ďPastor to Pastor Parting WordsĒ† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††October 6, 2013
1 Timothy 6:11-21
SI:† Paul wrote this letter to Timothy.
†† Timothy was a pastor, apparently the new pastor, of the church in Ephesus.
So itís a pastor to pastor letter on how the church should be organized.
This morning we come to Paulís final words to Timothy and our a last
†† Lordís Day in this letter.
INTRO:† Allison was a very attentive new mother.†
Whenever she would leave her precious firstborn child with other people,
†† she would give extensive written instructions about Adrienneís care.
†† It would be taped to the refrigerator in a very conspicuous place.
A detailed schedule.† When to feed.† When to bathe.† When to put to bed.
†† Details about how each of those things were to be done.
There would be all sorts of phone numbersówhere we could be reached.
†† The pediatrician.† Poison control.† The National Center for Missing Children.
And then, when the actual time came, and the babysitter had arrived,
†† and it was time for us to walk out the dooró
†† there would be a last minute avalanche of additional instructions.
Oh, I forgot this, but thereís a little ice cream in the freezer.
†† You can give her some after she eats her supper, I think sheís teething . . .
And one more thing, she likes to be rocked when you read her bedtime story . . .
And one more thing, when you do put her to bed, leave the closet light on . . .
Oh, and just in case, let me write down her blood type.
†† I would be pulling Allison and saying come on, sheíll be fine,
†† weíre going to miss the movie!
Thatís kind of how it is towards the end of most of Paulís letters.†
†† Heís dealt with the big issues, whether doctrinal or practical.
†† But then, when he starts to end the letter, lots of other things come to mind
†† and he saysóOh, yeah, and this, and this, and donít forget this.
He does that in this letter to Timothy.† Heís clearly wrapping things up.†
†† O man of God, he saysóa very formal closing statement.
†† He seems to bring it to a concluding flourish with grand ascription of praiseó
†† To him be honor and eternal dominion.† Amen.
Amen.† That means heís done.† Right?† But then Paul says.
†† One more thing.† And just one more thing.†
Once again, he uses that formal word of address:† O Timothy, he says.
†† Finally, he wraps it all up with a short benediction.† Grace be with you.†
Sometimes itís good take each of these final comments by Paul and focus
†† on them separately and maybe preach a sermon on each.†
Iíve been reading some 1 Timothy sermons by Dr. Ligon Duncan, former pastor
†† of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Missónow president of RTS.
†† He preached five sermons on these verses.† Thatís a good model.
But sometimes itís good to look at Paulís closing instructions in a big chunk
†† and see if you can find a thread or theme that ties them all together.
†† Thatís what I want us to do.† Whatís linking these together in Paulís mind?†
Whatís one big final faith lesson that we can draw from his closing words.
You could have summed up all of Allisonís last minute instructions to the
†† babysitter in one sentence:† Take care of my baby.
†† Take care of my baby or I will kill you.
So what is it that ties all of Paulís final comments together?
Well, it has to be the thing that prompted him to write this letter in the first place.
In his very first words, back in chapter 1, he told Timothy that there is one thing
†† of supreme importance for the churchóthe good news about Jesus Christ.
†† The Good News.† The Gospel.
So anything in the life and teaching of the church that detracts from,
†† erodes, or contradicts the Gospel must be opposed.
Because if the Gospel loses its preeminence, then the ministry of the church is over.
†† The church may continue institutionally, but there will be no heart and power.
†† And if there is no heart and power, then people will not be changed.
The reason God has saved us is so that we will be changed.
Forgiveness is not just release from guilt and freedom from punishmentó
†† it is also liberation to live righteously.†
In fact, thatís the ultimate reason weíve been forgiven,
†† so we will have freedom to live as God has made us to live.
So the church must be organized and led in such a way that the Gospel is
†† adorned and magnified, so that people are changed by Godís grace.†
Paul addresses all sorts of details about church life.† Weíve studied those.
