Summary: Two instructions relating to life and love, obedience and truth, in the church
Text: 1 Tim 3:14-16, Title: A 2000-Year-Old Song, Date/Place: WHBC, 5.13.18, AM
A. Opening illustration: New Song – Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery, In Christ Alone (middle two verses),
B. Background to passage: Paul wrapping up chapter and major block of the book and making a transition to the warning half of the book. The second person verbs here are in the singular, leading to the conclusion that Paul is speaking to Timothy personal. However, remember that this letter would be read aloud. The mere fact that Paul was coming, and his clarity about the intentions of the letter are clear. He is giving the way that we should act toward each other. Baptists have had covenants for similar reasons – how we should behave. This is also a reminder of the centrality of the gospel in all that we do in our church family.
C. Main thought: Two instructions relating to life and love, obedience and truth, in the church.
A. Obey the Gospel (v. 14-15)
1. The picture his is the family of God. The three descriptions carry the full force of the church, the assembly, explicitly mentioned in v. 15. He tells them how to behave. Like a spiritual father, he has been, and currently is giving them teaching on living together. The scripture calls for obedience; obedience to the gospel. Not a difficult thing to receive. We are constantly commanded to do things in scripture. Jesus’ final command was to “teach to observe all that I have commanded you.” Jesus was not one to mince words or go soft on the religious. However, he exhibited inestimable grace toward sinners and outcasts. Jesus alone commanded repent, come to me, believe in me, take up your cross, deny yourself, love with all your heart, rejoice upon persecution, fear God, don’t worry, humble yourself, don’t be angry, righteousness must exceed the Pharisees, love your enemies, pray for them, do good to them, love your neighbor as yourself, lay up treasures in heaven, and give generously, render to Caesar, keep your marriage vows, make disciples, and more. It would take much more time to count Paul’s
3. Illustration: “You can teach a parrot all of Jesus’ commandments. But you cannot teach a parrot to observe them. Parrots will not repent, and worship Jesus, and lay up treasures in heaven, and love their enemies, and go out like sheep in the middle of wolves to herald the kingdom of God.” -Piper,
4. The key distinction between the old commandments and the new is the motive for obedience – the glory of God, his grace, and the gospel, which are all intertwined. The obedience Jesus commands is the fruit of his redeeming work and the display of his personal glory. Jesus points out to us that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. This doesn’t release us from obedience to the commands of the NT, but it makes us reevaluate how we estimate their severity considering the value of our treasure. If Jesus is truly our pearl of great price, then sacrifice and suffering can be embraced as a light burden. Paul said, “the suffering of this life is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18. Another time he says this “light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all compare.” 2 Cor 4:17. So, come and embrace the burden of Christ, and his commands will seem easy when supplied with his resources and his satisfaction. Embrace it because in doing so you will bring glory to Christ, which is the end for which you were created.
B. Love the Gospel (v. 16)
1. As previously mentioned and implied by the title, this is a song sung by the early church. It was a gospel summary that was overwhelmingly affirmed by the first century church. Paul simply wrote down what the other churches were singing. This song was probably two three-lined verses; the first dealing with his life, and the latter related to everything after the crucifixion. It is a confession of faith, ours is the BF&M 2000. They would sing the truth of the gospel, cementing it in their minds, and causing their hearts to rejoice in the God of grace who made a way.
2. The confession of faith starts with the (1) incarnation (to the haters: notice they didn’t only sing Christmas songs at Christmas). It speaks of Jesus becoming visible. This is indicative of his preexistence, his eternality, and deity. (2) He was declared righteous, or justified, by the Holy Spirit. Christ lived a sinless life, and only by doing so, he could be a substitute. (3) He was seen by angels, could have a multitude of meanings, but since it is in the verse about Jesus life, it probably means he was overseen his whole early life by angels. The angels desire to look into the gospel itself according to 1 Pet 1:12. They were before his birth with Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, announcing his birth to shepherds, ministering to him after the temptation (during which Satan affirmed that the angels would catch Jesus if he fell), were with him in the garden, were available for service on the cross, rolled away the stone at the resurrection and waited in the tomb as well, and they spoke to the disciples as Jesus ascended. (4) After his death he was proclaimed among the nations. The apostles began on the Day of Pentecost (technically they preached to the Gentiles up unto Acts 8, the fully to the nations after Acts 10. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only foundation upon which to build and the only message we offer. Every help and aid that we offer through the church is undergirded and propelled by the gospel. (5) Christ was then believed on by whosoever would put their faith in his death as their only hope of salvation. This is the thing that binds us together across denominational lines and across the globe—we have been born again through Christ, and our lives reflect that. (6) Christ was taken up to glory attesting to the acceptance of the sacrifice that he made. He sat down at the right hand of God (where he still is) making intercession for us. He will one day arise from his exalted seat and return for his bride, vanquishing evil and creating a new heaven/earth.