Summary: Message four in this exposition of First Timothy describes the gnostic error in the early church that was distorting the New Testament faith. Preaching against them our purposes are to purify the faith and to lead false teachers to Christ
THE BATTLES CHOSEN
B. The Faith Protected
“Command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer.” (1:3)
“Fight the good fight, holding on to faith”(18,19).
Paul uses strong words. He doesn’t tell Timothy to suggest that false teachers stop, he is to command them. He doesn’t tell him to go to Ephesus to rest his soul and seek peace of mind, but to “Wage the good warfare.” This makes me believe Paul was a Baptist. Baptist churches practice “The Four F’s”: food, fun, fellowship, and a good fight. We give a poor witness to the world as we fight about all the wrong things- usually centering in, who runs the church. But not all fighting is bad. Sometimes we need to fight for those things God holds dear and deems important. One is truth, what the NT calls “the faith.” (1:18, Jude 3)
THE FAITH DELIVERED
The NT speaks of a “Christian Faith”, a body of truth that had been delivered in the First Century, to the Church. Before Paul died he said he had “kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7). Jude 3 says, “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all entrusted to the Saints.” There is a body of truth that defines true Christianity.
When Paul told Timothy to “hold on to faith”, he was not talking about his personal faith or trust, but the “Christian Faith” as a system of revealed truth about God and His dealings with man. When Paul wrote this letter, the NT was not yet completed, but the fundamental truths had been preached up and down the land by the Lord’s Apostles like Paul, Peter, Matthew, James and John and others given apostolic authority like Junias (Rom. 16:7)
. Finally, as God led men to create the NT, the faith was written down in letters to churches. Peter already called some of Paul’s letters, “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:15).
THE FAITH DEFINED
The “faith” is not the Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian or Pentecostal faith. A friend of mine said he had the answer for all the denominations- everyone should join a great big Baptist church.
We know we are all wrong somewhere- we just don’t know where.
With this in mind, as a Conservative Protestant I am with those who believe the faith would certainly include the following:
(1) The authority of Scripture.
(2) The deity, humanity, virgin birth, perfect life, sacrificial death, physical resurrection, ascension, rule, and literal return of Christ.
(3) The Three-in-one nature of God.
(4) The need of all people for salvation.
(5) Salvation through repentance and faith based on the sacrifice of Jesus.
(6) The coming judgment of all mankind.
(7) Resurrection, heaven and hell.
(8) The Priesthood of every believer to interpret the Bible and approach God for himself through Christ.
Note: This shows the simplicity of our faith. Certain truths, like the Trinity, are hard to understand, but the facts presented are easy to know. Jesus is God. Jesus died to pay for my sins. Jesus will forgive me and change me and let me go to heaven if I will believer he rose from the dead and lives to answer my prayer for salvation.
He wants all of us to be willing to turn from a life dominated by evil desires to a live dominated by Him and His will. He wants me to trust that He loved me enough to die on the cross for me.
I agree with Billy Graham when he says most people don’t reject Christ for intellectual reasons, but for moral reasons, they don’t want Jesus interfering with their lifestyle. They want to be free to “do their own thing”. These are not deep mysteries we have to go to college to understand. They are historical facts we are called on to believe. We can say, “Everything I need to know I learned in Sunday School”
THE FAITH DISTORTED
“Some have rejected these and shipwrecked their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. (1:18-20).
1. The People Behind This Error.
The Christian Church is like a river, the further it goes, the more trash and garbage it picks up. The pure NT has been polluted by people who refuse to change their beliefs to fit the Bible and change the Bible to fit their beliefs.
1) There are those who are mistaken.
I counseled a lady who was brought up in the Church of God and thought smoking would send her to hell. She lived in constant fear because she could not quit smoking. I told her smoking would not send her to hell, it would only make her smell like she had been there. She left as guilt ridden and afraid as the day I met her. We find it very difficult to shake the false beliefs we have heard since childhood. These false beliefs come into the Church.