We start a new series today with Paul’s letter to Timothy for the church in Ephesus and us at MBM. The series is titled “Life in God's family.” Unless we guard the truth inside the church, we have nothing to offer those outside the church. But who has the right to speak into our life and the church?
From the moment we are born we are told “No one has the right to tell me how to live”
We can't see the problem, we act like we are all-knowing and inherently good, we have learnt to be suspicious about everyone except ourselves. In reality, we are born in one family, part of one culture at one time, we are just one blip on the stage of history. We have silenced God, the one who speaks timeless truths in time-bound cultures. It has placed a tremendous burden on a generation that is lost and a church that has lost its way.
But God in his kindness doesn’t leave it up to us, what a relief to know that the one who has the right to tell us how to live is for us.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. ~1Timothy 1:1-2 (NIV)
This letter was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy. It is about how Timothy is to lead the church at Ephesus, Paul ends this letter assuming the church is reading it.
The chain of command begins with God who is described as Father and Saviour, the highest calling for a Christian, that the only Sovereign God, King of Kings, Lord of Lords who alone is eternal and invisible who dwells in unapproachable light. That God is your Heavenly Dad because Jesus Christ is our hope.
Your future is guaranteed in him.
This letter begins by underlining the authority of Paul, together both God the Father and his Son appointed Paul as an apostle.
Unlike false teachers Paul is not self-appointed, he is made an apostle and ambassador of Christ by God's command. This means this is God's letter to them and God’s word to us.
This book is written to Timothy, Paul’s spiritual son. Timothy came to faith through the ministry of Paul. He served as a fellow missionary with Paul and he was circumcised for the gospel. See the chain of command of this letter – The Father, the Son, Paul, Timothy, the local church and to us. To reject Paul's letters is to reject God himself.
Why is this so important for us? Paul is going to say some tough stuff that we don’t want to hear, start praying that we will let God speak to us. The first thing Paul tells Timothy is to mute the false teachers
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer ~1Timothy 1:3 (NIV)
It’s that blunt.
The best thing about social media is the worst thing about social media, it allows anyone to say anything, even it they haven’t earnt the right to speak, not so in the church of God. We guard the preaching. For me to get to this point to preach I needed to be assessed for 4 years, my teaching, my character and my family was reviewed and I was repeatedly interviewed. Even now if I preach heresy, you can dob me into the bishop.
So what was it they were teaching?
…command certain people not to teach false doctrines any Longer. Literally … not to teach other teachings… ‘other than what’? Other then what was handed down from Paul and the Lord Jesus. More specifically:
…(not) devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. ~1 Timothy 1:4 (NIV)
Myths and Genealogies - Teaching made up stories taught as though they were true. Probably Jewish myth because they wanted to be teachers of the Law. Myths often fill in the gaps in the bible. Telling you the things in the bible you were curious to know, stuff your imaginations run wild with.
Haven't you ever wondered what Jesus did as a teenager?
Think how interesting Youth Group could be reading stories about how Jesus spoke to his sisters, how he handled Rabbis with a bad temper, how Jesus coped with his dad who made him work after school when his friends could play.
You don’t have to guess? We have one of the false Gospels of Thomas that was written 140 years after Jesus birth, where Jesus was 5 years old and he is playing with other Jewish boys, making 12 clay sparrows on the sabbath, when his father, Joseph, tells him off for breaking the Sabbath. He claps his hands and all 12 fly away. Great party trick! Not true and not helpful.
What is the Koran? A rewriting of both Old Testament and New Testament story.
What is the book of Mormon but one long myth. Mormons love genealogies, the Mormons have developed the most detailed genealogy record database. They believe that you can save your dead ancestor by naming them and baptising them.
All of it is based on an obscure half verse in 1 Corinthians 15:29.
What is as bad as treating myths as if they were true? Its treating truth as if it were a myth.
I remember one guy coming to church and he was shocked that I was preaching through Exodus, Moses, 10 plagues, Cross of the red sea, like they actually happened. He was taught at his Catholic University that the whole Old Testament was myth.
Paul lets us know the fruit of such lies
Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith ~1 Timothy 1:4 (NIV)
They promote useless and harmful arguments that never advance God purposes. God's word is to be stewarded not speculated, such teaching stir the imagination, they do not spur on godliness. This command is to silence them. It is not driven by insecure leaders who have control issues. This isn’t a power game. It’s about love for God and his people.
