This is the Metropolitan Tabernacle the church in London where Charles Spurgeon preached. In building a powerful ministry Spurgeon modeled the principles that Paul taught. Timothy was told all scripture is sufficient for all things; so preach the Word. Our study of the pastoral letters from Paul to Timothy makeup our flight plan in this segment of "The Bible From 30,000 Feet." There's no better place than at the church of the prince of preachers to introduce these studies; so now let's get these final instructions.
Our journal over scriptures takes a new turn as Pastoral Epistles will now come clearly into view in our flight over "The Bible From 30,000 Feet."
Pastor Skip Heitzig: And open your Bibles tonight to First and Second Timothy; those are the two books we'll cover tonight; First and Second Timothy. Now we are almost done with "The Bible From 30,000 Feet." Next week we will look at the Book of Titus and Philemon. The following week, we will look at the book of Hebrews, after that we will be in James and then First and Second Peter and then John, First John, Second John, Third John, Jude, some of those are short, we will just do in one fell swoop and then the Book of Revelation and we have landed the plane by that time.
So we are coming to an end, it's been for me very fruitful, I have really enjoyed it, and here is why, I have taught through the Bible here at this church twice and last time I went through verse by verse every verse of every book, it took me like 11 or 12 years. So to go through it, even though it's been a flyover in just a little over a year, this is like week 56, it is pretty satisfying to see it all come together and I have especially appreciated the hunger and the thirst that I see with all of you guys when I come in the foyer sometimes early and I see you hovering over the note table. So what notes did I miss from the past, I got to get those notes and just shows hungry hearts and can I just say as a pastor how wonderful and even rare it is to be able to preach and teach to a group of people who are as hungry for truth as you are, it's an absolute pleasure. So let's pray tonight.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word, we thank You that this time of our service tonight is part of our worship, we are demonstrating by our attention to the Word of God that what You say is worth listening to, that it's not worth being distracted from. You have our full attention; we want to understand the message that You gave through Your servant Paul, though it was addressed to young Timothy. It really speaks to anyone in leadership, in the church today. So help us to understand it, we ask in Jesus name, Amen!
First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus are in a little special section on their own called the Pastoral Epistles, as Paul writes personal letters to these two young pastors that he leaves to their ministry. Now Paul was at Ephesus for about three years, when he left he put Timothy there. So Timothy whom Paul says is my own son in the faith, he left in Ephesus and he lives Titus in Crete to take over the church there and rise up leadership.
Now, First and Second Timothy are two books that every pastor loves or I should say every pastor should love because it's the first detailed description of how the church operates in the New Testament. If we want to know what it's to be like, this tells you in detail what it is to be like; it talks about the call to the ministry, the qualifications for the ministry, and the care of the minister toward those who need that care in the congregations. Now the first book, First Timothy has a theme that is readily seen. It stated, we don't have to guess the purpose of this book.
He writes in chapter 3 verse 15; "I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the House of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
So he states in one verse the purpose for writing this first letter, a little bit about Timothy, Timothy was important to Paul, 24 times in Paul's writings he will refer to Timothy. Timothy was a son in the faith, as I have said, because he let him to Christ. He was also a protégé of the Apostle. Now this is how it worked, when Paul was on his first missionary journey and he went through Lystra and Derbe and Iconium in a little section where he got stoned, I mean he didn't get stone, they threw rocks at him. He got kicked out of the city. When he was in that first city Lystra that's where Timothy lived with his mother and grandmother and his father.
Now Timothy's mother was a believer. She was Jewish and she believed that Yeshua was the Messiah, Jesus was Christ. His father was a Greek and seems that he was an unbeliever. So he was born of mix parentage. He heard the gospel on Paul's first trip through his hometown and probably through hearing Paul and the influence of his mother and grandmother he came to Christ, so that years later on Paul's second missionary journey, Timothy joined Paul, the Apostle Evangelistic Association and he went on that tour with Paul and he became so important to the apostle that Paul designates him with a very unique term.
In the Book of Philippians, if you remember this, he said, concerning Timothy, "for I have no one likeminded who will naturally care for your state." Remember that little text, like-minded, isopsychos is a one Greek word, equal souled, equal souled. We are like bread and butter, we track. Our minds are, our hearts are in sync, we are equal souled. And it's a very unique term used only once in the New Testament and that's the only time Paul uses it, is to refer to Timothy. So Timothy goes with Paul on the first missionary journey. Later on, Timothy will accompany Paul with a collection of money that they bring back to the church in Jerusalem and then much later on, he will go to Ephesus and take over pastoral duties in Ephesus dealing with false teachers and appointing spiritual leaders.
