Sunday, June 04, 2006


1 Timothy 6:12-19 To Serve, Honour And Obey

This is a Difficult passage.
Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
What is this Confession? There is our first problem. I think this is solved in the context of the passage. The passage is about the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ; “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords”
What was the Lord Jesus’ confession before Pontius Pilate?
John 18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
He was born to be King. Remember the Wise men?
Matt 2:1,2 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
John 6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
He was celebrated as king. Remember the truiumphal entry and the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah?
Matt 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
This was why the soldiers mocked Him.
Matt 27:29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
This was the charge for which the Romans crucified Him.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
There was once a mass gathering of Student volunteer Missionary movement held a great conference in Liverpool. Delegates from the Japanese Christian Union at the university absent, so sent a telegram, 3 words “Make Jesus King!”
Make Jesus King, through Him we will live, Our souls and our bodies to Him we will give.
His praises we’ll sing, and others we’ll bring, Till the whole of Creation shall make Jesus King!”
And what of this word Commandment? It occurs three times in this passage in 1Timothy 6:
13 I charge you in the presence of God, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty,
1Tim 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
1John 2:7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
John 13:33 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
1. Obey His Commands
James 2: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Your salvation is not like a row boat crossing the ocean of this life with two oars “faith ‘ And “Works” that gets us to heaven. Its grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone! Sola Gratia Sola Fide Sola Christus of the reformation.
It’s faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.
Eph 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,
Titus 3:4-8 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Grace motivates works.
I came across a story of a Christian visitor (I think an English visitor) to Korea. He was touring the countryside with a local pastor, when they came across a young man pulling a plough through a paddy field. And it looked like the older man who was steering it was probably his father. "They must be very poor," said the tourist. "In fact," said the pastor, "they used to have an ox. But they sold it last year to raise money for the work of the church in this area." The English tourist didn't quite know what to say in response to this, and (like most English people) just said something that would defuse the situation: "It must be a great sacrifice for them." "Actually," said the pastor, "they didn't see it that way. They were just very grateful to God for having given them an ox in the first place, so that they could sell it,."
Paul begins this section with the word "command" which means "give strict orders." What follows are not merely suggestions for Christian living but direct commandments from the "King of kings and Lord of lords who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light" (vv.15b-16). We are not to lightly skim over this. We are to take its truths to heart, let them penetrate the selfishness of our culture and conform us to the image of Christ.
Notice the phrase "rich in this present age." Literally it translates "the rich [ones] in this present time." This suggests that is it possible to be rich in this age and poor in the next as well as poor now but rich then. Jesus' parable of The Rich Man in Hades in Luke 16:19-31 illustrates this well. The "rich man" was "clothed in purple and fine linen and fares sumptuously every day" but in the next found himself "in torments." Conversely, Lazarus was a "beggar, full of sores who was laid at his gate." He ate crumbs and the dogs liked his wounds, yet he was "carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom." The teaching is not that all rich people go to hell and not all poor people go to heaven. The point Paul is making here is that it is possible to be "rich in this present age" and to be rich in the age to come as well. It is possible to use our present wealth in such a way that we lay up eternal treasure in heaven for the next age.
With that in mind, let's learn in this verse three PERILS or dangers of wealth:
PERIL #1: Misguided Thoughts. The first danger for those of us who have more than we really need has to do with the way we think. Paul says we are commanded not to be "haughty." "Haughty" is an archaic term that means "proud, arrogant, egotistical, vain." What is even more telling is the Greek word translated "haughty." It is the word hupselophronein. This is a compound word. Hupselos means "high, exalted, valued." Phroneo means "to think, have in mind." Thus the idea here is to the misguided thought of thinking too highly of one's self. Though we know it is wrong, it is so easy to think that we are better than someone else just because we have more money than they do. The tendency is the more we have the prouder we become. Though we all have a degree of wealth, it seems the ones with the most are the most arrogant. Proverbs 28:11 says, "The rich man is wise in his own eyes." Do you ever watch today's celebrities on TV talk shows? Occasionally I see them wade into the treacherous waters of politics and world events. They almost always show their stupidity. Do you remember the fellow who played the President of the USA in a popular tv show commenting on the Iraq war? Somebody said he should be reminded he doesn’t really live in the West Wing. Because you are nice-looking, a good actor or a good musician you can earn a lot of money. However, all the money in the world will not make you intelligent, it will just make you more arrogant. Christians must not buy into this philosophy!
