Thursday, May 04, 2006


1 Timothy 4:6-16 How To Stay Spiritually Healthy

In one of Warren Wiersbe's books, he recalls a time in his boyhood when he was sitting in a grade school assembly program listening to an aged doctor who promised to tell the secret of his long, healthy life. Wiersbe writes that this doctor had been the physician to one of the Presidents of the United States, and he was extremely interested to find his secret to a life of success and excellence. He said, "All of us sat there with great expectation, hoping to learn the secret of a long life. At the climax of his address, the doctor told us, 'drink eight glasses of water a day!'" That brought to mind a conversation that one pastor had with Miss Bertha Smith on one occasion. Bertha Smith was a missionary to China and endured great persecution during the days before the Second World War. She was a great woman of God; a great woman of prayer. I was thankful for the opportunity to talk with her, to pick her brain and to find out the secret to her success and excellence and power in the Christian life. She lived and ministered into her 99th year. I asked her, "Miss Bertha, what is the secret to your long life and powerful ministry?" She responded by saying, "I pray three hours a day, walk three miles a day and never eat anything that tastes good."

How can we stay spiritually healthy?

You might think this addressed only to ministers. In fact the word minister is used here, 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, HCSB If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.

It is addressed to us all. If we want to be spiritually healthy, to hear the Lord’s “Well done thou good and faithful servant, then we must get with the programme. “get with the program!” – fitness training circuit, at teacher’s college.

1. Give Yourself To The Word.

Ray Stedman: “You hold in your hands the greatest book ever written, the most amazing book in all the world, the only place in all humanity, in all human history, where you are given the bedrock, undiluted truth about life. The Word of God gives you the insights of God into life, the explanation of who you are, what God intended you to be and what will fulfill you. No book is more important to learn, to feed upon, than the Word of God. It is a big book; it takes a lot of reading, a lot of studying, a lot of thinking and meditating to grasp what it says, but when you do, it will change your life; it will lead you into fullness, freedom, liberty and beauty. That is what the Bible is for. So to feed upon this word is tremendously significant and important. That is why Paul stresses this with Timothy, reminding him of it.”


If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.


H A Ironside in his commentary on 1Timothy remarks about Old Wives Tales, the imaginary ideas that ignorant people devoid of spiritual insight might be inclined to circulate. Both madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Annie Bessant, the co-founders of Theospohy were old wives. Mrs. Ellen G White’s fantastic “Sanctuary theory” the basis of Seventh day Adventism is an old wives’ fable. Mary baker Patterson Glover Eddy (married who knows how many times) was an old wife who mothered what she falsely called “Christian Science”. These teachings are all contrary to the Word of God. Such have a special attraction for women of a particular type.

BUILD SPIRITUAL MUSCLE. They "exercise" or gymnasticize themselves "toward godliness." They understand that there is some profit in "bodily exercise" but there is great promise both now and in eternity for growing in "godliness." Believers from the beginning of the church age have accepted that this is a "faithful saying" (vv.7b-9).

Every Greek city had a gymnasium and Ephesus was no different. Part of the educational requirement for young Greek men between the ages of 16-18 was physical training. If possible, Greeks were even more in love with the flesh than our modern culture. They were infatuated with the human body as well as athletic events. To paraphrase, Paul is saying, "Gymnasticize yourself toward godliness."

In the same way other young men were working out to strengthen and build up their physical bodies, Timothy was to work out to build up and strengthen his spiritual life.

Sit-ups Sit under the teaching of the Word of God every week. In Acts 20:7 we read that the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread and hear the teachings of the Apostle Paul.

100-yard dash Be ready to run to the aid of a hurting soul and demonstrate God's love. We were not created to live and function alone. We need one another for help and support. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that "Two are better than one … for if they fall, one will lift up his companion."

Push-ups A traditional push-up strengthens your chest and shoulder muscles. Lifting up a person in need builds your spiritual muscles. The Father of mercies "comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God' (2 Corinthians 1:4). Christians who have been encouraged by God should be the world's best encouragers.