So when we read First Timothy, we are reading a letter from the apostle to the pastor of the church of Ephesus. That's where he was located at this time. So this talks to us tonight about the church and its leadership, First and Second Timothy. Now today, people have lots of options for churches and people go let's call it church shopping. They have a little sort of list in their mind of ingredients that they want to fulfill. I want this in a church and that in the church, this in a church and that in the church and we have that option today, it's wonderful. Back then, you were lucky if you had an assembly in a town within miles of anywhere and that was it. But today people look for ingredients that they want and the trouble is; we ought to be consulting the founder and the director of the church Himself Jesus Christ. He said, I will build My church. So in finding a church, one should certainly be looking for one that Jesus is the founder of and is following the principles as outlined in these Pastoral Epistles.
So let me just pose a question to you personally before we jump in. Here is the question; I always like to ask it from time to time especially when people are looking around for churches or well this church isn't very this or very that. If everyone in your church were just like you, what kind of church would it be? So that's just, cogitate on that, mull over that for a lifetime and it's very helpful I find. There are six chapters in First Timothy, four chapters in Second Timothy. I am going to give you the outline, not of Second Timothy right yet, but just First Timothy, six chapters, four main divisions. First of all chapter 1, the message of the church, the message of the church, the truth, the gospel, the core message of the church. Chapters 2 and 3, the members of the church, different kinds of people that makeup an assembly; chapter 4, the minister or ministers of the church and chapters 5 and 6, the ministry of the church, that forms the division. Let's consider a few verses in chapter 1, the message of the church.
"Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, to Timothy, a true son in the faith".
See that little phrase, 'the faith', there was only one true faith and when Paul uses the term the faith as Jude will later use the term the faith. It means the body of revealed truth that the church believes and holds to, the gospel truth.
"Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I urged you when I was in Macedonia, remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine."
Now one of the words, you are going to notice Paul liked a lot especially in these two letters is the word 'doctrine' and when he uses the two words, other doctrine though it's two words in English, it's one word in the original language, it's heterodidaskaleō, a different teaching, a different gospel, a different teaching, a different gospel, something that people hold to other than the faith, the truth that we have revealed. That is what he writes about here. "Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in the faith." So, what people were doing, we can piece together and we have seen this in other letters, so we are used to it by now. There were Gnostic and there were mystics and they added stories and myths to Biblical stories.
So, pretty soon, it was hard to tell what is an actual historical Old Testament narrative versus some myth plus remember the Gnostic believed in the doctrine of emanations that God is too pure and Holy and righteous to touch anything in the physical world so that God, the God never created the earth, never created anything physical because he is spiritual and that what is spiritual, would never defy himself of anything physical.
So, an emanation went out from God and another emanation and another emanation and another emanation, from that emanation and eventually, there was an emanation that went out from God that was so far removed from God that that emanation created the earth. That was their wacky doctrine. It was all made up. All made up. That is what Paul is writing against here.
Verse 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."
A lot of Christians today do not know that we are in a war for the truth, a battle for the truth. Wage the good warfare. What was it the Jude said in his little, epistle verse 3, "Contend earnestly for the faith, once for all, deliver to the saints." Did you hear that contend? You know what that means? Contentious, put up a good fight for the faith. Somebody says something false, you can just, well you know, it's what you believe that is your truth, or you can say, excuse me, but that is not the truth and of course, he is writing in the context of the church. "Of all places we need to guard the truth, it would be here, the faith, the truth what is revealed."
Now, look at chapter 2, we get to the second section, the members of the church, men, women, pastors, deacons, several groups are listed,
Verse 1; "Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications [that would be strong entreaties], prayers, [a general word], intercessions, [praying on behalf of someone else] and giving a thanks be made for all men, [notice] for kings and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."
He didn't say pray for people who agree with your political position; pray for leaders who are sympathetic toward Christian ideologies and pray for all men and all who are in authority. You know as Christians, we are, we have a dual citizenship. Paul said in Philippines, our citizenship is in Heaven. We ought to be looking toward that and thinking about that dwelling on that. He said, "At the same time, we must be responsible citizens of the earth and we ought to be obeying the laws of the land and praying for those who govern."
When Jesus looked into the future and saw His people on the earth, if you remember, He prayed, "Father, I do not pray that you would take them out of the world, but that you would deliver them from the evil one." So, it is clear that He wants us in the world but not of the world. Don't I pray take them out of the world. Now, when we pray, our prayer is take me out of this world. Get me out of this place. Give me a group of people that I can surround myself where there all love Jesus and that will be nice, it is called Heaven, by the way, when you get there, you will know the difference but until then, we were meant to be salt and light here.