†† Elders and deacons, the role of women, relation to civil authorities,
†† attitudes toward money, widows and such.
Now here at the very end, with this avalanche of final instructions Paul says:
And Timothy, O Timothy, donít forget, this is also true of you as an individual.
†† You too must live in such a way that the Good News about Jesus is adorned and
†† magnified.† Itís not just a matter of church life.† Must be true of you personally.
Thatís Paulís closing word.† Live in such a way that the Gospel is magnified.
†† So, what does that look like?† Three things.† Iíll give them to you as we go.
MP#1† A life that magnifies the Gospel is characterized by strenuous spiritual
†† effort.† We might say itís a life of action.† Itís a working life, a doing life.
If there ever was a man who knew Godís grace, it was the Apostle Paul.
He knew that his salvation and his standing with God and his eternal destiny
†† rested 100% on the perfect life and obedience of Jesus Christ.
Paul zealously guarded grace against any encroachment of works righteousness.†
He said:† It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of
†† yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no man can boast.
He said that we are not under law but under grace, and by the works of the law
†† no man has been justified.
The only time Paul cursed in any of his letters was when he addressed
†† those in the Galatian church who were teaching that salvation is faith
†† in Jesus plus the works of the law.†
For Paul it was Godís grace alone from the first to the last that chose him,
†† saved him, and kept him.† God set me apart from birth and called me by his grace.†
There have always been Christians who say that because of Godís grace,
†† you magnify the Gospel in your life by purposefully, intentionally not
†† doing strenuous things.† By not striving to work and to do.
I once read a critique of a college campus ministry.
This particular ministry wanted to be set apart from campus ministries that were
†† supposedly legalistic because they taught certain behavior and practices.†
†† This campus ministry emphasized Godís graceówhich is well and good.
But what the author of this article commented on was that in his interactions with
†† a number of college students in ministry, he heard a great deal of foul language,
†† and saw some other behaviors that bothered him.†
He asked them about it.† And their response was they were under grace, not law.
But look at how Paul, this champion of Godís grace talks to Timothy.
He doesnít say:† O man of God, just rest in Godís grace
†† and you will automatically have a life that magnifies the Gospel.†
He pours out an avalanche of commands for Timothy to follow.
Just listen to the commands, strong imperative verbs.
O man of God,
†† flee, pursue, fight, take hold, keep, charge, do good,
†† be rich in good works, be generous, be ready to share,
†† store up treasure for future, take hold, guard, avoid.
Every single one of those commands are calls to specific actions.
We could spend a lot of time just working out the implications of each one.
†† Just consider the very first thing Paul says:
†† But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.
Fleeing means running hard and fast in the opposite direction of your temptation.
†† One time when the kids were little I caught a cicada, brought inside put on table.
†† They were all looking at it, when it suddenly took off, with that awful noise.
Girls screamed and ran to room.† We were laughing, but a few minutes later, asked
†† Whereís Will.† He was gone.† Three years old.†
Found him in neighborís yard two houses down.
†† But when the bug took off and the girls screamed, he fled.
Fleeing means asking yourself:† What are the particular sins that Iím susceptible to?†
†† What are the sins that have scarred my conscience and done damage to my soul?
†† What are the occasions that set me up for those temptations?
And then the really tough questions:† How do I flee, and am I willing to flee?
Recently read some comments by a man who said that Christian brother asked
†† for help because he was continually looking at pornography on his smart phone.
Man said he told friend:† Well, why donít you start by getting rid of smart phone?
†† Oh, no.† I canít do that.† I have to have it for this and that.† Thatís not the issue.
Jesus said, If your right hand offends, cut it off, if your eye offends, pluck out
†† We can always come up with lots of good reasons not to flee because fleeing is
†† a strenuous spiritual discipline.†
Same could be said for Paulís next command.† O man of God, pursue . . .
†† Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
Pursuing means following hard after something to try to catch it.
†† How are you pursuing gentleness if tend to be harsh and inconsiderate in speech?
†† What strategies are you employing to guard your tongue?† Thatís just how I am?