PERIL #2: Misplaced Trust. In addition to not being "haughty," we are commanded not to "trust in uncertain riches" but rather to "trust in the living God." In other words, we are not to put our confidence in the gifts we receive but in the God who gives us all good things. Trust the Giver, not the gifts.
Proverbs 11:28 says, "He who trusts in his riches will fall." Proverbs 23:4-5 says, "Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven." Jesus illustrated this truth in the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:16-21. The rich farmer had such a bumper crop that he tore down his barns to build bigger barns. He thought he would have "many years" to enjoy his wealth but God said, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?"
John Gotti, the "Dapper Don" of the New York Mafia died in prison at age 61. For years he pretended to be a plumbing supply salesman while he intimidated and murdered his way to the top of the Mafia. He lived in plush homes, was chauffeured in limousines and wore two thousand-dollar suits. He was finally convicted by virtue of FBI tapes and lost all his wealth. Like the farmer in the parable, all that he had is now worthless to him.
PERIL #3: Misused Treasure. Don't miss the last part of verse 17. Paul urges us to "trust in the living God" but notice how he describes God as the One "who gives us richly all things to enjoy."
God wants us to "enjoy" all the things He gives us in this life. We need to avoid two extreme forms of Christianity. One is ASCETISICM, the denial of any possessions. The Lord does not require Christians to take a vow of poverty. The other extreme is THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL. Many false teachers twist Scripture to say that God wants all believers to be wealthy and healthy and if we are not it is because we haven't taken the appropriate steps of faith. Both extremes are wrong. If He has given you much, enjoy it, be thankful and use it wisely. If He has given you little, be content and know that "godliness with contentment is great gain" (v.6).
Isn't it liberating to know that God wants us to "enjoy" the blessings of life? Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, "Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God."
God wants us to "enjoy" His gifts. God wants us relish the taste of a good enchilada or a bowl of homemade ice cream. He wants us to enjoy the occasional luxury of sleeping in on a Saturday morning or a quiet nap on a Sunday afternoon. He wants us to be happy about being able to pay our bills. He wants us to admire the beauty of a sunset, the mountains' majesty and the waves breaking on the seashore. All of these pleasures should not be an end in themselves but should point us to the far
Command #1: Do Good. Then Paul says, "Let them [more appropriately, `let us'] do good." We are not called just to be good but to "do good." This is not merely a state of being but a state of action. In the same way that God uses His unfathomable wealth to "do good," so we are to use our limited resources for the same purpose.
Command #2: Be Rich in Good Works. We are not to merely seek wealth in currency, investments and possessions but in the good that we can do but be "rich in good works" which is the same as being "rich toward God" (Luke 21:21). We are to use our money to bless others. The Bible teaches we are to provide for our families, for widows, for pastors and for anyone who is in need. Wealth can be measured in much more than a financial portfolio. In The Parable of the Rich Fool, Jesus said, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15).
Command #3: Be Ready to Give. "Ready to give" meaning "liberal" or "generous." We are not to give just a little but we are to look for opportunities to give more and more. Of course the great New Testament example of such generosity is the churches of Macedonia. Paul wrote about them in 2 Corinthians 8:1-4:
Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
These churches were not filled with wealthy people but with believers in "deep poverty." Yet they gave "according to their ability" and God was able to supernaturally multiply their generosity so that they could give "beyond their ability." If the Macedonian believers could generously give out of poverty how much more should wealthy believers generously give?
Command #4: Be Willing to Share. "Willing to share" translates koinonikous which is from koinonia, the common Greek word for "fellowship." In this sense it literally means "to partner with" or "to have things in common." As believers we share a handshake, a hug or a pew. We may share a songbook or read from the same Bible. We love to share meals. In the same way, we are to be willing to share our money. William Barclay remarked: The teaching of the Christian ethic is, not that wealth is a sin, but that it is a very great responsibility. If a man's wealth ministers to nothing but his won pride and enriches no one but himself, it becomes his ruination, because it impoverishes his soul. But if he uses it to bring help and comfort to others, in becoming poorer, he really becomes richer. In time and eternity "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
When we are not arrogant about what we have, when we trust the Giver instead of the gifts, when we learn to enjoy and to employ our wealth for the glory of God then we receive the promise of verse 19, we will be "storing up" for ourselves "a good foundation for the time to come."