Now, when Paul wrote this, the guy-in-charge was Caesar Nero. It didn't get much worse than that. He hated Christians and right about-- well, little bit after this time around 64 AD, he kind of amped up the persecution so that they often dealt with leaders who were hostile toward the faith and Paul says, "don't write them off." God desires all men to be saved, of course, in context he is including those hostile leaders. Pray the God would save Nero. Pray the God would save those people that you didn't vote for or you disagree with or to pray for all men."
Verse 8, "I desire therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting." The idea here is men are to lead in the public worship of the church, a common posture for prayer is to raise the hands.
I remember the first time I walked into a Christian assembly and the saw people raising their hands. I wasn't raised in a church that at any kind of open public display of worship. You go to church, you just sort of sit there and you just kind of look around, you don't say anything and then you leave but they are just kind of that is it. But I saw people during times of worship with their hands raised and I thought that is weird that is spooky. I will never do that. It is such a wonderful posture of surrender because it is like if somebody holds you up, they might point a gun at you and say, "put your hands up." When your hands are up, you can't do anything with them. You are helpless to do anything. You can't text when your hands are up. You can't work on another project while your hands are up. It's I surrender.
Now, it is not like you have to raise your hands when you worship. You certainly can and it is certainly appropriate in the Bible. I have often thought it is actually weirder not to raise your hands when you sing I lift my hands up to you Lord, I raise my hands and lot of times I look around and we sing that and you are singing it but you are not doing it. So, I would say, either do it or don't say that you are doing it when you are not doing it. It just sort of makes sense; at least kind of take your cues from the song. "In like manner also that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing but which is proper for women professing godliness with good works."
Now, this is the church he is speaking about. He is not saying that it is wrong to wear jewelry or it is wrong to do hair up or it is wrong to wear makeup or it is wrong to wear certain fashions. Nothing wrong with that but church isn't to be a fashion show. That is why I love the fact that we can come in our jeans if we want to. If you want to dress up, great but it is not about what you wear or how you look and may I just please, at this point, use this text, "to give a plea to young women to dress modestly for the sake of your Christian brothers who are around you." [Applaud]
Now, I know that Jesus said to men, whoever looks upon another women to lust for her and his heart has committed adultery and that is true. That is a problem but there is another side to that problem. See, if there wasn't Bathsheba bathing on the roof of her house; it would be a lot more helpful for David when he walks outside. There is two sides of that coin and women can dress in such a way as to invite male attention and insight their lustful gratification. So, don't do it. Don't give the opportunity. Arthur W. Pink writes this, "if lustful looking is so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with a desire to be looked at and lusted after are not less but perhaps more guilty."
"In this matter, it is not only too often the case that men sin but women tempt them to do so. How great then must be the guilt of a great majority of modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of young men." So, it is not about you, it is not how you look, it is about God and about worshiping Him and so that is the focus and that is the emphasis Paul was giving.
Now, chapter 3 and 4 are First Timothy brings us to the third section of this epistle, this letter; the ministers of the church are addressed.
Verse 1, "This is a faithful saying, if a man desires the position of a bishop, [bishop means an overseer or an elder or a pastor; those terms are often used interchangeably in the New Testament to speak of the same office] he desires a good work." Now the bishop, the overseer, the elder, the pastor, this was the principal office in the New Testament church. He had helped, we will read about the deacons in a minute but now he lists 16 qualifications for the pastor and look at down at verse 8. "Likewise deacons, [they are part of the same ministry group], deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given too much wine, not greedy for money." By the way, it's there to be reverent, not reverend. Okay, so I just want to make a little point here.
The Bible never uses the term reverend so and so in speaking of a minister, I know we do that and it's just, it's part of our culture, it's going to change. But if you look up the reverend, the only time I found that it applies to anyone in the Bible is to God. Reverend and holy is the Lord. He is to be revered. So I just -- when people call me reverend, I just sort of I don't kind of like want to move away or something. No, I mean, it didn't even sound right, does it? Reverend Skip? Those two words don't match. If I had maybe a cooler name that was more reverend it would work but we are to be reverent. We are to live in such a way both elders and deacons that are reverent in behavior.
"So likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given too much wine, not greedy for money." And the list of qualifications is given now to the deacons. Now let me tell you what a deacon is, the word, the idea of this appears first in the Book of Acts in chapter 2 where the apostles say, we are not going to leave the Word of God and serve tables. Diakonos is the word for serve or servant, Diakonos, deacon. Sometimes the word refers to a specific office, often times the word simply refers to anybody who serves in the local assembly of the church. A servant of God is a deacon, one who serves.
