Sermons

Focused on Faith and Love

June 13, 2021 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: First Timothy - Guard the Deposit

Topic: Faith Passage: 1 Timothy 1:1–1:7

The book we will begin this morning, was written by the apostle Paul, to a rare and precious man named Timothy.  Paul called Timothy my true child in the faith. Although Timothy was already saved when he met Paul, Timothy regarded Paul as his spiritual father and Paul regarded Timothy as his own son. 

Timothy’s devotion to Paul, AND to Christ, earned him very  high praise! Paul said, “I have no one else like him, who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” 

Timothy’s devotion to Christ was shown by his concern for the welfare of Christ’s people, even above his own interests!  This devotion should be common among Christians, yet Paul said he rarely found people like Timothy. Paul went on to say, “You know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. (Phil. 2:20,21) I hope you have a desire to have these things said of you and your service to the Lord.

Timothy paid the ultimate price for his faithfulness to Christ. He died a martyrs death like the 12 apostles.  According to both the earliest church historian, Eusebius and Foxes Book of Martyrs, Timothy was beaten to death by a mob in Ephesus after he denounced the worship of the Greek goddess Diana.  

Because Timothy was such a faithful man, Paul could rely on him to represent him and speak for him when he could not be present. This was the situation at Ephesus. God had led Paul on to Macedonia yet there were important issues to be addressed at Ephesus.  So Paul told Timothy to remain there, “so that you may charge certain persons NOT to teach any DIFFERENT doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than “advancing God’s work” which is by faith” (NIV)

There apparently was an obsessive interest in Jewish genealogies and finding hidden spiritual meaning in them or making up stories about people in the genealogies, or claiming special spiritual status by a connection to certain tribe or family in the genealogy. All that might be really fascinating, but it is only speculation.  And all that kind of thing does is distract people from the real work of God and the real goal God has for us.

Paul said the “goal of our instruction is love from pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith!”  But “Some of your teachers have turned aside from these things that matter to meaningless talk”. Paul said, “The kingdom of God does consist of words but in power!” and “God has given us a Spirit of power and love!” For some the Christian life is merely information, words, arguments, about various beliefs. Paul said No! It is essentially about loving God and other people from the heart!  

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Sound doctrine is that Christ died to forgive our sins by His blood, to restore us to fellowship with God, and to make us new people, by sending His Spirit into our hearts. We are cleansed of sin to become a dwelling place for God. We each become a holy place, a temple of the Holy Spirit. 

Sound doctrine is that we receive both forgiveness of sin AND the Holy Spirit by faith! You cannot receive any of this by being good enough!  Paul said “He saved us NOT because of works done in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5,6)  We are washed, and made new, and the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us, richly, simply by trusting in Jesus.

Sound doctrine teaches us that the primary fruit of this new life is love; we love God and we love other people.  By placing our faith in Jesus, miraculously we come into fellowship with God, and the love of God is poured out into our hearts and we begin to  to love with God’s love.  Love is the goal and the fruit of sound doctrine in your life! 

*So Paul begins by telling Timothy to instruct certain men NOT to teach any “different doctrine”. We must always ask ourselves (about anything that we hear), “Does this teaching sound like the same thing Paul, Peter, John or the other NT authors wrote to the churches. Or is this strange or different from the core message of the Bible. 

Tell them NOT “to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations.” Some people love to talk about things that are either not in the Bible, or were never meant to be the core message of the Bible, or simply focus on things that God has not fully revealed to us yet.  “They promote speculation!”  

The word used here could be translated meaningless or controversial questions, debates, or arguments.  I love the KJV here; they “give heed to things which minister questions”. They minister questions!! That is their ministry!

It is OK to have and ask questions! But some people focus mainly on things in the Bible they don’t understand. The Bible says “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things he has revealed belong to us and to our children forever”.  Our focus can’t be those secret things!  Our focus must be on the things God has clearly revealed!  We don’t know everything, yet.  We can be obsessed with resolving the goodness of God with evil and horrible things that happen to people in this world, or forever trying to analyze why some people are not healed, or stuck on questioning why God did something in the Bible that you can’t understand.  These have a place but they can deter us from the GOAL, the emphasis, of our work and teaching. 

One commentary said “All teaching must be judged by what it produces.” Is what you are talking about (or listening to, or reading) producing faith and love?  Or is it mainly pulling you deeper into fruitless discussion of ideas and questions about things we cannot know for certain?   All teaching produces something.  All  talk produces – either spiritual edification or emptiness!   You can sense it in your spirit when the talk turns to frivolous topics! The spiritual edification immediately evaporates from the room.  

This is really a man vs God issue. On the one hand there are human stories, ideas, theories, speculations that do not have the backing of God’s word. They do not have the life of God’s Spirit in them.  On the other hand we have solid truth that is revealed by God, breathed out by God, and that comes with power and life.  Jesus said the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. There is a big difference between words that are Spirit and life, and words that are mere speculation!

I think this passage can be taken as a warning against Bible Numerology, finding secret messages encoded in numbers in the Bible, or endlessly arguing over which translation of the Bible everybody should use, or being consumed with debates about the actual day Jesus was born, or whether Christians should celebrate Christmas or Easter or let their kids trick or treat….or becoming obsessed with certain theological debates that probably will not be fully understood till we are in heaven (Calvinism vs Armenianism). We can learn about those things and have opinions on all those things but we must be careful not to be diverted from God’s true work, and God’s true goal for our lives.

