Summary: The key to church life is not our methods, means, miracles, magic, marketing, ministries, money or medium – it’s our message! And the message is Jesus Christ.
I & II Timothy are known as “Pastoral Epistles.” They are letters written
to inform, instruct and inspire. These letters came from the inkwell of the
Apostle Paul and were written to his young assistant named Timothy. We might
say these documents were written from the experience of an older pastor to a
young minister-boy. Without doubt these words were penned under divine
inspiration. Both letters give advice on how to properly construct, order and
maintain the life of the church and her mission. Every church needs to be
well-trained, highly motivated and have a deeply devoted leadership. The
words of the apostle to young Timothy and the issues he raises remain critical for
us today. Christ working in and through his church still remains the only hope for
a sin-sickened and sin-saturated world. It’s time for the church to make a fresh
commitment to stand-up, speak-up, and shape-up. But before we can get up, we
need to give up. By that I mean we need to give up our own selfish agendas.
We need to give up trying to do in the flesh what can only be done in the spirit.
We need to give up on mediocre living and low expectations. We need to give
up ourselves. Perhaps it’s time we give up on gadgets, gimmicks and gizmos
and get back to the fundamental truths of the scriptures. Often times we just
need to get back to basics. That’s why I call this series “Churchlife 101.”
The following is a series of sermon briefs taken from Paul’s writings to
Timothy. Each one was preached at First Baptist Church, Dresden during the
morning worship hour beginning the first Sunday of January, 2004. I hope you
will find them useful to your own preaching duties.
THE CHURCH’S MESSAGE
Introduction: Hear me carefully. The key to church life is not our methods, means, miracles, magic, marketing, ministries, money or medium – it’s our message! And the message is Jesus Christ.
I. Paul’s Credentials (1-2)
If someone was going to instruct you, wouldn’t you like to know his or her credentials? Paul did more than just stay at a Holiday Inn last night! He was:
A. An Apostle By Commission (1) As an “apostle” he was called-out, qualified for, and endowed with a special measure of the power of God. He was chosen, called, and commissioned.
B. An Evangelist by Trade (2) Paul had lead Timothy to faith in Christ. He didn’t just write or talk about evangelism, he did it!
C. A Writer by Inspiration (2) He wrote about grace (getting what we don’t deserve), mercy (not getting what we do deserve), and peace, which is the product of the first two. His words to Timothy are not the result of a fireside chat but an authoritative commission.
II. Paul’s Concern (3-11)
When Paul wrote these letters he had some grave concerns. He was concerned about false doctrines or to put it another way “a wrong message.” Please note:
A. The Realty of False Doctrine (3-4, 6-7) The word “false” here means different in kind and meaning. The message had been distorted and deviated from. Some had taken a detour that lead to a dead end (See Gal. 1:6-7). In our day false doctrines abound. They majored on myths and genealogies as if that was all-important. Don’t get sidetracked by the trivial.
B. The Result of False Doctrine (4) It leads to controversies, quarrels, questions, and quagmires. That’s what happens when you replace heavenly revelation with human speculation. It’s not profitable, redemptive and doesn’t develop believers.
C. The Remedy for False Doctrine (5-11) Establish love. Extinguish the false. Embrace the divine. Explain the law. The law was not given to save but to point out how much we need to be saved. The problem is not the law, it’s me. The law reveals my sin and serves as a roadmap to redemption. That map lead to the Master and that is our message.
III. Paul’s Confession (12-17)
We’ve seen his credentials and heard his concern. Now listen to his confession. Our message has the power to transform a human life. Paul is “Exhibit A.”
A. Look at His Transformation (12-14) Mercy found him. Grace flooded him. Faith and love flowed through him.
B. Listen to His Illustration (15-16) Note Paul said, “I am” the worst of sinners. Not “I was” but “I am.” If God can save the worst he can save the rest! Also note Paul said he was an “example.” The word means “sketch,” “pattern,” “model” or “illustration.” Paul’s conversion was not the exception but the rule. He was an example of the work of sovereign grace.
C. Linger with Him in Adoration (17) Here all reasoning stops. “Eternal” (not limited by time), “Immortal” (no decay), “Invisible” (real to the heart), “God alone” (no one with whom to compare him). What a doxology!