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Why Preach on 1 Timothy (2)?
The reasons I gave in the February newsletter are still valid. 1) We will see how the gospel permeates every part of Christian living – both as individuals and as we assemble together. 2) We will learn the priorities God has for his church. 3) We will learn how God wants the church to be ordered and organised.
I recently came across an article on preaching 1 Timothy and it does a better job than I had so I am summarising it for you. The author is William Taylor (St Helen’s, Bishopsgate). The gospel aim of 1 Timothy is to produce preaching that, ‘shapes and orders an entire congregation so it is fit for purpose as an assembly of God, holding up and holding out that gospel to the local community.’ The church is to function as the ‘plausibility structure’ for the gospel. So someone who hears the gospel and encounters the local church is to see something which makes real and visible what he has so far only heard about. We know this from John 13: 34 + 35 and the same truth is in mind in 1 Timothy 3: 14 – 16, the church is to function as ‘a pillar and buttress of truth’.
What are the factors that are central if the church is to be ‘fit for purpose’? They are located in the three ‘trustworthy’ sayings in the letter:
Firstly: 1 Timothy 1: 15, ‘that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ Paul in 1: 12 – 17 is clearly giving a personal testimony but his aim is clear. The false teaching which focuses on the law and myths and genealogies will distract from and destroy the purpose of the local church which is to spread the gospel in obedience to (1 Timothy 2: 3 + 4), ‘God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.’ The first step on our journey is to acknowledge our own sinfulness as Paul leads us in doing. That realization means that nothing but a gospel of deep and sovereign grace can possibly meet our need.
Secondly: 1 Timothy 3: 1, ‘If anyone aspires to the office of overseer he desires a noble task.’ The church needs a gospel heartbeat and also godly leadership. The noble task involves leading by example and verbally instructing the members of the local church. Those called as overseers/elders/ministers of local churches are to instruct in biblical truth and to refute what is untrue. Safeguarding who leads the church is vital to the church’s health and future.
Thirdly: 1 Timothy 4: 8, ‘Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.’ The church faces the challenge of ungodliness due to false teaching which can lead to immorality on the one hand or commanded abstinence from things that ‘God created to be received with thanksgiving.’ (See 1 Timothy 4: 1 – 5). In contrast Timothy and his godly followers are to (1Timothy 4: 7), ‘train... for godliness.’ This means that every part of church life is to commend the gospel. So it is not just the teaching (1 Timothy 4: 11 – 18) but day to day relationships (1 Timothy 5: 1 + 2), the church’s care for those in need (1 Timothy 5: 3 – 16) and so much else that comes under scrutiny.
It is not that short an article but if you would like to borrow it please let me know.
Yours in the Lord
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