This message was presented on October 13, 2013 as part of the 1 Timothy series.
Turn to John 17:1-4. Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and John has recorded part of His prayer to God the Father,
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should1 give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. (John 17:1-4 NKJ)
What? Jesus hadn’t gone to the cross. He hadn’t yet said, “It is finished.” What was the work He has finished? One of the things Jesus finished was discipling the disciples. Really? For real? Do you mean the disciples that were still focused on a physical kingdom? The disciples that were still competing with each other? Do you mean the disciples that ran off under pressure? For real? Yes. Jesus finished what God the Father intended for the training of the disciples. HOW did Jesus stay on track to finish His work? How did He keep the disciples on track? He did three things. We see it in Matthew 4:19, “Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He charged them, He promised them, and He helped them see the truth. He charged them, “Follow Me.” And they immediately left their nets and followed Him. He promised them. “I will make…” He promised them that they would be changed. Then He said, “I will make you fishers of men.” The truth is they would become disciple-makers and the only way that was possible is the same way He made fishers of men, which was by the power of God’s love. How do you keep disciples on track? Understand His charge, promise and His love for discipling in truth.
Do you know any parents who struggle, because their children are not walking with the Lord? That is often a struggle! The principles for raising children are the same as discipling. You’ll see how to raise children that will stay on track if you learn the principles of discipleship in 1 Timothy. How do you stay on track with your disciples? We’re going to see the same three things, but in a different order in our passage.
1) Grasp Jesus’ call 1 Tim. 1:1-2 (The Promise)
Paul writes a personal letter to Timothy, but notice what he writes,
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope. (1 Tim. 1:1 NKJ)
Why does Paul make an issue of his apostleship and the commandment of God? Why doesn’t he just say, “Dear Timothy, I sure have missed you, how are you….” Timothy and Paul spent years together, but Timothy is struggling as a young pastor and he’s ready to walk. Tim was timid, cautious, and fearful – just the guy God can use. My friends, men are wired by God to be leaders, so there are three things men hate. They cannot stand to fail, because leaders don’t like to fail or fail people. They also don’t want to look like a fool, because people don’t follow a fool. And they don’t want to be found out as a fake, because leaders are supposed to be real and something worth following. Men have those fears, and Timothy was no exception. Now there are some bold, courageous and audacious men, but they often don’t admit they need God nor depend on God and they keep the glory for themselves. God wanted Timothy, because then the glory went to the Lord, not Timothy. Paul does not coddle Timothy, he gives him a promise of the Lord’s authority.
The “commandment” emphasizes both the authority from God and the inspiration of God in his letter to Timothy. The phrase “ God our Savior” is used seven times in Scripture (Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 25). Paul adds, “…and the Lord Jesus Christ,” which should be translated, “…in fact the Lord Jesus Christ.” He alone is our hope. When people struggle, they are usually hoping for a better situation, a better relationship, or even a better life. Paul has to shake Timothy to hope in Jesus alone, not for something better in life. “Jesus is the promise and He will be with you, Timothy.” Then Paul adds,
2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Tim. 1:2 NKJ)
The name “Timothy” means “ to honor God.” That was Paul’s desire for Timothy, because Timothy had everything going for himself to honor God. The word “true,” means “genuine” or “legitimate” and the word “son” [Teknon] is used of a student or disciple under authority. He listens and follows. The phrase “in the faith” refers to “that which is believed” or “the body of Truth.”
Paul normally says, “Grace and peace”, but here Paul adds “mercy.” Grace is unmerited favor of God to man’s need. Peace is the relationship experience with God as a result of faith in Christ. And mercy is God’s watch-care, faithful loyal-love to help Timothy in his journey as pastor and points to the incredible task of staying on track and keeping people on track. That takes the mercy of God.
How do you stay on track? Grasp Jesus’ call, which is His promise to be with us and grace us out for His journey. What He calls you to, He promises to be with you. In verse three we see urgency in His charge.
