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May 15. 2022
“The First Epistle of Timothy: Part Five”
1 Timothy 1:18-20 (RSV)
18 This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among them Hymenae'us and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Lord, God, YHWH, we beseech Thee in the name of Your one and only begotten Son Jesus Christ, that Your Holy Spirit would permeate every fabric of our beings, guiding us in every area of our lives, to LOVE You, to serve You, to reach out to the Lost and needy of this world in compassion, tenderness, and in great resolve to win many to You Kingdom for their sake and in keeping with Your LOVE for all of Your creation. This day and every day, teach us through You holy, inerrant, infallible Word, Your only Bible the truths that must always be part of our lives, now and forever and ever, in Jesus name, Amen and Eternally Amen!!!!!!!
The first section of this passage is highly compressed. What lies behind it is this. There must have been a meeting of the prophets of the Church. They were men known to be within the confid1ence and the counsels of God.
Amos 3:7 (RSV)
7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.
This meeting thought about the situation which was threatening the Church and came to the conclusion that Timothy was the man to deal with it. We can see the prophets acting in exactly the same way in,
Acts 13:1-3 (RSV)
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyre'ne, Man'a-en a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
The Church was faced with the great decision whether or not to take the gospel out to the Gentiles; and it was to the prophets that there came the message of the Holy Spirit, saying:
Acts 13:2 (RSV)
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
That was what had happened to Timothy. He had been marked out by the prophets as the man to deal with the situation in the Church. It may well have been that he shrank from the greatness of the task which faced him, and here Paul encourages him with certain considerations.
(i) Paul says to him: "You are a man who has been chosen and you cannot refuse your task."
Something like that happened to John Knox. He had been teaching in St. Andrews. His teaching was supposed to be private but many came to it, for he was obviously a man with a message. So the people urged him "that he would take the preaching place upon him. But he utterly refused, alleging that he would not run where God had not called him.... Whereupon they privily among themselves advising, having with them in council Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, they concluded that they would give a charge to the said John, and that publicly by the mouth of their preacher."
So Sunday came and Knox was in Church and John Rough was preaching. "The said John Rough, preacher, directed his words to the said John Knox, saying:
'Brother, ye shall not be offended, albeit that I speak unto you that which I have in charge, even from all those that are here present, which is this: In the name of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of these that presently call you by my mouth, I charge you that you refuse not this holy vocation, but... that you take upon you the public office and charge of preaching, even as you look to avoid God's heavy displeasure, and desire that he shall multiply his graces with you.'
And in the end he said to those that were present:
'Was not this your charge to me? And do ye not approve this vocation?'
'It was: and we approve it.'
Whereat the said John, abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears, and withdrew himself to his chamber. His countenance and behavior, from that day till the day that he was compelled to present himself to the public place of preaching, did sufficiently declare the grief and trouble of his heart; for no man saw any sign of mirth in him, neither yet had he pleasure to accompany any man, many days together."
John Knox was chosen; he did not want to answer the call; but he had to, for the choice had been made by God. Years afterwards the Regent Morton uttered his famous epitaph by Knox's graveside:
"In respect that he bore God's message, to whom he must make account for the same, he (albeit he was weak and an unworthy creature, and a fearful man) feared not the faces of men."
The consciousness of being chosen gave him courage.
1 Corinthians 9:16 (RSV)
16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
So too it is with many who are called, the humility of knowing you are unworthy of the call to preach, yet the glorious compulsion from within because of God’s most blessed call on your life!!!
So Paul says to Timothy:
"You have been chosen; you cannot let down God and man."
To every one of us there comes God's choosing; and when we are summoned to some work for Him, we dare not refuse it.
(ii) It may be that Paul was saying to Timothy:
"Be true to your name."
Timothy—its full form is Timotheos)—is composed of two Greek words, time which means "honor," and theos which means "God," and so means "honor to God." If we are called by the name Christian, one of Christ's folk, to that name we must be true.
(iii) Finally, Paul says to Timothy:
"I entrust this charge to you".
The word which he uses for to entrust is paratithesthai, which is the word used of entrusting something valuable to someone's safe keeping. It is used, for instance, of making a deposit in a bank, or of entrusting someone to another's care. It always implies that a trust has been reposed in someone for which he will be called to account. So Paul says:
"Timothy, into your hands I am placing a sacred trust. See that you do not fail."
God rests His trust in us; into our hands He puts His honor and His Church. We too must see to it that we do not fail.
What then is entrusted to Timothy? He is sent off to fight a good campaign. The picture of life as a campaign is one which has always fascinated men's thoughts. Maximus of Tyre said:
"God is the general; life is the campaign; man is the soldier."
"For me to live, my dear Lucilius, is to be a soldier."
When a man became a follower of the goddess Isis and was initiated into the Mysteries connected with the goddess' name, the summons to him was:
"Enroll yourself in the sacred soldiery of Isis."
There are three things to be noted.
(i) It is not to a battle that we are summoned; it is to a campaign. Life is one long campaign, a service from which there is no release, not a short, sharp struggle after which a man can lay aside his arms and rest in peace. To change the metaphor, life is not a sprint; it is a marathon race. It is there that the danger enters in. It is necessary to be forever on the watch.