When it's used in the official sense, it's those who help the elders fulfill their spiritual ministry. And chapter 4 continues to, the ministers of the church theme, and he is going to warn of those who will fall away from the truth and the need to warn them and the need to teach the truth. Look at verse 6, "If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine, [there's that word again], which you have carefully followed."
Now let me just tell you what he is getting at, he is speaking of the need to continually feed and be nourished with the everlasting truth of the word of God and the need is especially needful for those in the ministry. Sometimes people can be ministering to other people and writing sermons and preparing Bible studies and every time they read the Bible they are thinking about their audience, rather than what God is trying to personally show me. And that's to be applied first of all to oneself, that's the idea of that verse that we just read.
Verse 13, "Until I come, give attention to the reading, [well we are doing that], exhortation, [and we are doing that], and to doctrine, [we are doing that]." Verse 16, "Take heed to yourself, [Timothy] and to doctrine, continue in them for in doing this you will save both yourself, and those who hear you."
Now I mentioned that doctrine is used quite a bit, 20 times. Paul himself uses the term in his writings, 20 times doctrine; 37 times it's used in the Bible, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine but Paul uses it 20 times. Didaskalia, it means teaching, truth, instruction. Now if I ever felt sorry for a word in a language, I feel sorry for the little word doctrine. I feel sorry because of the way I hear Christians talk about doctrine. Conversations like this, well dude, I don't want to talk about doctrine man, I just want to talk about Jesus. Ooh! That sounds so cool and so hip and so spiritual, it's just flat out wrong.
Well, you know, doctrine, it's just like technical stuff, I am just into God. Listen, doctrine just means healthy good solid teaching. So listen to how it sounds, I am not into good solid healthy teaching man. You are not? Shame on you, you should be because you wouldn't know anything and I wouldn't know anything about Jesus and God and what to do were it not for the teaching, the doctrine, the instruction that comes from the Bible.
Now, when I buy a gadget, I hate the manual. Because sometimes the manual is like four times bigger than the gadget. It's like a dictionary. It's like there is huge volume. It's like and there is no way I am going to read this, I am just going to intuitive. I am going to figure this thing out and if I get stuck I would call somebody who has one of these little gadget. I am not going to look at this book. And that's my concern. My concern is that as Christians, as Christian churches in this modern age we are neglecting the owner's manual. And churches now, the trend now is to say, well preaching is too authoritarian and we should just have discussions and we shouldn't say, thus says the Lord or anything is absolutely true. And there is a movement away from the truth.
And so today, it's more important about what you feel rather than what you know to be true, honestly. Well, how does it make you feel? Oh! That's good. But objective truth has been cast out; so people today are long on zeal and short on facts. And yet what did the Prophet Hosea say? What did God say to the prophet Hosea; my people perish for lack of feeling, oh, my people perished for lack of inner warmth. No, my people perished for lack of knowledge. Four times I have counted at least maybe more Jesus said to the leaders of his day. Have you not read? Have you not read? Like you should know this, it's there in the book. It's right there. This is what God said, we can apply it to our lives.
James Montgomery Boice who is now in heaven. One of my favorite authors wrote, "We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace this cause to an acute lack of sound spiritual knowledge. Ask the average Christian to talk about God and after getting past the expected answers you will find that his god is a little god of vacillating sentiments." Now as a pastor here is my goal, I would love and my aim weekly, that's what I live for, is to make sure you are the best fed and best loved congregation on the planet. I want you to know the Bible. I want you to know spiritual truth. I want you to know the will of God and the more you are exposed to the truth and the more I am exposed to the truth, we are going to grow in the knowledge of the will of God. And if I am going to leave any legacy it's that of a Biblically literate, I pray congregation who loves the truth. And I already see it in you and I thank God for that.
Now let's look at finally, chapter 5 and 6, the ministry of the church. The ministry and this is a little section on how to handle all the different kinds of people that gather together, old people, young people, truth seekers, false teachers, that sounds like a Dylan song. Now forget it. I am thinking of -- I am thinking of something. I am thinking of a song actually that he wrote that has a little rhyme in it but you don't want to go there. I don't want to go there.
Verse 1, "Do not rebuke an older man but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women, etcetera."
Verse 3, "Honor widows who are really widows." Now chapter 5 verse 3 through 16 are list of what qualifies a widow to receive help physical, monetary help from the church. They wouldn't give money to anybody. If there were a widow who had no family, no other means of support, husband died, no children, no relatives, then under certain circumstances the church at large would take care of them and those are spelled out here.
Verse 17, "Let the elders who rule well be counted of worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine." Verse 19, "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest may also fear."