"Foundation" carries the meaning of a savings fund. We are trying to teach our young daughters to save money in their savings accounts. We want them to learn not to waste money but to save it up to use later for automobiles and college. In the same way when we give we are saving for heaven!
You see, God is not against investments. He is against bad investments. He is against us spending our money, time and resources on temporary comforts and securities that produce no long-term dividends. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When we willingly, cheerfully, generously give away what He has given us we "lay hold of eternal life," we evidence that we have "eternal life." Lost people are selfish.
2. Honour Your Commander
14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time--he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
What we believe about God will determine our values, our priorities and the way we live our lives. The great theologian and philosopher A.W. Tozer once wrote:
“.the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep hearts conceives God to be like. Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.”
I believe the Apostle Paul would have agreed with Tozer. That's why this final chapter repeats what we saw in the first chapter, a doxology, an expression of worship (1Tim 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.). Paul is huddled over his desk writing by olive oil lamp and then he throws back his head in an expression of praise to the Majesty on High. I think Paul wrote like he preached. As he warmed to his subject, his passion rose in crescendo. We see that here. As with true worship, there is much teaching about the nature of God. Paul was at the same time worshipping God, teaching theology and shaping Timothy's belief system.
What is God like? Not only is He Present and Powerful, soon to return,
A. Our God is Invincible (vv.14b-15a).
In verse 14, Paul speaks of Timothy keeping the commandment "until our Lord Jesus' Christ's appearing." Verse 15 connects to that thought by adding, "which He will manifest in His own time." Everything in redemptive history and thus human history will culminate in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Paul didn't know the timing of the Lord's coming. Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." What is certain is that the day and hour are set. He is coming "in His own time." He will not delay. Hebrews 10:37 says, "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry." We therefore should live in preparation.
B. Our God is Blessed (v.15b). Paul says next "He who is the blessed." "Blessed" is makarios, meaning "happy" or "content." God is not a grumpy dad. He is an ultimately happy Father. He is not frustrated. He is not anxious. His divine nature ensures that He is always at peace and satisfied in His own glory.
C. Our God is Sovereign (v.15c).
The reason God is "blessed" or happy, the reasons He is not frustrated or anxious is because He is the "only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords." "Potentate" is an archaic word for "ruler" that translates from dunastes from the root of dunamis, a word for power or authority. From it we get our words "dynamite" and "dynamic." Therefore He is not just "King of kings and Lord of lords," He is not merely a ruler, He is the ALL-POWEFUL Ruler. The NASV translates it "Sovereign." He controls every nuance of creation. We don't worry or fret because our loving God is also our sovereign God.
D. Our God is Immortal (v.16a).
Verse 16 says that our God "alone has immortality." Only God is absolutely immortal. God created angels to live forever. He created men and gives to them the gift of eternal life. Yet God is distinct in that He has always been and will always be. Other immortal beings receive their immortality from Him. The Greek word is athanasian which is the compound of a meaning "non" and thanatos meaning "death." Put together the word means "deathless." God is self-existent. He depends on no one or no thing for life. Therefore He is incapable of death. Psalm 90:2 says, "Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." Habakkuk 1:12 asks, "Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One?"
E. Our God is Holy (v.16b).
Lastly, Paul says that our God is "dwelling in unapproachable light whom no man has seen or can see." This describes His terrible mystery, His utter holiness. We say God is transcendent which means He is high above us and far beyond us. The only way we could know Him or anything about Him is that He has revealed Himself to us. Psalm 104:1-2 says: Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.
When Moses asked to see God's glory, the Lord replied: "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live" (Ex.33:19-20).
Hebrews 12:29 says, "For our God is a consuming fire." Isaiah got a glimpse of the Lord in His holiness and it changed him forever (cf. Is.6). Here Paul says that the Lord is literally housed in unapproachable light. "No man has seen or can see" Him because we could not stand before His holiness and live. Only when we have been completely glorified, body, soul and spirit will we see Him face to face (cr. Mt.5:8: 1 Cor.13:12).