Gospel is magnified when a person who was once harsh becomes gentle.†
†† We could go on and on.† Fight, take hold, keep, guard, avoid.†
This is the life that magnifies the Gospel, O man of God.
MP#2† A life that magnifies the Gospel is concerned for the spiritual welfare of fellow believers.
Paul says:† Timothy, make sure you attend to the rich people in your church.
If they are haughty, call them on it.† Charge them not to be haughty.
†† If they are putting their hopes† in their money, call them on it.
†† Tell them they arenít trusting God enough.
Tell them they need to loosen the grip money has on lives by being more generous.
†† Tell them that if they do that, going to be storing up treasure for the future,
†† and it will help them really grasp the Christian life.
Wow.† Would you ever dare to tell someone in Christ Covenant,
†† a fellow church memberóI think youíre haughty?† Hereís how I see it in you.
I think youíre putting your hopes in something wrongóin your money,
†† or in your success, or in the admiration of the wrong people.
I think you need to make some changes in your life that are going to require
†† you to give up some of your money or something else you are holding on to
†† very tightly thatís not doing you or other people any good.
Saying those sorts of things very hard, very hard to say correctly.
But if you did, what response might you be afraid of getting?†
†† How dare you judge me.† Youíre being judgmental.
†† Then they would quote Mt. 7:1† Judge not, that you be not judged.
Probably the most misunderstood and misused verse in the Bible.
Is that what Jesus is really saying.† That you shouldnít judge?
If he is, then Paul is completely wrong,
†† because thatís clearly what he is telling Timothy to do.†
Make judgments about what certain believers are doing and challenge them on it.
The very first rule of Bible interpretation is to read the context.
†† You canít understand a sentence in isolation.†
Read the context of Matt 7:1 and itís clear that Christ is not forbidding Christians
†† from making judgmentsóHe is teaching us how to judge.
†† Heís impressing on his disciples the seriousness of judging.
Christ says in the very next breath:
†† For in the way you judge, you will be judged,
†† and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
As usual, the Lord is talking about our hearts.
If you judge someone with evil purpose or a dark intent, jealousy, hatredó
†† then one day, when God judges you, that motive will be exposed.
But if you judge nobly, honestly, and with the good of person in mindó
†† then on the day of judgment, that motive will be exposed as well.
If you judge with exaggeration and harshness, you will give an account.
†† But if you judge with fairness and compassion, you will be rewarded.
Just take a good concordance some time and look up the word judge, judgment.
†† You will find that over and over instructed to judge, particularly in the church.
The reason God has saved us is so that we will be changed.
†† The good news of Jesus Christ is not just forgiveness and escape from helló
†† the good news is also liberation to live righteously.†
In fact, thatís the ultimate reason weíve been forgiven,
†† so we will have freedom to live as God has made us to live.
That starts by turning the focus on yourselfóas we saw in the first point.
†† Strenuous spiritual effort fleeing, pursuing, fighting, taking hold.
But itís not just a matter of looking after your own spiritual growth.
†† God made you for community.
†† Heís saved you to be a part of the family of God.
That means you must have a deep, genuine, heart-felt, careful concern
†† for the sanctification of our brothers and sisters in the church.
You must want to see them successful and happily growing as Christians.
†† Fighting the good fight of the faith along side with you.
And that means, at times, speaking very careful, patient, gentle words
†† that sting and are uncomfortable to say and hear.
Proverbs says:† Faithful are the wounds of a friend.† Wounds.† Pain.† Stings.
†† Let a righteous man strike meóit is a kindness;
†† let him rebuke meóit is oil on my head.† My head will not refuse it.
He hit me, but was kind.† He rebuked me.† It was oil.†
†† If your brother or sister is willing to say things, as averse as we are to conflict,
†† then itís very unlikely his or her motive is jealousy or hatred of you.†
The Gospel is magnified when Godís people live together in community.
†† When that involves concern for one anotherís sanctification.
O man of God, remember that.