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
The temptations of life never cease their search for a chink in the armor of the Christian. It is one of the commonest dangers in life to proceed in a series of spasms. We must remember that we are summoned to a campaign which goes on as long as life does.
(ii) It is to a fine campaign that Timothy is summoned. Here again we have the word kalos of which the Pastorals are so fond. It does not mean only something which is good and strong; it means something which is also winsome and LOVELY. The soldier of Christ is not a conscript who serves grimly and grudgingly; he is a volunteer who serves with a certain knightly chivalry. He is not the slave of duty, but the servant of joy.
(iii) Timothy is commanded to take with him two weapons of equipment. (a) He is to take FAITH. Even when things are at their darkest, he must have faith in the essential rightness of his cause and in the ultimate triumph of God. It was faith which kept up John Knox when he was in despair. Once when he was a slave on the galleys, the ship came in sight of St. Andrews. He was so weak that he had to be lifted up bodily in order to see. They showed him the church steeple and asked if he knew it. "Yes," he said, "I know it well: and I am fully persuaded, how weak that ever I now appear, that I shall not depart this life till that my tongue shall glorify His godly name in the same place." He describes his feelings in 1554 when he had to flee the country to escape the vengeance of Mary Tudor.
"Not only the ungodly, but even my faithful brethren, yea, and my own self, that is, all natural understanding, judged my cause to be irremediable. The frail flesh, oppressed with fear and pain, desireth deliverance, ever abhorring and drawing back from obedience giving. O Christian brethren, I write by experience.... I know the grudging and murmuring complaints of the flesh; I know the anger, wrath, and indignation which it conceiveth against God, calling all His promises in doubt, and being ready every hour utterly to fall from God. Against which remains only faith."
The Christian soldier needs in the darkest hour the faith that will not shrink. (b) He is to take the defense of a good conscience. That is to say, the Christian soldier must at least try to live in accordance with his own doctrine. The virtue is gone out of a man's message when his conscience condemns him as he speaks.
The passage closes with a stern rebuke to two members of the Church who have injured the Church, grieved Paul, and made shipwreck of their own lives. Hymenaeus is mentioned again in,
2 Timothy 2:17 (RSV)
17 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenae'us and Phile'tus,
Alexander may well be the Alexander who is referred to in,
2 Timothy 4:14 (RSV)
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will requite him for his deeds.
Paul has three complaints against them.
(i) They had rejected the guidance of conscience. They had allowed their own desires to speak with more persuasiveness than the voice of God.
(ii) They had relapsed into evil practices. Once they had abandoned God, life had become soiled and debased. When God went from life, beauty went along with Him.
(iii) They had taken to false teaching. Again it was almost inevitable. When a man takes the wrong way, his first instinct is to find excuses for himself. He takes the Christian teaching and twists it to suit himself. Out of the right he finds perverted arguments to justify the wrong. He finds arguments in the words of Christ to justify the ways of the devil. The moment a person disobeys the voice of conscience, their conduct becomes debased and their thinking twisted.
So Paul goes on to say that he has "handed them over to Satan." What is the meaning of this terrible phrase? There are three possibilities.
(i) He may be thinking of the Jewish practice of excommunication. According to synagogue practice, if a man was an evil-doer he was first publicly rebuked. If that was ineffective, he was banished from the synagogue for a period of thirty days. If he was still stubbornly unrepentant, he was put under the ban, which made him a person accursed, debarred from the society of men and the fellowship of God. In such a case a man might well be said to be handed over to Satan.
(ii) He may be saying that he has barred them from the Church and turned them loose in the world. In a heathen society it was inevitable that men should draw a hard and fast line between the Church and the world. The Church was God's territory; the world was Satan's; and to be debarred from the Church was to be handed over to that territory which was under the sway of Satan. The phrase may mean that these two troublers of the Church were abandoned to the world.
(iii) The third explanation is the most likely of the three. Satan was held to be responsible for human suffering and pain. A man in the Corinthian Church had been guilty of the terrible sin of incest. Paul's advice was that he should be delivered to Satan,
1 Corinthians 5:5 (RSV)
5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The idea is that the Church should pray for some physical chastisement to fall on that man so that, by the pain of his body, he might be brought to the senses of his mind. In Job's case it was Satan who brought the physical suffering upon him,
Job 2:6-7 (RSV)
6 And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your power; only spare his life." 7 So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD, and afflicted Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
In the New Testament itself we have the terrible end of Ananias and Sapphira,
Acts 5:5 (RSV)
5 When Anani'as heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
Acts 5:10 (RSV)
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
The blindness which fell upon Elymas because of his opposition to the gospel,
Acts 13:8-11 (RSV)
8 But El'ymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.
9 But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind and unable to see the sun for a time." Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.
It may well be that it was Paul's prayer that these two men should be subjected to some painful visitation which would be a punishment and a warning.
That is all the more likely because it is Paul's hope that they will be, not obliterated and destroyed, but disciplined out of their evil ways. To Paul, as it ought to be to us, punishment was never mere vindictive vengeance but always corrective discipline, never meant simply to hurt but always meant TO CURE!!!
How many of us get joy out of the Sinner suffering, and little out of the Sinner’s redemption???
Submitted by: Dr. Harold Chris Smith, sbc