2) Charge followers to press forward in Truth 1 Tim. 1:3-4
Paul departed to visit Philippi and check on his supporting church, but Timothy needed to face his challenges.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia– remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1 Tim. 1:3 NKJ)
Paul knew as he departed from Ephesus, he was leaving Timothy in the hands of wolves and biting sheep. He wasn’t saying to be urgently out of control, but grasp Jesus’ call and press forward, in spite of difficulty. He knew Timothy was not going to have an easy time, but Jesus was greater than his difficulties. Remember the Scripture reading? Let me read three verses from that,
28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God1 which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:28-30 NKJ)
Timothy would face those from outside the church, but also those from within the church who would speak perverse things. Now, normally when you hear the word “perverse,” you think of something horrible like “Socialism” or some form of immorality. But Paul is talking about anything that is contrary or even right alongside of God’s Word, but is not God’s Word. There are some things taught in Protestant churches that are perverse, because they are close to God’s Word, but are not. The original language means “to make a turn.”
Paul exhorted Timothy to grasp Jesus’ call and promise and face the music. “Timothy, you’ll have to charge followers to press forward in Truth.” It is what every father must do to his children as we have seen in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12.
Timothy was ready to leave. Paul said, “Remain in Ephesus.” I mentioned a statistic four weeks ago that in 2011, 57% of pastors surveyed would leave the pastorate if they had a way to support their family. Paul said, “Remain in Ephesus.” You are needed there. Timothy was dealing with master and slave relationships in church. He was dealing with those who were wealthy and those who were very poor. He was dealing with fathers who weren’t supporting their families and he was dealing with women who were giving him ulcers. He wasn’t sure if it was worth it.
Everyone had their own ideas and they pushed those ideas into the church onto Timothy. Paul said, “Don’t give up your post.” It’s the first general order every soldier must learn, “ I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.” Joe Stowell, former president of Moody Bible College and current president of Cornerstone University once said, “Ministry is great if there weren’t any people.” Ministry IS challenging, because you’re working with volunteers.
I love the commercial of a bunch of cowboys on a cat drive out west. They are petting cats while describing the claw marks down their faces and then show them riding their horses while trying to drive or lead or herd the cats into Dodge City. That’s sometimes what it is like leading volunteers…and I love it.
How many parents, at some point, have thought, I wonder if there is someone who would be willing to take my kids for a week? Or wanted to give away a child or two, for a few days? Even God said He was temporarily done with Israel and sent them into exile!
Paul uses the word charge as a command from a superior officer. Paul used it with Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Tim. 1:18 NKJ) Paul uses this “charge” and “command” expression seven times, because Timothy is struggling and he needs to stand in his position and disciple the people at Ephesus. At every age, the Truth is challenged, because the enemy wants to infiltrate from without and within to stain the Truth.
Timothy had real challenges. In Ephesus, the temple of Diana, also called Artemis, was 450’ x 225’ and 60’ high. There were 127 60’ columns in the temple. It’s likely why Paul calls the church “the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15) Ephesus was a commercial center and on the main road of commerce from the east to the west through Asia Minor. There were rich and poor in the church. The church at Ephesus was a strategic spiritual center. Paul was handing off the baton to Timothy for the next generation. Paul knew complacency kills Christianity. Why?
There are some coming in and some rising from within, who will teach other doctrines. Some do it knowingly; some are ignorant of what they are doing. Paul wrote,
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, (1 Tim. 4:1-2 NKJ)
Listen to Paul’s warning to the Galatians about other doctrines,
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-8 NKJ)
The “different” gospel is not “another of a similar kind” gospel, that is, alongside of it. There are two words for “another” in the original language of Greek. One is “heteros” which means, “another of a different kind.” For example, a hetero-sexual marriage, which means a man and another person of a different kind, a woman. Then there is “allos,” which means “another of a similar kind,” like another apple, when comparing Granny Smith apples to Honeycrisp apples. Any other gospel than the pure gospel or addition to the gospel message is a perversion, a distortion, a turning away from God’s purity of truth, even when it is very close. We will see what Timothy’s issues were as we go and how they lead people into confusion.
Paul continues in verse four,
4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. (1 Tim. 1:4 NKJ)
Some fall into fables or storytelling, myths, Jewish legends and genealogical speculations. They often emphasize human reason and emotion. Many people have liked the book “The Shack.” The first couple chapters are gut-wrenching. William Young is an excellent writer of words. He pulls your heart out of your chest as you read about Mackensie Philips, whose daughter is abducted. It is so well written that you’re traumatized reading the book, aching for this dad who doesn’t know where or what happened to his daughter. But then the author, William Young, describes God. He describes God the Father as an African-American woman and the Holy Spirit as an Asian woman. In other words, he continues to pull on the emotions of people to try to provide answers for Mac. I would much rather Christians stick with God’s Word, rather than play with unsuspecting emotions. Titus also faced this (Titus 1:14; 3:9).
The last phrase “edification of God” should be the dispensation of God according to truth. Some translations use “stewardship” or “administration.” It is the change of one letter in the Greek word. The NKJV has “edification,” which is oikodomian, and NASB has “administration” or even better “dispensation,” which is oikonomian.
The point is false doctrine creates confusion and controversy. God is not the author of confusion. Some want only stories or emotional entertainment or just to relax. God wants us to grow up so we will charge others to follow.
Some say, “That’s just your opinion. I’ll agree to disagree.” If you leave the door open and are not willing to study together to better understand the Word, you eventually dilute the gospel and Truth. Paul addresses this in 1 Timothy 6,
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglingsof men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (1 Tim. 6:3-5 NKJ)
We are sheep: a fragile and fickle people. We get hurt easily. We blame others for our problems. We grumble when we don’t get our way. How do you stay on track? Grasp Jesus’ call and charge followers to press forward in truth and finally purpose to live Jesus’ love in truth.
3) Purpose to live Jesus’ love in Truth 1 Tim. 1:5
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, (1 Tim. 1:5 NKJ)
The word “now” is in contrast to false teachers. Leadership can swerve off course also, so understand your purpose. The purpose of the commandment is love described in three ways.
Love must come from a pure heart, that is, set apart to God purified from the world.
Love must come from a good conscience, that is a good that benefits others, from a conscience, which is a frame of reference where you make decisions for the character of God and His Word. It is the inner judge that approves when you have done right and accuses you when you have done wrong. Paul stated,
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them. (Rom. 2:14-15 NKJ)
Gentiles are unbelievers, who do the right thing, even though they don’t know the Mosaic Law, but God has written right and wrong on your conscience, so that you know murder is wrong and stealing is wrong. They do the right thing or they know they have violated the Law by doing wrong, because the conscience lets them know by accusing or excusing, that is “defending.” Let everyone know that repeated sinning against the conscience sears it like scar tissue as we will see in 1 Timothy 4:2.
And the last phrase “sincere faith” means a genuine faith, or non-hypocritical, non-perverted doctrine. That takes study for spiritual growth.
How do you stay on track? Grasp Jesus’ call, charge followers to press forward in truth and finally purpose to live Jesus love in truth.
Stay on track with Jesus by your purpose to disciple others.
There is urgency in discipleship. There is little time left. You may have 60 years. It is not much time. What are you excited about? Are you excited to share what you learn from God’s word with your children and the people you are around?
-Invite people to join you in the journey, grasp His call. “Follow Me.”
-Press forward in God’s priorities. “I will make.” His priorities are to transform our character and our mission.
-God’s love overwhelms every challenge in life. “I will make you fishers of men.” It is only by God’s love that we will be effective disciple-makers.
Testimony by Josh Georgen.
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) When you were young, what did you learn about God and from whom did you learn it?
2) Who were Timothy’s parents (Acts 16:1)? _______________ _______________ What else do we know about Timothy (cf. Acts 17:14-15; 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; Phil. 2:19-23)?
3) Which direction was Paul looking in life (Phil. 3:7-14)? _____________ How would you describe Paul’s sense of urgency in the Christian life (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27)?
4) What characteristic did Jesus emphasize to show how the world would know we are His disciples? _____________ How do you maintain a Biblical definition of that, rather than fall into wishy washy emotionalism or passivity when discipling others?
Making application from the message to life:
5) What passages do you cling to in order to guard the truth?
6) What are many things a person needs to do in order to prepare a “Timothy” for following and then leading others?
7) How can Grace be a more effective place to establish and launch “Timothys” into ministry?