So all these different kinds of people and how they are to be dealt within the church and that little verse, that last verse; verse 20, you don't see that done very often. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all. And it's very rarely done. I think we have done it maybe twice here in the whole history of the church where we have had a bring somebody up at say what happened because the sin was a public sin and had to be dealt within that kind of a fashion. Early church it was done quite regularly and I will tell you what this did, it brought the fear of God upon people because if sinning in such a way is to damage the church would be dealt with publically, in front of that congregation. You would have people go, okay; I am not going to go there, not going to do that. Now today what people say when you do that, I am just going to go to another church. Back then, they didn't have another church. You are kicked out of the church, you are out of the church. Today, now people would circumvent this.
Let's go to chapter 6, verse 1, continuing about the ministry of the church to various people. "Let us many bond servants as our under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honor so that the name of God and his doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things."
Now this to me is very enlightening, very interesting. This is one of the six times that the New Testament speaks about master-slavery relationships, which were very common 2000 years ago. It's written about in First Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, Timothy and Philemon. When we get to Philemon next week, we will expand more on that. But 2000 years ago, slavery was an established legal institution in the Roman government. In fact, it is believed that 60 million people were slaves 2000 years ago in the Roman Empire. That's half the population of the Roman Empire.
Now I am going to talk about those kind of slaves, let me tell you what they were like. Some was menial labor but many of them were well-to-do, very educated, given a lot of responsibility, hired or brought into the employ of some kind mastership of a very wealthy family. They would be teachers, they would private tutors, they would sometimes be doctors. It is believed that Luke who is a physician was a slave owned by Theophilus, that's why he wrote a Theophilus that was his job to gather the facts.
So they had very reputable positions. And what's interesting to me about all of these different situations is that Paul, John, Peter, none of them ever spoke out against slavery and that's interesting. There is never an attempt to overturn it or abolish it, but simply, understanding that culture back then, you know I am sure, Paul didn't think he is going to rid the Roman empire of 60 million slaves. So he wanted to mitigate against the problems and the church does that, I will explain why in a minute. So what he basically tells slaves to do is be the best slave in the batch, be such a good slave, such a godly slave, such an obedient slave, that the master would even be won to Christ by his servitude. It's a very, very interesting approach.
Now the church was common ground. If you went to an assembly 2000 years ago, you would have slaves and masters sitting next to each other. In fact, at Colossae, Philemon and his slave, Onesimus, who is a runaway slave. Next week we will see what that meant for him to come back, were together. This created some tension because Christianity taught 2000 years ago, whether you are a master or a slave, with Christ you are exactly the same. You are all equal, no one is greater, no one is less. And that was true and they all came together in the assembly. In fact, 2000 years ago in the New Testament assembly there might be a slave who was an elder and a master who was not. So the roles are reversed in terms of who was esteemed, etcetera, very interesting.
It did create some problems because Galatians 3:28 teaches, "There is neither a Jew nor a Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither a male nor a female, you are all one in Christ."
So you come together as a church, all the barriers are loose, they are gone, but I am not going to overturn this thing in the Roman Empire, so if you are in that situation slaves, you be the best slave possible. Masters you treat your slaves with respect like any employee.
Verse 20; "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, [that is the truth, the Word of God] avoiding the profane and idle babblings and the contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you, Amen."
Now it says, grace be with you, it's plural, its grace be with you all. So while this is a letter to Timothy, the very end he is kind of saying, tell everybody at the church that I ministered out for three years in Ephesus, my greetings. So Timothy like every minister was to guard like a sacred trust, truth and stand up for the truth and fight for the truth and warn with the truth and exhort with the truth and teach the truth, that's the theme of First Timothy.
Now let's look at Second Timothy and we will close. Second Timothy is the last letter Paul ever wrote. After Second Timothy, he died. That's the belief. It is his swan song. I think he knew he was coming toward an end, because he says that toward the end of his letter. Now there is quite a difference in tone, from First and Second Timothy. In First Timothy, there is an anticipation. Paul feels I am going to get released from prison soon and Timothy I am going to join you, we will be together again, not in Second Timothy. Second Timothy, he has resigned to the fact that he is not getting out of jail, he is going to die, he says the time of my departure is at hand. He knows he is going to die and that tone is pervasive throughout the letter. So this is what happened.
Paul was in prison in Rome. He got released; he was under house arrest, right. He writes a letter to Timothy, after he writes First Timothy; Titus, he gets released by Caesar Nero from prison. He is out of prison for about a year. We don't exactly know what happened to him, but we can piece some of the things together. He may have gone as far west as Spain in that year. That was his heart's desire, he wrote to the Romans remember, I want to visit you when I go to Spain. So he might have said, I am going to Spain, I want to bring the message of Jesus Christ as far west as I can.