Paul said these teachers promote speculation,“RATHER than promoting the stewardship (or the work) of God that is by faith”.  There is NOT ONLY the problem that these things are just speculation, there is the problem of what they keep you FROM!  The keep you from promoting the real work of God in people’s lives which comes by faith.

Sound teaching is focused on faith in Christ. Our message is about Christ, NOT speculations, spiritual hunches, hidden messages that no one has ever seen before! God’s work is furthered in your own life, AS YOU BELIEVE GOD, and trust in him.  God’s plan is to save people by faith and that we would “continue in faith established and firm, not moved from the hope of the gospel”.  Romans 1:17 “The righteous person shall live by faith!” 

Many Christian people think they are quite advanced because of what they know about God or the Bible, but they don’t trust Christ or believe God in daily life. We are a people who believe God...as a way of life!  Everything comes to us through faith. 

*And...The fruit of that faith is love! This is at the heart of sound teaching.  Genuine faith in God expresses itself in love for people!  Paul said, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” 

*He told Timothy, “the goal of our teaching is love!”  Love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”  NASB 

The Gospel has a goal!  And what you think that goal is will affect how you live!  Not seeing the goal, will lead you to miss the goal.  This is not a small problem! The ability to read the Bible, then to emphasize the wrong thing is simply amazing!  Always a battle to keep the main thing the main thing. 

Even “sound teaching or orthodoxy may also NOT produce this kind of love if people lose sight of the goal of biblical instruction. In other words, the study of the Word is never to be an end in itself. It is a means to an end, an indispensable means, but the end is the character of Jesus Christ reproduced in the believer by the fruit of the Spirit. When we study and teach the Word, THIS MUST BE EVER IN FRONT OF OUR MINDS! The end is love for God and love for men.”  

J Hampton Keathly, Bible.org. 

John said that nothing shows (or proves) that we know God like love. “Dear Friends let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7,8  “If we love one another God lives in us and his love is made complete in us”.  4:12 

Jesus said, “THIS is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you”.

Romans 13:9 All that God has commanded is summed up in this one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  

Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  

*Love comes NOT from speculations and empty words but from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.   

*First - “from a pure heart”.  Christ changes our hearts! He does that by sending his Spirit into our hearts! It is the miracle of the new birth that cleanses us from evil and selfish motives, and enable us to love people.

It is important that we talk about love from a pure hear today. Because in our world, love is defined as approval of sexual immortality. Love is defined as inclusion, tolerance, even celebration of sin. There is no concern with purity of heart. 

But Christian love is rooted in purity and in obedience to God. John said, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.”  We don’t truly love people by denying the reality of sin.  We are only truly loving when we are loyal to God and loyal to his commands. 

*Second: Love comes from a good conscience.

Christ alone can totally deal with our sins AND with the guilty feelings that accompany our sin.  Hebrews 10:2-4 says The OT sacrifices would have stopped IF they had been able to clear our conscience.  “For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sin or “would no longer have any consciousness of sins?”  But that didn’t happen because in those sacrifices there was actually  “a reminder of sins every year”. “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin”.  This imperfect cleansing of conscience is all contrasted with the perfect ability of Christ’s sacrifice to deal with our sins forever and therefore to deal with the problem of sins continually weighing on our conscience year after year and day after day.

No one living under the crushing weight of a condemned conscience will really be able to love anybody. You will be thinking only of yourself and your own performance and seeking to justify or excuse your misery.   

But Christ also empowers us to live with a good conscience, BY releasing us from living in the sin, which our conscience condemns!  Romans 8 “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….FOR the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”  

Our conscience tells us when we are doing good or doing bad.  It approves or accuses.  Paul said, “Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity.”  Having a good conscience means we are doing what is good.

When we do sin we consciously bring our sin under the blood of Christ and turn from sin, and then we diligently seek to keep a good conscience, as the Spirit helps us to say “no” to sin.  Because Christ brought out from the bondage of sin, we begin to live our lives, like Paul, with a good conscience. 

*Finally: Love comes from a sincere faith (or genuine faith).  We have already said much on this!  Love is the sure sign of sincere faith in God.

*Then a final warning from Paul in verse 6, “Certain persons, by swerving (or turning away) from these, have wandered away into vain discussion”.  Some have turned away from love, that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.  IE Some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things that really matter and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 

*Are you centered on loving God and loving people like you once did, or has something else become your spiritual emphasis? Many years later, after Paul wrote these things, Jesus said to the church at Ephesus, “But I have this against you, that you have lost your first love”. You have abandoned, or departed from the love you had at first.  Love matters!

It is easy to think we have gone a long ways spiritually with just correct information.  We haven’t.  We really haven’t gone anywhere with just information: Paul said “knowledge makes arrogant but love edifies.”

Peter said, “Above all, love each other fervently, because love covers a multitude of sins.”  1 Peter 4:8 This is not a side issue!  Love is the goal of the gospel. Husbands are to love their wives.  Women are to love their husbands and to love their children.  We are all to love one another deeply from the heart.  

True teaching or sound teaching will make us more loving, compassionate, more caring, more selfless. It will make us more like Christ.  

Keep away from different doctrines, speculations, endless questions, and arguments that will keep you from Gods plan and God’s goal for your life!  

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