Summary: When confronted with false teaching and legalism, we need to Hold Fast to the Gospel of Grace.
I Timothy #1
CHCC: April 15, 2007
In the early 1900’s this ad appeared in a London Newspaper: “Men wanted for a hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
Would YOU answer that ad? Well, thousands of men did. The man who put out the ad was the famous Arctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Adventurous men answered on the basis of his reputation. They knew they effort would be worth the cost and that they could trust him with their lives. I got to thinking, that is the same reason people answer the call of Christ today: we know our efforts will be worth the cost and that we can trust Him with our lives.
I wonder what kind of ad Jesus might put in a Newspaper … Men and women wanted to build my church. You will face relentless attacks from an invisible enemy. Those outside my church will oppose you, and even those within my church will misunderstand you. You will have to sacrifice your time, energy, money, ambitions, pleasures, and maybe even your life. Full payment will not be awarded until your life has ended. (Dennis Selfridge, sermoncentral.com modified)
For the next few weeks we’re going to look at a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a young man who answered that kind of call. This young man accepted the tough assignment of leading the church in Ephesus. The letters Paul wrote to this young minister have been named for him: I and II Timothy.
I could sum up Paul’s message in I Timothy chapter 1 this way: (this is a Skidmore Paraphrase) “Dear Timothy, It sounds like you’ve got some trouble makers there at ECC (that’s Ephesus Christian Church.) They sound like a bunch of crooked lawyers… talking a bunch of legalistic legalese. They want people to think they know-it-all --- but they actually know NOTHING about the Gospel of Grace.
Well, Timothy, I could teach them a thing or two about Grace. You know my past. I was more legalistic, arrogant, and violent than those guys at ECC could think about being. It took the grace of God to change me. And that’s what it will take to change them, too.
So command them to stop their false teaching. That’s why I left you with the church at Ephesus. I know you can do it! Speak up for the gospel of grace. Fight legalism with love. And above all, hold fast to your faith.
Introduce DVD CLIP “Master and Commander:The Far Side of the World.”
There are some books and articles out recently about the “Feminization of the American Church.” The idea is that men are not involved in church like they used to be. Well, if that is true, it’s not the Bible’s fault.
One Professor of Church History gave this analysis. I think a reason some men "hate going to church" is, ironically enough, that many churches have failed to preach the Gospel. I don’t mean the Gospel of "Jesus dying for my sins." I mean the Gospel of God’s invasion into the world to Rule over to every aspect of our lives. (Sean Michael Lewis blog Tuesday, June 13, 2006)
That’s the Gospel Paul preached. Paul saw the Christian life as a battleground. In His letters he used terms of warfare and weapons and shipwrecks and battles. Paul was kind of a “man’s man” who also used comparisons to athletic events like running a race or boxing or fighting the good fight.
Paul knew Timothy was facing a critical battle at Ephesus Christian Church. Timothy was facing the kind of problem that could split a church. The root of that problem was LEGALISM. And in the Church, legalism always causes division.
1. Legalism that Divides I Timothy 1:3-11
Specifically, Paul told Timothy to command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. I Timothy 1:3-4
ECC was a multi-cultural church – mostly a mix of Jews and Greeks. Jesus Christ had United them. But now false teachers were trying to Divide them. The Greek teachings were part of Gnosticism – which was a popular religion of the day based on mysticism and “secret knowledge.” The Jews countered with Old Testament genealogies that were assigned mythological significance by some Rabbis.
In both cases, the root of the problem was Legalism. Both groups thought they had a corner on the Truth. Both groups felt superior to anyone who wasn’t in on their stuff. Both groups looked down on the others as unenlightened riff-raff. In other words, for both groups it was “my way or the highway.”
That’s always how it is with Legalism. Legalism wears many faces, but it comes down to this attitude: