by Pastor Ayo Sparks
THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCTRINAL SANCTITY
Paul, after his first release from the Roman imprisonment visited the Asian and Macedonian churches. He was alarmed to find out that false teachings had permeated the Ephesian church under the watch of the elders, as he rightly prognosticated and warned again in Acts 20:
Acts 20: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
The same way we are to be careful and choosy with/witty what we eat physically, God is much more concerned and particular about what we feed our souls and spirit man, as much as He does desire for all to be saved.
1Timothy 2: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
It suffices to say that the knowledge of the truth is God’s menu for our spirit man tending towards our spiritual growth.
Mind you, everyone claims to be saying or teaching the truth. But we know that the truth is a Person – Jesus. If it’s not about the Person of Jesus and what He has accomplished for us on/through the cross, it is then not the truth. Therefore, we can now rightly conclude that the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ is God’s menu for our spiritual upbringing, edification, wellness and growth. Anything contrary to that, even whatever merely looks like it is not healthy for our consumption.
The Ephesian Church had begun to feed on fables and stuffs that are not edifying to the church. Paul assigned and encouraged Timothy to undertake the task of restoring doctrinal sanctity, giving whatever it would take! This Paul-given “assignment” to Timothy is the fundamental reason for this pastoral epistle.
1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
Three things quickly:
Paul was an Apostle of Jesus Christ. That is, a one sent by Jesus Christ Himself. As he would say in some other personal introduction of himself “Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, not by the will of men…” For those who understands what that means, Paul was an authority, a custodian of the message and the revelation of Jesus Christ. Hence, one to listen to and follow (doctrine-wise).
Paul’s apostleship was a based on God’s commandment.
Question: what commandment and where is it written in scripture that Paul would or should be an Apostle?
A lot of Christian folks and teachers of the word fail to understand the difference between what the word “commandment” connotes and denotes in the Old Testament compared to its usage in the New Testament. So, they pick the word “commandment” in the New Testament to justify the validity of the Ten Commandments of old.
In the Old Testament, commandments were given by God to the Jews (written on tablets) and by Moses, still to the Jews. In the New Testament, commandments are given by the Spirit mostly to individuals on what to do per time, where to go per time in accordance with the will and purpose of God for the hour or the person. For instance, it was Ananias that received a command from the Lord Himself to go and commission Paul for the task He’s earmarked for him.
Acts 9: And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
The purpose of this emphasis on “commandment” is to clarify what it entails in the Old Testament and what it means in the New Testament. In the New Testament, we work and walk in line with the commandments of God as given through the Spirit or by the Spirit, not those one engraved on stones!
Acts 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
The commandments of old minister death to the dead but those of us who are made alive in Christ Jesus live and operate as the Spirit leads.
Still on what “commandment” implied in the old testament and what it implies in the new, it is safe to know that there’s nothing wrong with the commandments given to the Jews, even till Jesus comes! The only issue is that, aside that the commandments were given specifically to the Jews, it was to reveal their sins to them. The law was given to them due to their lawless natural way of life. If you therefore must have anything to do with the law, you must then either be a Jew or lawless. No one who is born again can be said to be lawless because the Spirit of Truth which abides in us and guides us.
Check the following verses, if you find anything that looks like who you are IN CHRIST, then, the law is for you. Otherwise, divorce the law and learn to live and act as the Spirit commands!
1 Timothy 1: But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons,…
The third thing to note in that verse on is the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is our hope! Any form of teaching that makes you to hope for anything or everything else without Jesus being chief and most fundamental of them all is not God’s prescription for your consumption.
When a believer starts looking away from Jesus as his/her hope, hopelessness soon sets in; frustration and depression will take over because that’s what religion has to offer. And, any form of belief and practice without Jesus being the focus and essence is mere religion.
Glory! The Chief of Sinners Had Been Saved!
1 Timothy 1: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all, for pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
You cannot so much value the free gift of salvation until and except you first see yourself as a sinner that needs a Saviour. Jesus came and died for sinners and only those who first recognize themselves as sinners end up valuing and appreciating the gift of salvation. Unfortunately there are many Nicodemus in the faith who never see themselves as sinners, banking on their strict adherence to the law and high level moral standard. Such folks might be very zealous and religious in their service to God but they can never truly understand the worth of their salvation in Christ and may not ever experience the true joy of salvation. Paul recognized that he was a sinner but only found Grace and mercy with which he was saved. Hence, you see him always celebrating the grace of God that saved him. This is very vital!