MP#3† A life that magnifies the Gospel is motivated by the great spiritual realities.
Thereís a real danger with everything weíve looked at so far.
Thatís because weíre all Pharisees at heart.†
†† Works-righteousness is the default setting of our souls.
Everything weíve said so far, about pursuing and fleeing and fighting and guarding
†† ourselves, and about charging and challenging one another, as good and biblical
†† as it is, we can twist in a heartbeat.
Strenuous spiritual discipline can very easily become pride.
We become satisfied with ourselves.†
†† Iím going good.† Iím checking things off the list.
†† Iím fighting the good fight.† Iím keeping the rules.
Especially easy if things going well in your life.† You might not say it out loud,
†† but you feel that your life is going well because you are doing right.
†† You compare yourself to others and it makes you feel good.
The flip side of self-righteous pride is self-righteous despondency.
†† Self-hatred.† Spiritual depression.
What a bad and terrible failure I am.† I can never live up to Godís law.
†† I canít believe I did that again.
†† Itís self-righteousness because you think that you earn Godís favor if try hard.
Itís especially easy if things arenít going well for you in some important part of life.
†† Your inherent self-righteousness makes you feel itís because you arenít living up.
You also compare yourself to other people, but it makes you feel horrible.
†† And criticism crushes you.
And concern for the spiritual welfare of fellow believer can very quickly
†† become scolding.† It can become oppressive.
What keeps you from the spiritual pathologies of self-righteousnessó
†† either pride or self-hatred?† What keeps you from being a discouraging scold?
†† Your motives.† The things that drive you.†
And right smack dab in the middle of Paulís parting words to young pastor
†† Timothy is a magnificent statement of Gospel-driven motive.
†† Itís grand.† Itís sober.† It touches on the great spiritual realities.
Letís read it again, starting in verse 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, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper timeóhe who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 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.
O Timothy, remember that whatever you are doing,
†† and wherever you are doing it, you are acting under the gaze of God.
†† There is no place so remote that can escape his penetrating gaze.
That has to be a constant thought and motive.† I am living before the face of God.
O Timothy, look at Christ Jesus.†
†† Look at how faithful he was before Pontius Pilate, made good confession.
Out of everything Jesus did for us, why did Paul pick that?† Why not cross?
†† Because for Timothy, in his position as pastor, saying things to people, speaking,
†† was his greatest challenge.† The place he would stand or fall.†
Paulís point is profound.† Everything Christ did, he did for you.†
†† In his life is your great exampleóway talk to people, money, prayer, purity.
†† He lived perfectly for you.† His example more than an exampleó
†† it can become for you a conduit of spiritual strength.
O Timothy, remember the Second Coming.
†† Brings to mind all the sober realities of the day of judgment and rewards and
†† Christís eternal kingdom.†
Then Paul gets carried away with himself and he tries to do what words canít do.
†† He lifts us and expands our vision, and gives us just a glimpse of God and heaven
†† and eternity, and give a hint and a rumor of greater and more wonderful things.
O Timothy, use your sanctified imagination.†
†† Use it as a prism to see yourself and other people.
What does this look like?† I want to close with some words from CS Lewis.
†† Here is a great man working this out in his dealings with people.
†† For him, had his close friends, but really could be terribly dismissive.
Remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.†
When you deal with people, remember the great spiritual realities.† Christís return,
†† the judgment.† Heaven and hell.† This fellow believer who you are concerned for.
†† Remember that one day he or she will be glorious and perfected.
†† or, if doesnít know Christ, will be horribly disfigured in hell.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.† It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.† There are no Ďordinaryí people.† You have never talked to a mere mortal.† But it is immortals with whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploitóimmortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
No ordinary people.† Every person you talk to is immortal.† Has an eternal destiny.
†† People you joke with people you snub.†
This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.† We must play.† But our merriment must be of that kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriouslyóno flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.† And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinneróno mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
Serious merriment.† No superiority.† Real, costly love.
Where does this come from.† Great spiritual realities.