I am convinced, if we would have existed as the United States 2000 years ago, Paul would have want to come here. But he went perhaps to Spain. We know at least he went to Colossae, we know that he went to Ephesus, hung out with Timothy; he probably went to Crete to visit Titus. He helped Timothy a little bit while he was at Ephesus, but later on he was re-arrested at Troas, brought back to Rome, put back in jail, this time a very different jail than the first time. First time, house arrest, first time freedom for people to come in, come out. Second time, when he wrote Second Timothy, he was in the Mamertine Prison locked down, solitary confinement, a hole in the ground.
I visited the Mamertine Prison twice now and I have read through some of these sections in that pit, just to get what it was like. These were the final days for Paul, they were dark days for Paul because -- and many people don't realize this about the apostle. When he writes Second Timothy, most of Paul's best friends deserted him. This wasn't going right. This whole Christianity thing wasn't going like they anticipated. Everybody is getting killed or hurt or arrested. Even Paul the Apostle was arrested then re-arrested and looks like he is going to die. His friends deserted him. He is in a very, very dark place when he writes this letter. So there is four chapters, here is the outline.
Chapter 1, the present calling, the present calling; Timothy given what's going down, here is the calling on your life, that's chapter 1. Chapter 2, pastoral character; this is how you are to conduct yourself as a minister of God. Chapter 3, practical concern, and guess what that was, false doctrine, false teachers; people falling away from the truth. And chapter 4, a personal charge. Let's look at chapter 1, a few verses, the present calling.
"To Timothy, a beloved son: grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy. When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, [some of you are going ah, I got it wrong, others are going, yeah I got it right, because I cheated, no] and I am persuaded is in also in you."
So let's put the question up, here it is. Who was the mother of Timothy? Was it? Okay, so yeah how many said Eunice? Well, let's see what it is. Do we have the results? Oh, look at that; 46 percent said Eunice, 5 percent Mary, 31 percent said Lydia, that's interesting and 18% said Lois, Lois was grandmother. But hey, you guys are tracking, way to go. Thank you very much for that poll. Pollsters we appreciate that very much.
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God, verse 6, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."
Let me just fill in some gaps. It seems as I read through First and Second Timothy, it seems that Timothy got discouraged easily or waned easily. The time has got tough that he wasn't kind of up to the performance as a minister should be in difficult times that Paul thought and he needed frequent encouragement and in exhortation to be faithful, to keep the fire alive that's what stir up means, keep the fire burning, keep the coal stoked.
Verse 8; "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God."
What we notice here in this letter is that Paul recognizes that Timothy had a great spiritual upbringing, a mom and a grandmother who are believers. Jewish, believed in Yeshua. They probably got saved in Paul's first missionary journey, they were the instruments that led Timothy and exemplify the Christian faith to Timothy for him to make a decision, and that's a great blessing.
Many of us are the spiritual victims of praying grandmothers and praying mothers. Now keep those prayers coming. I love to see when women say, we are going to pray, it's like yes, things are going to happen. I think of these women who pray for Timothy and Timothy was so valuable to Paul. You know sometimes, today, when couples get together and they are going to have children, often times, up to the point where they have kids, there is no thought about God or reading their Bible or going to church or a spiritual focus until they have children. Okay, now they have a child and suddenly it's like an epiphany, it's like, we got to go to church. We got to have a spiritual emphasis.
Now listen, I am not knocking that or mocking that, I am glad for that. At any time, any spiritual awakening is good. But what they are saying is, oh goodness, my child is going to need spiritual guidance and moorings and a world view that's worth something because I haven't been living that, but they need one. So though that's good at any time, let me suggest young couples who don't have children, do it before you have a child. Dedicate yourself to the Lord long before you have children because if it's just all about, I take my kids to church, they are going to see through that like in about two years when they have enough sense to talk and understand language and articulate. They are going to say, oh hypocrisy. They take miniatures but they never live for God.
A lot of times people will quote Proverbs 22, "Train up a child in the way that he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it."
I love what Abraham Lincoln said, he said, "For a parent to train up a child in the way that he should go, he should go that way himself first." There was a group of scholars, four of them, four biblical translators and they were all discussing what they felt was the best translation of the Bible.
So, the first guy said, "Oh, the Old King James that is so majestic, it is the best. You can't beat that." Another scholar said, "I like the NIV, it is a little more contemporary, it has some flavor and color to it that the King James misses." The third guy said, "I love the NASP, it is accurate." The fourth guy said, "You know my favorite and best translation of the New Testament is my parent's translation." And they looked at him and they laughed and said, "What do you mean?" And he said, "They translated every page of the Bible into their own life and it was the most convincing Bible translation I have ever seen or heard. They lived it, they walked it." And so Timothy had this legacy of believing mother and grandmother.
