pay a visit to Europe, to be joined later by Mr. Spafford, who was not able to leave with them. He took them, I think it was to Boston, and saw them board the ship. There he stood, and he bade farewell to them. He stood on the quayside watching the ship going out to sea until at last it disappeared over the horizon, and he went home. Later he received a cable with the news that the ship bearing Mrs. Spafford and the girls had collided with another ship in the mid- Atlantic, and in just a few moments she had sunk. The four girls were drowned. Mrs. Spafford, almost by a miracle, was saved, put on another ship, and eventually landed in Cardiff, Wales. When she arrived, she sent her husband this cable: “Saved alone. What shall I do?”

Poor Mr. Spafford. Here is a Christian man, and he gets this tragic cable. Two years before that shipwreck, something else had happened to him. All his wealth was in real estate, but in 1871 there was a great fire in Chicago, the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed much of the city. In one afternoon Mr. Spafford became a poor man. He lost every- thing in that fire—his money, home, his positions—and was reduced to poverty. And now he receives a cable telling him that he has lost his four darling daughters. How did he react? Did he say, “Well, I mustn’t give in. I mustn’t cry. I mustn’t whimper. I must be courageous. I must brace myself. I must take it. I’m going to put up with it. I’ll use all my powers to play the man in spite of everything”? Was that it? Dear me, no. This is what that Christian man did. He sat down and he wrote these words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Do you see the difference? “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way.” That is all right. We can all be happy on vacation. We can all say wonderful things when the sun is shining. But wait a minute. “When sorrows like sea billows roll” and rob me of my four dear daughters and everything, “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.” Stoicism? No, no, a thousand times no! This is exultation. This is victory. He is more than a conqueror over everything that faces him. This is exactly as we read in 2 Corinthians 4: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This is Christianity. But what explains this? What made the apostle capable of using such language? It was simply that he was a Christian, not because he was the great apostle Paul. The grand story of the Christian church throughout the centuries is that thousands upon thousands of unknown Christians have been able to speak like this. You have never heard of them, but they were Christians, as Paul was a Christian.

The gospel of glory

1 Timothy 1:11

The gospel of glory

 

In the Garden, Adam and Eve got distracted from glory (they had face to face fellowship with God) and began paying attention to a lie and a tree.

 

The lie was that somehow this glorious God was holding out on them by keeping them from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “He knows you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

 

The devastating consequence of the decision to eat from the forbidden tree has caused us to be born into sin and rebellion, into Adam. We bear Adam’s nature and guilt and therefore, we bear Adam’s name (see Romans 5).

 

Apart from being awakened by the glorious regenerating work of the Spirit through the preaching and hearing of the Gospel, we remain dead in Adam.

 

In our dead state we are blind to truth and we produce the fruit of the world system (desires of the eyes, desires of the flesh and pride in possessions). We believe the wrong things and we act on the wrong things.

 

Now, having believed the gospel we are now alive. We have been resurrected by the work of the Spirit through the preaching of this glorious law-agreeing gospel of the blessed God and we have beheld glory in this gospel and it has saved us and given us a new life altogether.

 

The challenge is that we have remnants of sin in us and the Father is graciously pruning those off, but we have the tendency to be distracted by plausible sounding arguments and philosophy according to human tradition and the elemental spirits and by teachings based on speculations from endless myths and genealogies.

 

These off base teachings captivate our sinful tendencies and cause us to stop gazing at glory and start gazing at inferior things that really just destroy and lead astray.

 

This is why Paul tells Timothy to charge certain persons to not teach any different doctrine. Those who hold to something other than the gospel of the glory of the blessed God make a shipwreck of their faith (1:19b).

 

Paul’s chief concern (with the church at Ephesus as he wrote to Timothy) was that the life-style and testimony of a Christian aid in the spread of the gospel concerning Jesus. The false teachers in Ephesus had given their energies to many enticing replacements for the gospel. That trend had to stop![1]

 

I would argue that much of evangelical Christianity in the west is full of enticing replacements for the glory of God in Jesus Christ and therefore, God is boring to us and expendable. Probably tipping our hand that we have never really beheld the glory of God in Jesus Christ and therefore not really Christians.

