Summary: The beginning sermon in a Bible study of 1 Timothy. This sermon focus is on the importance of what we believe.
“Living For Christ In A Confused and Confusing World”
A Study of Paul’s Letters to Timothy
“It Does Matter What You Believe!”
The letters written by the Apostle Paul to the young preacher Timothy are part of what is referred to as the “Pastoral Epistles”
(which includes 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus). They are called this because they give some pretty specific instructions to pastors but they are much more than that and it is obvious that Paul had a much wider audience in mind.
Overall the first letter to Timothy addresses six main topics,
1.The Church’s doctrine (1:3-20)
2.The Church’s worship (2:1-15)
3.The Church’s church leadership (3:1-16) (pastors & deacons)
4.The Church’s moral behavior (4:1-10)
5.The Church’s social responsibilities (5:3-6:2)
6.The Church’s attitude towards Possessions (6:3-21)
[John Stott. Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus. (Downer’s Grove, Ill:InterVarsity Press, 1996) pp. 38-39]
The letter begins in verse one with the standard greeting, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, (2) To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The recipient of the letter is Timothy, his name means “one who honors God.” We do know quite a bit about this young man. He was taught the Scripture from early childhood by his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois (2 Tim. 3:15). He was born of a Jewish mother and a pagan Greek father (Acts 16:1). He was saved during Paul’s ministry in Lystra during his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-23). Timothy was probably a teenage boy at the time. He became Paul’s disciple, friend, co-worker and dear son spiritually. The words “a true son in the faith” (v2) denote his true or legitimate spiritual birth. By the time this letter is written Timothy has been Paul’s constant companion for fifteen years. He has frequently served as Paul’s trouble-shooter and as such was sent to Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17), Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2), Philippi (Phil 2:19) and now Ephesus. He is probably in early to middle thirties by this point in his life.
But perhaps the reason that this letter resonates with us is we can identify with this young man named Timothy. He is not some kind of super-saint but a very really young man with identifiable problems and yet used greatly by the Lord. First, of all Timothy was still comparatively young. All though he was in his thirty’s by the time of this letter he still considered himself inexperienced and not mature enough for the heavy responsibilities which Paul was laying on him. Secondly, Timothy by disposition was not an outgoing man but by temperament shy and needing affirmation. (2 Tim 1:7). Thirdly, Timothy did not seem to enjoy great physical health. He suffered from some kind of reoccurring problem with his stomach. (5:23).
It Does Matter What You Believe.- A Concern for Doctrine (vv. 3-11)
The concern of the first chapter of the first letter to Timothy is the importance of maintaining true or “sound” doctrine and the refuting of false doctrine. Paul’s declaration that there are right beliefs and wrong beliefs strikes a nerve as we begin the twenty-first century. We are daily bombarded with the politically correct view of “pluralism” – which is the belief that all belief systems are equally right and frowns on the attempt to convert anyone. The most prized virtue of our age is tolerance. We live in an age that is tolerant of any belief except the conservative Christian belief system. In our “post-modern” age relativism has convinced a large number of people that there is no such thing as universal or eternal truth.
George Barna the church statistician states that there is “a great deal of ambivalence among Americans with regard to their beliefs. For instance, while 62 percent of the respondents said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, 65 percent said the term “born again” does not apply to them; fewer than 50 percent strongly agreed that the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all it teaches.” [The Barna Report: What Americans Believe, 1991, quoted in 9-16-91, Christianity Today
www.bible.org/illus - d/doctrine]
But we need to understand that it is impossible to be a true follower of Jesus Christ and embrace this all encompassing pluralism that says that all belief systems are equal. We can not be true Christians and reject the idea of absolute truth. Jesus said that he was the truth (john 14:6), that he had come to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37), that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 16:3) and that the truth will set you free (John 8:32).