Look down at verse 15 chapter 1; "This you know, that all those in Asia have to turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes."
Now, we don't know who they were. They probably were leaders who showed some promise as leaders but they deserted their post, they ran away, they left and so can you imagine, being named by Paul because this is going to like, everybody is going to read it for like 2000 more years. Your name is like doing that? There? For good? What a drag which is something else. We find it is not the only times he names, names, Paul actually names people's names publically. If somebody was false or an error, you know they never kind of just soft steps and go, well, you know there are those who believe, he goes, I will tell you who they are who believe, here's their names, stay away from them and if you see them, rebuke them. We are very, very cautious to even get near any of that today. Paul saw that poison must be labeled poison and he did.
Chapter 2 it's the pastoral character. Now, we are just kind of quickly go through this because this is Paul being Mr. Metaphor. You are going to see all these mix metaphors that a leader is the steward, a soldier, an athlete, a farmer and a workmen. You get it all in few verses, watch.
Verse 3; "You must therefore endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles themselves for the affairs of this life, that he may please Him, we enlisted him as a soldier."
That is one metaphor. Here is another one. "And if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."
In verse 6, "the hard working farmer must be first to partake of his crops." Now why does he do this? He is pulling out all these analogies to say, sometimes serving God requires hard work, hard work, all of these that are mentioned are hard working people doing some hard working tasks, so it takes daily determination and commitment and anything worthwhile than life requires that.
So verse 15; "Be diligent [or be persistent] to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth."
Be persistent, be diligent, work hard, hard working farmer, athlete, soldier, see all of that is in Timothy. You got to get back into the game, buddy. You can't wane now. You got to work hard especially if you are a pastor of Timothy, work hard. Be diligent, be persistent.
Several years ago, when he was alive, I had the privilege of having Dr. J. Vernon McGee speak here at the midweek Bible study at our church and it was precious. I have always loved listening to him, I grew up listening to him and I interviewed him that day on local radio and J. Vernon McGee is known for taking his people through the whole Bible, verse by verse, everyday at some of his broadcast, he goes through a Book of the Bible and we were talking about how rare that is and I said, "Dr. McGee, I need to ask you a question, why is it-- this is your legacy. You have taught through the whole Bible." I am in my 20's when I am interviewing him, I am just getting started in the ministry. I said, "Why is it that most churches and most pastors don't take their congregations from Genesis to Revelation like you have done through the whole Bible?"
And he said this on the radio, "he said, because they are lazy. I tend to believe friends, that we have many of lazy preachers." That is what he said, I will never forget that. And that is exactly how he said it. "Lazy preachers." So, when he said that and he looked at me, I thought, I don't want to be a lazy preacher. I want to be diligent. I want to understand the text; I want to understand the context. I want to know the language. I want to know the history and be as accurate. Notice, rightly dividing, it means to cut a straight line, that is what it means, cutting a straight line. Now, what was Paul by occupation? He was a tentmaker. And they made tents in those days not with cloth but skins of animals and it required exactness in cutting the skin straight to bring the ends together. That is the analogy he is using. Also, it was used when roads were put in and you had to cut a straight line through a valley or a straight path through a field and what Paul is saying here, given that language, and this analogy is this Timothy, "build a straight road through the field of truth and don't get sidetracked." That is the idea of this verse. Build a straight road through the field of truth and don't get sidetracked. Preach the word.
So, that takes us to chapter 3 and 4. Chapter 3 is the practical concern and you know what, I have discovered that Paul's concern should be our concern. It is the same issues today. People deviate from truth and call themselves Christian churches.
Verse 1; "But know this, in the last days, perilous times will come, men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanders, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, head strong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness and denying its power and from such people, turn away!"
Boy, you think he just read the local newspaper, coming up with this list. It is amazing that only 30 years after the gospel through Christ in the original apostles, exploded in Jerusalem. A mere 30 years later, there was already at that time a falling away from the truth, a falling away from what is right, a falling away from Christ.
It has always been the case. Satan has always wanted to question truth. From the very beginning, what did he say to Adam and Eve? "Hath God said" came the question to challenge to God's truth. Even Jesus said something that every time I read, I get a lump in my throat. So when the son of man returns, will he find the faith on the earth? A very haunting question, this is what it means, if indeed the church is the pillar on the ground of the truth, which it said so in First Timothy, it is, is where truth, real truth is disseminated. It makes sense that the church will become the battle ground. That just makes sense in simple strategy and that is true, that is why liberalism in the church doesn't surprise us. That is why attacks from the cults don't surprise us, that is why church splits and church attacks don't surprise us because the church, according to the Bible is ground zero. It is ground zero.