Isaiah's vision of the Lord high and lifted up in the temple radically changed him forever. He had been purified by the ember of holiness and readily cried, "Here am I, send me!" It is the understanding of God's majesty that equips one to become a "man of God."
Paul strongly emphasized and laid upon Timothy the title "man of God." Perhaps part of his logic was to keep the young pastor's eyes on the God of the man. Because though our responsibility is great and though the task is difficult, the power of our God is greater still!
Herb Elliott was Olympic champion at the metric mile in 1960; in his entire career he never lost a mile or 1500m race; and he held the world records for both events. He probably trained harder than any miler up to that time. But Elliott retired when he was only 22. He achieved his goals, and then quit.
Now, we can't fault him for retiring. But as Christians we are training not only to achieve a goal, but to become like Christ in the process of living in this world. We are training not only for heaven, but for the rest of our life on earth. And we must learn to be thankful for our trials, to rest in God in the midst of those trials, and, yes, to enjoy the process, to "consider it pure joy" when we're faced with trials.
Stay focussed on the Lord Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Roger Bannister is best known as the first man to break four minutes in the mile. But Bannister's finest hour came four months later, at the 1954 Commonwealth Games. In the interim, the Australian John Landy had broken Bannister's world record. This was the first meeting between two runners who had both broken four minutes in the mile. Bannister was known for his fast kick, so Landy took the pace out hard at the beginning, passing halfway with a ten yard lead. Seeing the gap, many observers thought that Bannister was finished. Once one loses contact with the runner ahead in a track race, it is very difficult to close the gap. But listen to Bannister recall his thoughts at the time:
“I quickened my stride, trying at the same time to stay relaxed. I won back the first yard, then each succeeding yard, until his lead was halved by the time we reached the back straight on the third lap. I had now connected myself to Landy again, though he was still 5 yards ahead. I tried to imagine myself attached to him by some invisible cord. With each stride I drew the cord tighter, and reduced his lead. I fixed myself to Landy like a shadow.” The result: Bannister ran by Landy in the final straightaway, setting a new world record and winning Commonwealth gold. Note the terms he uses in his description of the race: he imagined a cord connecting him to Landy, he focussed on the runner ahead, and drew himself closer.
You are to fix your gaze on the Lord. Remember who He is! This will motivate you to keep the commandment and to do the hard thing, to share.
There are three reasons for obedience. A slave obeys because he has to. An employee obeys because he needs to. But a loving son obeys because he wants to. So many of us live like slaves, when Jesus has said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).
I could not work my soul to save, that work my Lord has done, But I will work like any slave for love of God’s dear Son.
Your First Duty, responsiblility and Delight is to Honour Your Commander.
3. The Convictions That Empower Service
The first motivation is the PRESENSE of God. Paul reminds Timothy that his life and ministry would be played out "in the sight of God." Hebrews 4:13 says, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Satan throws many temptations before God's man. He's tempted with greed, laziness, egotism and a host of other ills. He must constantly remember that although the church doesn't see everything, God does.
The second motivation is the POWER of God. Paul reminds Timothy that God "gives life to all things." He is to be about God's business under God's authority. God is in charge. God is watching. Even if he dies as a martyr while doing his duty, God will raise him up again. Psalm 118:6 asks, "The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
The third motivation is the PATTERN of Christ. Paul reminds Timothy that his life is also lived "before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate." In Matthew 27:11, Pilate asked Jesus, "Are You the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered "It is as you say." 1 Peter 2:23 says of Jesus that He "committed Himself to Him who judges righteously."
The fourth motivation is the APPEARING of Christ. In verse 14 Paul reminds Timothy that he was to keep on keeping the commandment "until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing." "Appearing" comes from epiphaneias. Listen to what Heibert says of Paul's motivation:
Paul kept the truth of the Lord's return in the foreground of his thinking and hopes. While Paul eagerly looked for that event, he never pretended to know the date of the return. The overwhelming magnitude of the Second Coming made it seem near and shrivel up all intervening time, like some vast mountain, which, as it rears its gigantic peak above the horizon, seems near, though actually [it is] a long distance away.

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