Deep knee-bends If you want the Lord's blessing on your life, pray. Paul urges us to "continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it" (Colossians 4:2). It takes effort and commitment to confess your sins before God, and to pray for guidance for yourself and others. Prayer is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it leads to spiritual fitness and vitality.

Lunges Lunge into Christian service. When God shows you a need that you can fill, get involved and see the Holy Spirit work through you. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Stretching Stretch out in faith.

Walking Walk in the Word daily. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Reading the Bible is like exercise. Some days you don't feel like doing it, but you know it's good for you. Discipline yourself for godliness by making it a habit to read the Bible every day.

Being consistent in practicing these moves of an active faith is key because a "stop-start" exercise regimen rarely produces lasting results. If you want to make a new start in your spiritual fitness routine, consult your physician — the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you practice daily spiritual disciplines that will increase your faith.

Runners come to a point where they can hardly put one foot in front of another. But as they press on, their energy is replenished, and they finish the race with a great sense of accomplishment. Likewise, the road of dynamic Christian living requires perseverance.

The Bible provides incredible incentive to persevere: "[T]rain yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Unlike bodily exercise, the benefits of spiritual fitness last into eternity.

2. Give Yourself To The Work

Out of Greek history comes the story of how young Alciabiades, was bluntly telling his uncle Pericles an eldely genius, how Athens ought to be governed. He listened with ever decreasing patience. Irked by the young idealist, he said,

Alciabiades, at your age I used to talk just as you are talking now.” Not wincing a bit, he looked the great Athenian right in the eye and replied, “Pericles, how I should like to have known you when you were at your best!”

Standing at the eginning of the 21st Century, the informed observer would have to admit that the church has not been at its evangelical best. There is much work to be done! Calvin Miller tells the following story: "I remember some years ago I was over in Millard one day having a cup of coffee with a policeman. He had a can of mace in a holster on his side. He opened the holster and handed me the can of mace. I had never seen one before in my whole life and I was amazed. It looked kind of like an austere can of clergical Aqua Net. I asked him, 'How does this work?'" He said, 'Well, you take the cap off and spray it in somebody's face.' "'Basically, what does it do?' I asked. 'Does it knock them out?' "'No, they're still conscious but inert.'
"'Man, I replied, 'I've been pastor of a Baptist church for 20 years. I understand conscious but inert. In the church, 80 percent of the people are always watching 20 percent of the people do the work.'" Do you think that describes our church? I think we're conscious but inert. I think a lot of us have drifted into an easy going complacency.
Perhaps you heard about this elderly woman who lived way back in the hills of
North Carolina, and she operated a little old country store. This store had everything from feather pillows to horse collars, and everything from “Solvo” to “Blue Bags”. It just so happened that this old store had a creek that ran behind it. It was just a tiny creek, and there were no fish in it. But one day an old farmer came by and saw the dear old woman sitting at the back of the store with a fishing pole in her hand, and the cork was floating on top of that little creek. The old farmer said, "Aunt Lizzie, what do you think you're doing? There are no fish in that creek." She said, "I know better than anybody that there are no fish in that creek, but it's just so convenient."

Paul wasn’t interested in making life convenient for young Christians. He made life demanding. Not only are young believers to give themselves to the word, they are also to give themselves to the work!

“In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe 11 Command and teach these things. 12 No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. “

Labor. There is to be something strenuous about our work for the Lord.

labor and strive "Labor" and strive and agonize over your work because you know your work is not in vain because you have a "living God" who is the "Savior" over all men whether they believe or not but is "especially" and eternally the Savior of "those who believe" (v.10).

“example” There is to be something spiritual about our work for the Lord.

in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. What you are speaks so loud that I can’t hear a word you are saying. When I hear of some so called Christian men involving themselves in porn, it weakens our work. When I hear of some so called Christians getting drunk. What do you really think the Lord thinks of that? You are hindering people coming to Christ if you live like that! When I hear some Christians swearing and blaspheming it makes me shudder. Is there any wonder there is no revival?