 

Father is anything but boring. This is the wildest ride. Following Jesus scares the mess out of me and yet attracts me to the risk in an irresistible way.

 

Not boring!

 

So, Paul makes this glorious transition from laying out the purpose of the law with verse 11, “…in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”

 

As I shared with you last week, this verse did a number on me. I had to jettison my notes on it and even as I taught through it the work of the Lord was ongoing.

 

This is how the Lord works in me though. I’ll go weeks and sometimes months with seemingly no overt “activity” and he’ll do something like that which is soul-quaking and then follow it up with aftershocks of little glories that inaugurate a new bit of growth in this branch of a soul.

 

These moments are fruit that come from abiding in Christ and Christ in me.

 

I don’t want to move on with this most important book and just pretend like these little glories are irrelevant to the rest. They are not.

 

1. Father’s work in me directly affects you and vice/versa. We are to see glory together.

2. Father’s work in me, due to my calling, must shape how I address the text.

3. Father is still showing me/us wonderful things out of his law

Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”

4. Scripture is inspired, and phrases like this in verse 11, are not to be just read over so we can move on. They are profoundly significant and pregnant with truth that influences what was just said in the text and what he is going to say in the text.

 

This gospel that accords with the law contains immeasurable glory that we are to behold and people who behold glory get saved and then grow in restoring glory from their fallen state.

 

The church is a glorious body that Paul says is displaying the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). What that means is that the church is reflecting the glory she is beholding. We have been entrusted with this gospel of the glory of the blessed God and it must saturate everything in the church and in us.

 

1. Paul wants the church at Ephesus to see glory and in seeing glory see God

 

People captivated with the Father don’t have time for petty myths and genealogies that create divisions and stupid distractions that get them off mission and help them to shipwreck their faith.

 

People here were distracted by myths and endless genealogies. Paul reminds them of the beauty of the law when one uses it lawfully.

 

That lawful use is ultimately to show us the glory of God!

 

Isaiah 40:9

This verse is the introduction to a chorus telling of glory of God.

 

“Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength,

O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not;

Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’”

 

Jerusalem is personified as a herald that has a gospel (good news) to proclaim. The content of this gospel? “Behold your God!”

 

The message was to gaze upon God and see glory!

Implications:

 

A. God is the gospel

B. God is glorious

C. We need to see God

1. If the eyes of our heart have not been opened to see the glory of God we

are not Christians.

D. The gospel changes people so much that their greatest want is God

 

“Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don’t want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.”[2]

 

2. We will be transformed into the image of what we behold

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

 

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

 

When, by grace, we have our eyes opened to see the glory of Jesus, the Lord begins to restore his broken image in us and the glorious process of sanctification begins where the glory of God is restored in us one degree at a time.

 

A. If we continue beholding glory in Christ we will continue to grow in Christ

B. If we seek to behold speculations, myths and endless genealogies we will make

shipwreck of our faith and show we are not in the vine as branches but rather

pretenders who will be gathered and burned in the fire.

1. Those who do not behold the glory of the gospel continually become like the idols they behold (Psalm 115:4-8) (Psalm 135:15-18).

 

a. Gaze on the Lord through reading his word

1. When you read the word probing questions about the text are the Spirit’s windows through which we can glimpse glory!

2. Gaze on the Lord through the preaching of his word

a. Don’t assume you have anything better to do than be preached to

b. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

c. Illustration: What happens when I get preached to?

d. Don’t take the preaching of the word for granted.

 

3. To not see glory is to be lost and in the blind state of captivity to Satan

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

 

A. Satan has blinded unbelievers in their fallen state (v. 3-4)

B. Followers of Jesus have had God shine the light Jesus into their hearts so they

can see the glory of God (v. 6)

 

4. The Gospel is the glory of the blessed God and we are entrusted with it

1 Timothy 1:11

 

A. This glory is available to us. It’s at our fingertips. It’s the Scriptures.

“The law is good/beautiful if one uses it lawfully…”

1. The beautiful use of the Scriptures is to look in and see the glory in the

gospel.

