Summary: This is the fourth in a series of sermons based on Paul’s letter to Timothy as a guide to how the church should behave. This message explores getting overly consumed in theological debates and arguments.
1 Timothy 3:15 should be miraculously appearing on the screen, let’s read it together, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church. . .”
We are exploring the book of 1 Timothy, and those things that Paul wrote to his young apprentice Timothy regarding how the church is to behave like believers. Some body life basics on how this new group of Christians should live their lives in testimony to their faith. Or as he says, “how we ought to conduct ourselves in the house of God.”
The letters written by Paul to the young preacher Timothy are part of what is referred to as the “Pastoral Epistles”. Or pastoral letters. They are called this because they give some pretty specific instructions to pastors, like me. But they are much more than that and whether intended or not, Paul now has a much wider audience than simply pastors.
We have looked at three specific passages, but today I want us to look at a couple different segments in this letter. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Timothy, chapter 1.
- 1 Timothy 1:3 (read through verse 7).
- Now look to verse 18 (read through verse 19).
- Jump ahead to chapter 4. Chapter 4, verse 1 (read through verse 5).
- Move forward to chapter 6. 1 Timothy 6:3 (read through verse 5).
- And finally verse 20 (read through verse 21).
Five different segments of this small letter in which Paul in one way or another makes reference to a similar issue. The issue: handling doctrine. By definition, the teachings of Scripture. The fundamentals. Practices. Handling that sound, theological truth that has been passed down through the apostles, those who were with and were directly taught by Jesus, now passed to the church following Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension.
In this first letter, Paul repeatedly admonishes Timothy that these teachings, these doctrines must be safe guarded. We are just decades into the life of the church. Not 100s of years later, not millenniums later, but in just a few years time the need to protect the pure doctrine of the gospel is already a major concern for the church.
Now, set aside the Scripture for a moment, and let me ask, does anyone remember the year 1999? 1999? Anyone remember the big fear of the day? Anyone? That’s right, Y2K. A computer glitch, and millennium bug that was going to completely shut down our universe. Paranoia and fear zoomed to all time high levels. At least in my life.
For those of you who are less than about 12 or 13 years old, there were even good, fairly sound minded Christian people who began filling basements with food supplies and water bottles. People began developing bomb shelter like strategies for surviving this mini-Armageddon.
At the time, I was a claims manager for Nationwide Insurance in southern West Virginia. I remember the predictions. Water treatment plants will shut down. Power plants will be derailed. Computers will crash. You will not have running water, electricity, or communication with the rest of the world. I thought, I live in West Virginia, sounds like a normal day for us.
There were documentaries about the major world catastrophes that awaited us. Trains colliding, planes crashing, hospitals disabled. Of course, the year 2000 rolled around. The microwave still worked. The computer didn’t blow up. The traffic lights worked. The stock market didn’t crash. The new ice age didn’t start. As far as we can tell, Jesus didn’t return. Everything went on as normal. The ball even fell in Times Square without incident. It was one of the biggest non-events in the history of our country.
As far as the end of the world goes the year 2000 was a major anti-climax. A real disappointment. But boy how it played on our paranoia, and really kicked in our fascination with end of the world and second coming theories.
Kind of like today with Israel and Hezbollah, and the middle east. Every time someone tells me this is signaling the return of Christ, the end of the world. I think back to my readings in the Old Testament, and World Civ. classes. As far as I can tell, people have been killing themselves, and each other over there for as long as there as been a record of human history in that region.
Think of how many movies there are about the end of the world. Whether its aliens invading or mass suicide to catch a ride on a passing space ship. It seems that the amount of crazy cults and doomsday predictions are endless. When it comes to the end of the world, there seems to be only one thing that seems certain. Whether it’s the predictions of Nostradamus, the Celestine Prophecies, the Left Behind series or the da Vinci Code, it seems certain that religious fads will come and go until the end of time.