“public reading, exhortation, and teaching” There is to be something central about our work for the Lord.

R A Torrey: evangelistic crusade, got talking to a gentleman, “Are you a Christian?”

“I consider myself as such.” A dubious answer at best. “Good” Torrey said, “are you bringing other men to Christ?”

“That’s not my business. I am a lawyer. That’s your business.”

“Please read this. Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

“Ah yes, but they were apostles. Ministers like yourself”

“I think you are mistaken sir. Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

W.E. Sangster of the great Central Methodist Mission London : “The simplest way to embarrass a normal congregation is to ask them two ordinary questions. 1. When did you last lead someone to Christ? 2. When did you last try? But you may say.. “I don’t know how.”

Paul says how even the simplest person can do it. public reading, exhortation, and teaching

“Ah” you may say “I am not a teacher!” the first two jobs are not those of teachers. All you got to do is read the scriptures aloud. Let the Holy Spirit do His work through the Word of God. Just read them aloud.

Exhortation? Ask someone to become a Christian. Just ask them. Keep on asking. Sooner or later you got to find a fish that will bite.

“gift” There is to be something supernatural about our work for the Lord.

Evidently, Timothy had grown to doubt his ability. Maybe he wondered whether he belonged in ministry or not. Maybe he was like the surgeon I heard about recently. He had one unhappy situation where a woman died during a gall bladder operation. Another came to him for the same operation, and he refused to operate. He had lost his nerve. Maybe Timothy had a few knocks. Maybe he didn’t think he was all that successful. Maybe he thought only Paul was able to be used by God to lead people to the Lord. And he was packing it in. Maybe you have been doing the same. You think you can’t teach a Sunday school class. Maybe you think you can’t teach a Youth group. Friend, God has not withdrawn his gifts from you. Unless you have failed for some moral reason, you can still do that which God has called you to do. Exercise those spiritual gifts He has entrusted to you. Look at your gifts. Look at your calling. Look at how other godly people have placed their confidence in you. Spiritual gifts have to be exercised and cultivated. Preaching didn't hit me like a lightening bolt. I had to learn to study, learn to outline and learn to deliver the message. However, all my learning stretched the giftedness that God had already placed in me.

"Progress" comes from a Greek word that was used to describe an army advancing across a field of battle. It was also used in the context of an explorer blazing a trail across new territory. There is to be something that steps forward about our work for the Lord. We have a lot of lost time to pick up on. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Churches generally throughout Australia are going backwards in number. Some think if we do what the Pentecostals are doing we will make up lost time. No we wont. We need to be doing what God is doing. We need to stand by these prescriptions. The prescription of scripture is every member evangelizing. Every member reaching and teaching the lost. Every one of us moving forward. Do you remember that 60 years ago churches used to talk about a great forward movement. We need to make that move now. No one else will. We must. Will you commit yourself to leading people to the Lord Jesus? a great forward movement. Write those words on your heart. A great forward movement! Pray for it! Labor for it! Speak for it! Let’s make progress! You will save both yourself and your hearers.

“Be conscientious” There is to be something sincere about our work for the Lord.

You are to be totally engulfed in ministry. Live and breathe to teach, preach, pray, evangelize, counsel, and work for the Lord. This is why you drive a cab. This is why you go to the shops. This is why I do funerals. This is why you work where you work. You will save both yourself and your hearers

“Persevere” in these things, There is to be something strong-minded about our work for the Lord.

It’s not going to be easy. This is strong muscular Christianity. This is not wimpish religion! This takes stamina and determination. The Lord Jesus took your whipping. The Lord Jesus endured the cross. The Lord Jesus took that for you. Can’t you persevere a little for His sake? You will save both yourself and your hearers

There is to be something saving about our work for the Lord.

persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. “

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