2. Don’t let go until you see glory.

3. We need first the new birth (John 3) to see then we need continual

counseling from the Spirit to keep showing us and reminding us of

glory (John 14-16)

B. We must be people who reflect glory as we imitate our Father of glory

C. We must be people who tell glory as heralds of the good news of God in Jesus

Christ

D. We must be people who fall down and worship because we are so in awe of

the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ as revealed by the gospel through

the Spirit as we sound the depth of his word.

1. Ezekiel 1:28b

 


[1] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 72.

[2] John Piper, God is the Gospel

The right use of the beautiful law

The right use of the beautiful law

1 Timothy 1:8-11

 

We saw last time that there were some teachers who had been teaching speculative teachings not rooted in the correct exposition of the biblical texts.

 

We discovered some tools from our study to help us avoid believing false teaching and from being a false teacher:

 

1. Don’t presume to be a teacher flippantly (James 3:1)

 

2. Don’t come to expositional conclusions using extra-biblical texts. Use        Scripture to interpret Scripture. If your conclusion cannot be attained by a normal, Spirit-filled, bible believing man / woman / pastor with no special degree it’s probably wrong.

(The problem with pastoring people is not discovering what the text says but rather bending our desires and actions around what the text says. We usually want to bend the text to come to conclusions that support our desires.)

 

3. Do not build theological systems on obscure passages of Scripture, particularly  on obscure single verses. Remember, the bible one book, 66 chapters, one author,   many scribes, one story, many supporting cast members and one main character. Therefore, building systems on one verse isolated from the rest is a recipe for epic          failure.

 

4. Leave your personal agendas on the table. Don’t go to the text looking to justify your  deal. Go to the text with a blank agenda and let the text fill your agenda. Don’t use the bible like Adolf Hitler.

 

5. Gather with the people of God to be equipped, worship, filter your study through community and  submit to biblical leadership.

 

The problem is not the Law from which the teachers were teaching. The problem was with the teachers whose hearts were not pure, their conscience tainted and faith misplaced. False teachers seam to love teaching more than the God they are teaching from and about, their consciences are foggy due to lack of purity and their faith is more like witchcraft that produces their desires rather than an unwavering trust in the God of the bible constructed on evidence from Scripture and hope that Father has all things.

 

So, Paul, rather than leaving us with the impression that the Law was the problem helps us to see that the Law is actually good and has an aim.

 

I say frequently that at school we refer to Scripture as the “Manual”. This is because it is the Manual on all things. Whether addressed directly or by implication due to direct address to related issues, Scripture is the guide-book, the Manual, for knowing God and living life according to his blueprint.

 

If we jettison the Law we jettison God. The writers of the New Testament lived life in grace based on the Old Testament, therefore, this morning we, along with Paul, affirm that the Law is good when one uses it lawfully.

 

When we say “law” let us be clear. We mean not just the 10 commandments, but the entirety of the Old Testament. The Old Testament contains the beginnings of the metanarrative in creation, the fall, the beginning of the restoration in the establishing of God’s covenant with his people and the Net Testament kicks off the end times where we are speeding toward the return of Christ in the completion of the Great Commission. So, the “law” refers to the entire working out of God’s covenants with man leading up to Christ. Then the New Testament reveals Christ’s fulfilling the law and commanding the invasion of all nations with the Gospel.

 

So, lets take a look at what the right use of the means.

 

1. The law is beautiful when used as it is intended v. 8

A. Paul affirms the beauty of the law used properly

1. This implies the law has a proper use and an improper use

2. The proper use of the law v. 9-10

“…understanding this…”

 

