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Summary: Some experts believe that Sunday School is on the decline. They suggest that the SS hour has been added to the church service (2:00 hour services now common, often with 1:15 devoted to music) therefore SS is unnecessary.

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Chances are, you don’t know Edward Kimball. He lived over a hundred years ago. He was a Sunday school teacher in Boston, where a young teenager became part of his class. The young man was a country boy. He didn’t know the ways of the city or of the church. But, he came to Kimball’s Sunday school class.

When the teen first came to his class, Edward Kimball handed him a Bible. When Mr. Kimball said, "Turn to the Gospel of John," the country boy didn’t know how to find the Gospel of John. Edward Kimball recognized what was happening, and while the other boys were snickering, he opened the Bible to the Gospel of John and handed it back. When he asked the boys to read, the country boy fumbled as he read.

Edward Kimball wasn’t discouraged; he had perspective, and saw possibilities in the boy. Kimball worked with him, and after some months he went down to the store where the boy was working, went into the back room where he was stacking boxes, and led young Dwight to Jesus Christ. That was the beginning of the ministry of Dwight L. Moody, this continent’s greatest evangelist during the last century.

You didn’t know Edward Kimball, an obscure Sunday school teacher who had a vision. But his vision transformed a young man who became a significant person.

I. INTRODUCTION

1. When Dale contacted me about teaching this morning, he asked me to find a text appropriate for the day. More specifically, a text appropriate for the business meeting that follows. A lesson that would motivate, challenge and instruct us, all at the same time. I trust that God will provide all these features as we look to his word.

2. Some experts believe that SS is on the decline. They suggest that the SS hour has been added to the church service (2:00 hour services now common, often with 1:15 devoted to music) therefore SS is unnecessary.

A. George Barna (Christian researcher) says that despite the hubbub about SS decline, attendance is about the same as it was 10 years ago.

3. Many churches have abandoned their schools in order to use that space for other purposes. Some even suggest that costs in the construction of new charges can be slashed nearly 50% by eliminating SS programs.

4. It makes me wonder what God must think; does God think SS is important? If so, what are his expectations of us in the operation of our school? TWM to 2 Timothy 3. While you turn there…

II. BACKGROUND

1. Timothy is one of the best-known minor characters of the NT. The son of a heathen father and a converted Jewish mother, he first joined Paul’s entourage at Lystra as they began their second missionary journey.

2. He was probably a Christian already, converted through Paul in an earlier meeting. The Apostle evidently took a liking to him and persuaded him to accompany him. Henceforth, he was Paul’s constant companion and intimate friend, collaborating with him in several of his letters (1&2 Thess., 2 Co., Phil., Col. And Phm.)

3. It seems that Timothy was an apostolic delegate assigned to the church at Ephesus, where Paul hoped to visit him soon.

A. The church at Ephesus had its problems. It suffered from a heresy (false doctrine) that combined Gnosticism, decadent Judaism and false asceticism. Let’s take a moment to define these:

01. Gnosticism held that salvation came from special knowledge (Gk. Gnosis) given to a privileged few that frees them from the material world, which was thought to be evil.

02. Decadent Judaism (decadent=declining, decaying); this group held to the OT law, denouncing the notion that grace was sufficient for salvation.

03. False Asceticism: Those whose lifestyle of self-denial went too far…believed salvation was dependent on abstaining from marriage, certain foods, etc.

4. Paul instructs young Timothy, in light of these problems, to conduct himself appropriately in the church; to set a proper example, and faithfully discharge all of his ministerial duties.

5. Within this discourse, we find Paul’s vision for Timothy’s ministry – and a wonderful vision for the Sunday school (as well as the church).

III. A VISION FOR THE SUNDAY SCHOOL (and any other ministry) (4:1-5)

1. Preach the word carefully and patiently (4:1-2)

A. Gk. kay-roo-so = to proclaim with a formality, gravity and authority which must be listened to and obeyed.

B. God expects us to teach with authority; we must not take this lightly. This is, in fact, a school! James taught that God will judge teachers, preachers and others in authority more stringently.

01. Teaching with authority demands study, preparation and prayer. The text must challenge the teacher before it has any hope of challenging a student.

02. The teacher is first a student of the scriptures – he doesn’t have all the answers, but searches God’s word with his students to find them!

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