We must constantly recognize that the reason why Jesus had to die was to pay for our sins and we must recognize the fact that we all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God, in/through Adam. But glory to Jesus who died for our sins that we might receive the gift of righteousness by faith. This sort of acknowledgement of our sins particularly as it had to do with the sin of Adam is vital to placing appropriate value on the free gift of salvation which has exempted us from eternal damnation to come and has qualified us for eternal abode in Christ.
Paul declaring that of all sinners he was chief was in a sense a show of humility and in another sense a way of appreciating the saving grace of the Almighty God.
More deeply, it implies that if the chief or the chiefest of all sinners has being saved, there is no one that cannot be saved provided the sinner is convicted of sin and come to repentance, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.
As we go about preaching the Gospel of salvation, it is not in us to judge, determine or recognize who can be saved and who cannot. We simply preach and keep preaching. The Holy Spirit does the work of convicting and converting. Grace to us all!
FABLE MAKES FEEBLE!
Nothing strengthens the believer’s heart. Faith like consistence exposure to the gracious and glorious gospel of Christ. Anything else makes a spiritual weakling of a believer. There are so many loaded but spiritually weightless Christians. They are been overloaded with everything but the gospel of Christ!
How does a deep study on the sons of Noah or on Abrahamic background matures the saints? Or, how does the story of Pharaoh assures the saints of their eternal redemption in Christ?
Though teachings like that are not absolutely wrong but they gradually divert your attention and interest from He Who died to save you. Before long, whole the people would be enjoying such “deep expositions” they will unconsciously begin to lose faith in the assurance of their salvation in Christ; gradually begin to rely on self and the works of the law to please God and, more sadly, they will grow weaker and weaker in faith and in the spirit.
Repetition is key to learning. You cannot grow in the faith of Christ if Christ is not always the central focus of all teachings you’re been exposed to.
1 Timothy 1: As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
The proof that you’re grounded in the knowledge of the truth is that, you’ll naturally have and maintain a pure heart towards the faith and others, not hypocrisy or hatred or judgmental dispositions; good conscience not a condemned heart and unfeigned (sincere) faith (which is centered on the finished work of Christ), not reliance on your self- righteousness or personal ability to please God and be accepted to Him. Only exposure to the gospel of our salvation in and through Jesus Christ can do such miracles!
Sadly, the people over whom Paul had bestowed labour in the past have been invaded by philosophers, historians and not true gospelers. I can imagine how Paul would feel – perhaps like a failure. One who had bestowed labour on them in vain. Pause! Have you ever been exposed to the true gospel of Christ which entails eternal salvation only by faith in Jesus Christ? How often are you been made to believe otherwise and do you often get easily convinced otherwise?
Though Timothy had been in Ephesus as a Pastor, he wasn’t carries away or get influenced by the false teachings of the Invaders but was rather grieved (like Lot in Sodom) so much that he preferred to call it quit with pastoring at Ephesus. Paul found no other who could restore doctrinal sanity and sanctity to the Ephesian Church other than Timothy. Can you be trusted with the gospel of Christ, to hold on to it, and to defend it even amongst those who are extreme antagonists? If you can easily be dissuaded from holding on to the gospel of Christ that you’ve received and believed, you’re not rooted and grounded yet – get rooted!
Be another Timothy that is standing firm in the faith of Christ despite the falsehood spreading in his days and such that can be trusted to correct such anomaly. Though it was somewhat a hard task for Timothy (you know what it means to be saddled with the task of standing against false teachings and wrong doctrines in this present time!), Paul encouraged Timothy to stay put reminding him of the prophecies gone ahead of him as though he was born for that same purpose. You too, be encouraged!
Nothing encourages believers like words of prophecy (the unfolding of divine mind and plan for either a particular individual believer or a body of believers). Interestingly, no prophecy is as sure as that which is written in the Bible for our edification. The death and the resurrection of Christ is in itself the fulfilment of all prophecies and the guarantee that every word spoken concerning us by the Spirit of Christ is sure and will definitely come to pass.
Have you ever caught the revelation of God’s mind concerning you? Maybe as you study the word or as spoken by His chosen vessel? It could be “behold, I am with you till the end…” or, “he that spare not his own son… Shall with him also freely give us all things”!
Importantly, understand that each time we preach the gospel, unveiling the revelation of the finished work of Christ, we are correspondingly prophesying into your tomorrow. When we speak of the victory of Christ, we are actually speaking the same dimension of victory concerning you. Hold on to it!
1 Timothy 1: This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck
One way Paul could persuade Timothy to remain in Ephesus was to remind him of the prophecies on his life and ministry (we shall see that subsequently). Also, when you get a word from the Lord, it is for a time and season – hold on to it in faith and in good conscience, knowing that the word is sure.