Women have God-ordained value in the local church. The church does not function well with just men. God designed this institution to work with members of both genders.
New birth is the best defense against unbelief. A simple salvation testimony and evidence of a changed life shows that Jesus is enough. No rule or creative idea can change a person's life. Legalism and pragmatism simply do not agree with the Gospel.
1 Timothy 1:3-11 begins the body of Paul's letter to his mentor Timothy. Paul wrote to assure and strengthen Ephesian believers who were unsettled and scared by unbelief. Fearful people need to be encouraged, instructed, and emboldened to take action. Paul urged Timothy to take action against unbelief and help his flock become protectors of the church.
Paul wrote the book of 1 Timothy to encourage the believers at Ephesus, then instruct them about the structure of the church so they could make spiritual progress. First he had to encourage their leader, his "true son in the faith," Pastor Timothy. Paul was Timothy's spiritual father. He had mentored Timothy in personal growth and in ministry. What fruits did Paul desire to see in his spiritual son -- and what should we pray to see in our spiritual children?
The church in Ephesus had been unsettled by the false teaching of unbelievers in their midst. Even young pastor Timothy was anxious. Paul knew the flock at Ephesus well from teaching in their houses for over three years. His heart was that no soul would be left behind, and he wrote to settle the Ephesian believers. They needed to be encouraged and settled, so they could then learn proper structure and function in the church, then go on to make spiritual progress. Paul was an example to Timothy in discipleship and pastoral ministry.
Paul wrote the book of 1 Timothy as a mentor to his tutor. Pastor Timothy oversaw the largest of the first-century churches. This letter was a tool in Timothy's continued discipleship by Paul. No church is strengthened without disciple-making. It is a work of the church that every member must be involved in, not just the pastors.
Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel and one third the weight. Because of these properties, the airplane industry is using it to make more lightweight, durable jets. Likewise, the church is much stronger and can move forward with much less burden when it is well-taught and holds to proper doctrine. The Christian life can be hard, but it would be much more difficult if we didn't preach a proper Gospel.
Corporate purity in a church comes from the personal purity of its people. In God's divine order, people will become like their leaders. Paul wrote Timothy to watch his own life and doctrine so he could lead the church of Ephesus well. When it comes to doctrine, there is no "wiggle room." Even though Paul spent the most time establishing the Ephesian church, some people there were okay with deviating slightly from biblical doctrine. A thread of falsehood can creep into the most well-taught church. We are all prone to this error in our fallen natures, but the Word of God acts like a hammer to correct both our doctrine and our practice of it.
Paul had mentored Timothy for some time now. Timothy learned boldness in spite of timidity and learned to recognize and exercise his spiritual gifting. Timothy had watched Paul endure persecution and stay true to the gospel. By Acts 18, Timothy was strengthened to be an encouragement to his own teacher when Paul needed it. God has called every believer to be a spiritual encouragement to other saints. Even mature saints get tired and sometimes think about quitting, and even new believers can encourage these mature saints.
We continue to follow Timothy's journey as he learns how God builds His church. The normative pattern we see in the book of Acts is not churches being grown around programs or a person. God's primary way to grow a church is through people getting saved as a result of believers interacting with the unsaved. A church grown around the Bible will have the desire to plant other churches, then network together to reach even more regions in the world.
As Timothy accompanied Paul, Luke and Silas on their second missionary journey, he had a lot to learn. His role was an observer as he followed his spiritual leader. He saw what great things God can do through a few gifted people.
Last week we saw how Timothy learned and adopted the gospel burden of his spiritual leader and mentor, the apostle Paul. A “gospel burden” is a believer’s natural desire to share Christ with others. God’s designed this burden to be fulfilled first through personal evangelism, then through churches reaching their local community, and finally spreading the gospel message through the world.
A pastoral candidate was asked, “What do you have to offer our church?” His answer was only, “my weakness.” It’s an excellent answer. We only minister by God’s strength and His grace. Supernatural humility helps us overcome natural timidity. Someone once said, “Anxiety is the absence of humility, and humility is the absence of anxiety.”
Understanding the minutiae of Timothy’s life will help us understand the letters Paul wrote to help him oversee the pastor-shepherds of Ephesus. Timothy knew the Scriptures and came to Christ early in his life (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15). From what we see in Scripture, Timothy was always a timid man. But his life teaches us that timidity is never an excuse not to minister. Everyone experiences a degree of fear when giving the Gospel or ministering publically. We must not let it keep us from obeying God.
Timothy’s life is instructive as we learn to live worship-filled lives in 2015. He certainly demonstrates a worship-filled life even though we have not yet seen him in a formal worship setting!
We continue to study Timothy’s salvation history and character in preparation for understanding two pastoral letters written to him. Timothy’s life shows that we have no Gospel unless we have a changed lifestyle. Even when it becomes scary to serve the Lord, we step out in faith into the unfamiliar.
Our theme for the year is Living Worship-Filled Lives. Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to present our whole selves to God as a logical act of worship. This includes times of corporate worship and personal worship in prayer and reading God’s Word. But we also worship as we go about our lives, showing the fruit of what we’ve learned. The integrity of our lives should mirror how we worship on the Lord’s Day.
As we prepare to study the Pastoral Epistles, we’ll begin by learning about Timothy, to whom Paul wrote two letters. Understanding Timothy’s character helps us understand the content of the letters written to him.
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