Wednesday 7 April 2021

       1 Timothy Chapter 1

The Letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus, known as the Pastoral Letters, give the finest guidance and sound doctrine, sketching out what the priorities of the Christian Church need to be, and showing how we should respond. We are living in times similar to that in which the Church in Paul’s time faced.

I hope you will be able and willing to stay and follow with me as we go through these three wonderful pieces of Christian teaching, which help us to enjoy our faith, and all it believes and stands for. I will try and keep them in the mid-week time.

The passage to begin with is in the 1st Letter to Timothy. Firstly, let us study what Paul is saying in this passage, and then consider how it relates to us in our time.

The three Pastoral Letters were written to help the Church live our lives worthy of God and in the conduct of worship. We get an image of the early Church.  God is speaking to us through Paul, who lays out sound doctrine and calls for the spread of.

Paul had been arrested and was in a Roman prison when he wrote these Letters, which are not just a friendly chat, rather they are documents of guidance, advice and encouragement to two young pastors, and are of vital relevance for the Church now.

He begins this Letter setting out he is an Apostle specially chosen by God and commissioned by Jesus in a unique way when he was actually on his way to persecute Christians.

Timothy would know Paul was an Apostle, but Paul was preparing for his Letters to be sent to many people and he rejoiced in the grace of God for having this appointment.  He saw himself as an ambassador for his King, and faithfully carried out that role.

He calls Timothy a genuine child which meant Timothy was dear to him. Paul knew his mother and grandmother who had guided Timothy in the Scriptures, and marked him out as an assistant who would travel widely with Paul on his missions, and ultimately the one most able to take over Paul’s ministry when his work was done.

Paul knew Timothy was of mild disposition and would have to face strong opposition from people outside the Church, but also from within the Church.  He knew Timothy was of mixed race as his mother was a Jew and father a Greek, and as such he would face resistance from the Jewish members, so he circumcised Timothy to make him acceptable.

Paul as in all his Letters he prays for grace and peace for those entrusted with the gospel, but here he adds mercy, for he knew Timothy faced a difficult task.

The emphasis in this Letter is to guard and defend the gospel, and how to contain men who had infiltrated the Church and were giving false teaching.  The teaching of the Apostles was being ignored. for the false teachers had no understanding of the gospel, and were indulging in vain discussions.

At this time Timothy was representing Paul in the Church at Ephesus, and had to stay there to disgrace false teachers, who were not qualified and were likely to lead people astray, by telling them they could act as they wished and God would forgive. They also wanted to teach Old Testament laws and heresy, so putting the Church at risk.

The Mosaic law was meant for the lawless, and Paul listed actions, which were in fact a summary of the Ten Commandments. Immorality, ungodliness, harming parents, unnatural sex, liars, and all which is contrary to sound doctrine. 

There was also too much time being wasted on genealogies looking back through the ages instead of turning to the gospel. A tendency developed to adopt the latest fashion or novelty idea, which led to arguments in the Church. Arrogance replaced humility, causing disputes as to what should be accepted.

True Christianity offers love which rejects power and policies, giving a pure heart, which motivates humility. leading to acceptance of God, and a fondness for truth, Christianity calls for a good conscience to enable faith, and a desire to live practising that faith.

Paul referred to myths which were fanciful and untrue beliefs, but the whole aim of teaching was that from the Apostles who were taught by Jesus.

Paul acknowledged the gift of Jesus to him, despite he had been such a persecutor of Christians, and such an unbeliever.  He says this was due to ignorance which God was ready to forgive, and show his forgiveness was an example of his mercy and grace.

Any person familiar with Church life will read this Letter of Paul and think they could aptly rename it as Paul’s Letter to the Church in the Western nations.  As I think of the Church in the United Kingdom I recognise the comments Paul makes are still relevant.

Paul was devoted to sound doctrine, as all Ministers of the Church should be, we vow to do so at our ordination made in the house of God.  How quickly and totally do many abandon their vow and appear in our Churches preaching some nonsense in complete rejection of Scripture. Such people often rise to high Office within the Church where they spread their poison, calling for the teaching of the Bible to be laid aside as it may offend modern thought. Then with straight face wonder why the Churches are emptying; can anyone seriously expect God to bless heresy?

The Church has many false teachers still who wander widely away from the teaching of the Apostles, which is in fact the New Testament. We have a woman who claims to be evangelical, with a serving Bishop, hosting national meetings preaching totally against the Bible, and campaigning for people to join them. If they had any honor or conscience, they would take the proper course and resign from the Church, and would be entitled to do what they wished, but that would need courage and cause them to lose some interest.

We still have fanciful ideas based on novelty.  It was once seriously proposed to have Sunday morning services held in a supermarket whilst normal trading was in progress. Imagine trying to buy some groceries when the Minister came to offer the bread and wine. May be a sketch for some irreverent play, but for serious action?

I went to a Church where I was, seriously expected to take what is called a ‘cafĂ© service’.  Tables were placed around the Church with coffee served during the course of the service.

In another incident people were being invited to get married in Church, and bring your children to be baptized at the same time. How contemporary the Church can be, if shops can offer two for one so can we sort of thing.

You  may think this is some 1st April story but I assure you it is not. It is however an example how we are failing the biblical call to worship God with reverence and awe.

Being honest, if you were asked to explain what the Church stands for, would you know what to say? You could well answer what it was supposed to say.  But what for example, is the view on the most important and stable bedrock of society, marriage.? The Archbishop isn’t sure, and many of his fellow leaders are confused and think the biblical teaching is out of date.

We are told bishops have a right to sit in the house of Lords to give moral guidance, an excellent idea, but why don’t they? Why does it need a group of mothers to protest when their children are being taught explicit sex at very tender ages in our schools, even within Church schools.  Such is a parents’ responsibility.

We are not here to give opinions.  If the Bible states something is wrong, then we must say it is wrong. If people don’t agree, then this is what free speech is for, but we do Bible speak.

 Let us all pray for the Church and call for a return to its true purpose of fulfilling our Lord’s command to take the gospel and make disciples. Let us fervently pray that our Church Officers at all levels fulfil their vows and preach only what Scripture commands.

May God bless all who try faithfully to serve Him and  honor His Word which he gave us in the Bible

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