The goal of this command is love, … ~1 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
It’s not loving to mute yourself when lies are being taught. It’s not loving to let lies masquerade as truth. You may not like it when people say in bible studies ‘Where do you get that from the passage?’ But it’s a loving question. Love is as close to Truth as the Father is to the Son.
What drives this command is everything that the false teachers were not.
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. ~1 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
A pure heart is driven by the applause of God. A good conscience that is washed by the blood of Christ and taught by the word of Christ. Sincere faith that genuinely knows and trust Gods word.
In verse 19 Paul calls out two men who shipwrecked their faith by rejecting a sincere faith and good conscience. They slowly drifted, they stopped caring about what is right or wrong, they stopped listening to their conscience. Consciences need to be educated, are you responsive when you’re convicted or do you simply suppress it.
There was a speaker at the Men's conference years ago and he was considered one of the great ones. He preached to 3000 of us while planning to leave his wife for another man, within a few months. He was asked, “how could he prepare people for marriage knowing that in a few weeks he would leave his wife?” He said “that was my professional life” Conscience hardened, faith insincere, heart corrupt. His wife, a very godly woman, said, “God used my husband to convict us of our sin, lets pray that God would convict him of his sin.” She was a godly woman with a sincere faith and good conscience.
How many times have we seen people shift their doctrine only to find they were engaged in some private unrepentant sin. Notice how Paul profiles the false teachers.
They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. ~1 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
Unlike Paul and Timothy, they are self-appointed. Sounds like the trolls on social media, they were confident but clueless.
I am sometimes surprised by what people call a good sermon, so often impressed by the communication and not the content. Train yourself to ask yourself where exactly the message is coming from. Beware of those who spend all their time around the text but not in the text. When you are at Growth Groups, don’t be afraid to say the obvious.Don’t get bored with saying the obvious.
Since these false teachers misused the law, Paul puts them right. The law can refer to the Old Testament as well as the commandments in it.
Paul says 3 things about the law.
The law is not a myth and speculation. It's about fact, not fiction. The law reveals both Gods holiness and human sin. The law must be used Gods way
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, ~1Timothy 1:8-9 (NIV)
You can misuse Gods law by
• Subtracting it and ignoring its authority
• Adding to it and become a legalist
• Trivialising it to justify yourself
The NSW government has driving laws and when breached it results in demerit points. Some of you know exactly how many demerit points you have and others don’t have a clue. Demerit points are for lawbreakers, God's law is for those who have rebelled, which is all of us - that is why Christ Jesus came to save sinners.
Paul starts with general rebellion that violate the first 4 Commandments, then he specifically works his way through commandments 5-9
..for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine ~1 Timothy 1:9b-10 (NIV)
Here God's law is being used properly, telling us that God is holy and what is sin. Cultures may have changed on both slave trading and homosexual practice but Gods word has never changed. Notice there is no speculation, this is no myth, this list of sins are so clear, so concrete and full of conviction.
This is sound doctrine
—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine ~1 Timothy 1:10 (NIV)
Sound doctrine is healthy teaching and healthy teaching leads to a healthy church
…that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. ~1 Timothy 1:11 (NIV)
The law and the gospel both agree when it comes to sin but the law can’t do what only the gospel of our Lord Jesus can. That is to save and forgive sinners
The most well known Christian song has to be Amazing Grace, it was written by John Newton, a former slave trader, who cursed God and kidnapped people and sold them into slavery. After coming to Christ, Newton testified against slave trading and helped bring an end to that evil. It was the law of God and not his culture that told John Newton that slave trading was a sin and it was the glorious gospel of the grace that could save him and transform him.
Friends, if you don't let God speak, sure you can avoid hearing the law as it names your sin, you will still find another law to live by and that law will either condemn you or give you a false sense of self-righteousness. But what you will never hear is silence from God...the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God. It’s that gospel that offers Grace, Mercy and Peace
False teachers only have myths and lies to offer, they fail to name sin and fail to offer forgiveness. We either silence false teaching or we silence God!
If we at MBM stop listening to Gods apostle, Paul, we lose the gospel of grace. Unless we guard the truth inside the church we have nothing to offer those outside the church