Satan is always on the prowl seeking whom he may devour and my big concern is people in the church because I am a pastor. Every time I read anything at all by this group, The World Council of Churches, I shudder, I wish they'd change their name to World the Eclectic False Doctrine something because they never say anything worthwhile at all. Now, The World Council of Churches has comprises of 350 Churches in 120 different countries that would effectively touch the possibility of 550 million people. Recently, World Council of Churches and 25 theologians who got together in Switzerland put out this statement, "All religious traditions are ambiguous. In other words, they are a combination of good and bad." And quote, listen to this, "We need to move beyond the theology which confines salvation to the explicit personal commitment of Jesus Christ." So, you heard that. I recommend that you do what Paul just said, "From such, turn away." Turn away. Have nothing to do, turn away.
Takes us to chapter 4 and we will close with this; the personal charge verse 2; "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and will turn their ears away from the truth, be turned aside to fables."
Sound doctrine, Hugianō, means literally hygienic doctrine, clean, healthy, teaching. Why would any one ever turn away from good, solid, healthy, Bible teaching? I can tell you exactly why, because it rebukes their ungodliness, and Jesus said, "Men love darkness rather than" what, "light, because their deeds are evil." That's exactly why it happens, you can couch it under -- well my belief system is, but it's simply an accommodation to their own behavior.
Verse 5; "But you, [Timothy but you, in contrast to that], but you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
Okay here it is. This is his parting words, verse 6, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure [the word departure, speaks of a ship setting sail from the harbor] is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, finally there is laid up for me, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing."
Timothy, finish well, because Timothy, look at me, is what Paul is saying, look at me, Timothy, I am finishing well, time of my departure is at hand. But I have run the race. Timothy, I finished the course. Timothy stay at it, it's so -- I can't think of a word, it's that bad, whatever word you want to use, to see a life that is lived, and lived, and lived, and then at the end, the finish is poor.
One of the great things I have always admired, and still do, especially as Dr. Billy Graham, is nearing his own -- the end of his life. He won't be with us much longer, he is very frail. I was invited to be at George Beverly Shea's 100th birthday party next week. In a couple of weeks I won't be able to make that, but here is Dr. Billy Graham, and George Beverly Shea, and they are finishing well. They are going to heaven the right way, they are finishing their course.
So, these were among the last words of Paul. Verse 22, "The Lord Jesus Christ, be with your spirit, grace be with you, Amen." His last words; his last words. I have often wondered, what will my last words be, I hope they are good words, I hope it's not like you say something really lame to your wife, and then you get in a car accident, that's the last words.
These are Paul's last words, he preached to the very end, the last sound I ever want to hear, is the sound of my chin hitting the pulpit as I go down [laughing]. That's how I want to finish.
Now this is the end of the Paul's life. After he finished writing this, not very long afterwards, he was taken to a place called, the Basilica Julia, big building in Rome; it was built by Julius Caesar. And there Paul the Apostle stood, before some representative of the Roman government, and he heard the death sentence against him, and after that Paul marched out to his death.
I am borrowing now and closing with this, from A.T. Robertson, "The crowds flowed into town. Some were going out. Paul was only a criminal going to be beheaded. Few, if any, of the crowds knew about or cared anything about him. At a good place on the road some miles out the executioner stopped. The block was laid down. The executioner stood ready, axe in hand. The men stripped Paul, tied him, kneeling upright to a low pillar which exposed his back and his neck. The lectors beat him with rods for the last time. He groaned and bled from his nose and his mouth, and then without a hint of hesitation, the executioner frowned as he swung the blade down swiftly, hitting its mark with a dull thud. And the head of the greatest preacher of the ages rolled upon the ground."
In that brutal moment, Paul the Apostle went from the imperial city of Rome to the celestial city of Heaven. And he was crowned, and he received the reward, that he wrote about in these last words. I am so impressed with the life of Paul the Apostle, I have studied on him, I have been on places, and traveled places and taken people where he has been, love his -- I am convicted by Paul. I thank God for him.
Heavenly Father as we have heard, the last will and testimony of a great man of faith, one who never flinched, did get discouraged. But got back up, threat, whip, shipwreck, prison, hardship of the journey did not stay him, but he move forward always in your will, always believing there was somebody else, who needed to hear and another church that needed to be encouraged, edified, instructed. And he left us with quite a legacy, of a man who ran the race, finished the course. And Father, we just think of our own life and do pray that, by your spirit, by your grace, you would keep us. We have that wonderful promise that, he who has begun a good work, will continue to perform it until the day of Christ. Thank you for a faithful flock. Keep us all serving, following. In Jesus' name, Amen!