Sermons

Summary: Timothy is instructed in how he is to conduct his life as a minister of Christ. Thus, each servant of the Master is taught how he should conduct his life and ministry.

“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” [1]

“Command and teach these things.” This imperative is reminiscent of the opening words of verse six, “If you put these things before the brothers.” “These things,” as we discovered in a previous message, [2] included all the matters presented to this point in the missive. Thus, the Apostle has provided the young minister with encouragement to minister in a particular fashion, and now he provides the impetus through an imperative.

In particular, “these things” focus on the admonitions in verses seven through ten. First, the elder is enjoined to avoid falling into the trap of embracing “irreverent, silly myths.” “Irreverent, silly myths” is translated in other instances as “ridiculous and seedy religious fads,” [3] “foolish stories that disagree with God’s truth” [4] and as “silly stories that get dressed up as religion.” [5] Succinctly, the elder is not to follow every fad that comes along. People sometimes complain that the pastor is not current—he’s not supposed to be tuned in to every new fad! He is not to seize upon every movement that attempts to present itself as novel. Let me say quite clearly, if it is true, it is Scriptural; if it is novel, it is not Scriptural.

Again, the elder is to strive to be godly both in his life and in what is taught. Do not expect that those opposed to the Word of God will be thrilled by the elder who stands like a rock against the torrents of modern thought. He will be castigated as unwilling to change, as obstinate, as uncooperative, as petty; and when these opprobria, tossed about fail to sway him, know that the next fusillade will endeavour to sully his character. He steals houses, he caused silly women to take their own lives, he attempted to sue the church, all he is concerned about is money—all alike are slanders spread about in an effort to destroy him through assailing his character. The only defence against such craven efforts is a godly life that cannot be gainsaid.

Then, we are taught that the elder’s message is to present Christ as Saviour. His purpose is not to teach a Gospel designed only to allow us to avoid trials or pressures; he is to present Christ as the Only Saviour, necessary precisely because man is sinful and utterly incapable of making himself acceptable before the True and Living God. The Gospel is not about maximising human potential and living “your best life now”; the Gospel is about rescuing sinners.

I understand that we live in a day in which religious celebrities present a gospel that promises health, great relationships, great kids and especially great finances. However, the situation is more perverted that that—this new gospel seeks to popularise the idea that faith is merely a therapeutic means meant to make us feel better about ourselves. Tragically, this distorted message has infiltrated many, if not most, of the churches of our Lord! Let me say quite clearly—the Faith is not a means of pain avoidance! Neither should any individual imagine that personal faith is a means to avoid trials and challenges. The chief symbol of the Faith is an instrument of suffering and death—the cross! When the Apostle asks whether “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword” is capable of separating us from the love of Christ [see ROMANS 8:34, 35], it is evident that he is assuming that we who believe in Christ the Lord will experience some, or even all of these!

After emphasising the necessity of teaching “these things,” the aged Apostle provides his expectations for the younger man of God. Timothy faced a hostile environment; and every servant of Christ will conduct his service in an environment of opposition and hostility. The milieu in which he ministers will include unbelievers who reject the idea that they are sinful and in need of a Saviour. Counted among congregants will be individuals who seek a comfortable environment in which to preen their own egos. These hapless souls will resist any effort that makes them uncomfortable. Therefore, the man of God will find it necessary to remain focused on essentials; Paul now emphasises these essentials.

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