A. To use the law properly one must understand the following instruction.

B. The law is not for those who are just.

1. No one is just apart from the righteousness of Christ, therefore, the law is for

every one and Paul gives a list that all people fall into:

a. Lawless – “anomos” – those with no law

b. Disobedient – those without subjecting themselves

c. Ungodly – “asebes” – those without worship

d. Sinners – “hamartolos” – those who miss the mark

e. Unholy – those not consecrated

f. Profane – those unhallowed, barred from the threshold of the temple

g. Those striking fathers and mothers – commandment 5 – honor f and m

h. Murders – commandment 6 – do not murder

i. Sexually immoral – commandment 7 – do not commit adultery

j. Those who practice homosexuality – commandment 7 – adultery

k. Enslavers – commandment 8 – do not steal (humans in slavery)

l. Liars – commandment 9 – do not bear false witness

m. Perjurers – commandment 9 – do not bear false witness

n. Whatever else is contrary to sound (healthy) doctrine – catch-all of

what is not right

C. What is the right use of the law?

1. First, the law serves to reveal sin and lead us to Christ (Rom 3:19–20; Gal 3:24). “…through the law comes knowledge of sin…” “…the law was our tutor to lead us to Christ…”

a. Mark 7:14-23

1. The point of the dietary law is not to restrict eating, but that in

restricted eating man would see that the issue is not the food but

the evil nature man inherited from Adam from the fall and that in

man’s best effort he would still receive the consequences of sin,

which is death (the day you eat of it you will die).

 

2. Even if you eat broccoli as your only meal the rest of your life

you will still produce sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery

etc….

 

2. Second, the law serves to restrain individuals from trespassing onto the wrong territory (Rom 7:7; Ps  19:13).

“…keep back your servant from presumptuous sins…”

3. Third, the law serves to point out the works that please God (Rom 13:8–10)[1]

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

a. Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

b. We learn to imitate Father’s passion, gentleness and righteous wrath

1. Jesus imitated this for us by speaking boldly, gently healing

those who hurt, then turning over tables and chasing people with

whips

4. Fourth, the law serves to help us grow in relationship to Father

a. Search the OT to know Father well and to know what the Psalms calls

his “testimonies” – how Father has worked in history

b. Search the OT to know how to imitate Father well as his ambassadors

c. Search the OT to know how to read and interpret NT texts that quote OT texts

3. The proper use of the law is in harmony with the gospel v. 11

“…in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted…”

Three observations from this text that accords with the revelation of the OT:

A. First, the gospel (that accords with the law) concerns the glory of the blessed God.

* Remember, the law accords with this truth!

1. The content of the gospel is to set forth and proclaim the glory of God.

B. Second, this gospel comes from “the blessed God.”

* Remember, the law accords with this truth!

The term “blessed” pictures God as the source and fountain of all blessedness. Blessedness rests in and proceeds from God.

1. God’s glory is found in his blessed state

“makarios”

A prose form of the poetic mákar (n.f.), blessed one. Blessed, possessing the favor of God, that state of being marked by fullness from God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ (Matt. 5:3–11, “Blessed . . . for my sake”; Luke 6:20–22, “Blessed . . . for the Son of man’s sake”), said of one who becomes a partaker of God’s nature through faith in Christ (2 Pet. 1:4). The believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit because of Christ and as a result should be fully satisfied no matter the circumstances. Makários differs from the word “happy” in that the person is happy who has good luck (from the root hap meaning luck as a favorable circumstance). To be makários, blessed, is equivalent to having God’s kingdom within one’s heart (Matt. 5:3, 10). Aristotle contrasts makários to endeḗs (1729), the needy one. Makários is the one who is in the world yet independent of the world. His satisfaction comes from God and not from favorable circumstances.[2 

C. Third, this gospel had been entrusted to Paul (and it has been entrusted to us)

1. The malicious perversions of truth Paul cited in vv. 9–10 did not proceed from the God of glory, and Paul wanted such heretical teaching to cease.[3]

2. We have entrusted with this gospel, therefore, we must know it and guard it

3. We must become experts and using the law to preach Christ (Acts 8:26-40)

a. We can show man the awesomeness of Father from the text

b. We can show man his lostness and war against Father from the text

c. We can show man Father’s love to send the Son to die and rise to so

man can be restored to Father

4. Let God’s people revel in this glorious gospel that is revealed cover to cover in Scripture

1. We have Scripture that tells us all we need to know. Father has not left us without

witness

 

2. We have a glorious message that we should be reveling in, therefore, revel in it

3. Engage the Triune God of the bible this morning in responding to him in worship


[1] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 70.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 72.