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.

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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.