Getting Our Desires In Line with God's

1 Timothy 2:1-7
26th Sunday after Pentecost – November 13, 2016 (am)

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ENROLL

  • In light of the recent election,  my question this morning is this:
    • How do we as Christians resist the temptation to separate ourselves from those who are different from us or those who pose a threat to us.
    • How do we resist the temptation to be an exclusive group of people that only lets in those who are just like us?

 

GET OUR BEARINGS IN 1 TIMOTHY

  • Specifically – the book is being written to warn Timothy about false teaching (1:3-4)
  • Generally – written to give instruction on how the church is to function, certainly in light of the false teaching but also in a more general sense of what the church ought to always be (1:5).
  • Now, in the beginning of chapter 2, Paul gets to the implementation of the charge.
    • Giving specific instruction on how Timothy is to carry out Paul’s charge, how he is to get the church in Ephesus to be the church God intends, namely a church that operates in love which issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
       
  • And isn’t it interesting, that at the top of Paul’s list, the first item to he addresses, is prayer.=
    • Paul says step #1 in the church being the church is learning to pray for all people, with a special focus on our God ordained leaders, and he calls this “good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior”
    • This is a rich command, a command that we need to hear as a church, especially on the weekend after a presidential election
      • But if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to save that discussion for the end of this message and move directly into the Paul’s basis for this command to pray for all people.
      • Because I think the command will carry far more weight once we understand theological foundation on which this command is being given to us.

 

MAIN POINTS

1    God’s desire for all people to be saved (v. 4)

  • Paul begins by rooting his command to the church to pray for all people in the character of God. (Read vv. 3-4)
  • So we see that the call to be a people who pray for all people is grounded in the fact that we serve a God who desires that all people be saved.
  • Interpretation errors to avoid – we might ask . . .
    • Does this mean all people will be saved?
    • Not saying all people will be saved – Universalism
    • Scripture is clear – Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and there will be many who reject this and will not be saved.
  • Does this mean God’s is not able to do what he wants?
    • Not saying God’s will is thwarted, that he really isn’t all powerful, or sovereign over all things.
      • David Platt Example - If I lie tomorrow (no intention to) – it is not in God’s will, but he is not caught off guard by it.
      • God desires that I not lie but knows that I will.
         
  • What is Paul telling us about God here?
    • When God created humans, it was always his desire that they would live in perfect harmony with him.
    • From the day of Adam’s sin until now, it continues to be his desire now, that all people be saved.
      • In other words, God is for all people. He is on their side. He is in their corner. He wants them to choose rightly and live in a relationship with him!
    • An incredibly encouraging truth!
      • No matter who you are or what you’ve done, God is for you
      • That God is not out to get you
      • And that if it feels like he is out to get you, like everything is going wrong, you can know that this too is just the outworking of his being for you.
      • In other words, he is out to get you only to the extent that
        • he is out to get you to give up your self-sufficiency, your idolatry, and your sin
        • he is out to get you to depend on him, to realize you can’t do this life without him, to come to him, to repent and believe in him, and to know him as your Savior, so that he might rescue you from your peril, not to mention his wrath and eternal punishment for your sins.
           
  • That’s not all!
  • He isn’t just for you, but he is for everyone else around you (and this is where our tendencies to exclude others will start to be exposed in their true light.)
    • God’s desire is not just for you to know him as Savior,
      • but for your family to know him as Savior,
      • for your neighbor who calls the cops when your music is too loud to know him as Savior
      • for the refugee family living down the street to know him as Savior
      • for your president to know him as Savior
      • for Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims and atheists and Bahai and Mormons around the world to know him as Savior
      • even for the murderers and rapists and ISIS to know him as Savior
         
  • Is this a little uncomfortable for anyone? Why?
    • If we’re not careful our Christianity can become a safe little bubble
    • Where only happy things are allowed – things like fellowship dinners, and Sunday School classes, and K-love, and side hugs, and smiling faces are allowed.
    • When we think that God wants to take an Arab Muslim ISIS operative and change his heart and then put him into that bubble – well it can start to feel a bit crowded, and like the bubble is about to pop.
       
  • Before we crowed your bubble with all sorts of people, let’s look at Paul’s proof that God desires to save all people.

2    God’s plan to make a way of salvation for all people. (vv. 5 – 6a)

  • Paul’s proof that our God is a God who really does desire for all people to be saved flows out of this early liturgy or hymn in three assertions(1)
     
    • First, there is one God
      • Why is he telling this to the church? Isn’t this like Theology 101? Did the Ephesian Church think there were many God’s?
      • Paul is most likely correcting one of the errors of the false teachers in Ephesus
         
      • Wrong Understanding
        • Synagogues – Shema – “Here O Israel God is One”
        • Problem: This had taken on an exclusivist flavor
        • Meant to be a statement of God’s universality and unity but throughout Judaism it had taken on the flavor that God is our God – Israel’s God – and so he is for us but not for anyone else.
           
      • We must be careful that we not fall into this same error.
        • How might we be tempted to look at God as “ours” and not as the God of all people?
        • One possible application is how we do missions among people from other different religions and cultures and ethnicities.
          • Not just referring to overseas missions
            • Also referring to your neighbor down the street.
        • When we share Christ with people different from us, and long for them to know Christ, how do we expect them to change when they accept Christ?
          • Do they need to change the way the dress? (Burkas)
          • Do they change where they worship? (church vs. synagogue vs. mosque)
          • Do they need to change how they pray? (pray kneeling, facing east)
          • Do they need to change which word they use for God? (Allah vs God)
        • I am Not saying
          • These all have one answer – they all are situational
          • Not saying people should retain all of their former way of life when they come to Christ
        • I am saying
          • There is a temptation for all Christians to think, either consciously or subconsciously, that people must come to look like us, and worship like us, and use our language if they are to properly serve our God.
             
      • Paul is refuting that exclusivist idea by saying – There is one God - he is for all people and he is over all people.
         
    • Second – there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus
      • The one God has sent one mediator.
      • Separation - Scripture teaches that God is Holy, and therefore separate from sinful humanity and we cannot come to him because of our sin.
      • Mediator – we need someone who is both perfect and holy like God and who is also a human like us to bridge this gap and mediate between us.
        • Jesus is that mediator, sent by God for this purpose
      • How does Jesus mediate between God and man?
  • Third, who gave himself as a ransom for all.
    • Ransom
      • The particular construction of this Greek word for Ransom = A price paid to free captives(2) with an emphasis on the idea of substitution.
    • Our state
      • We are captives to sin and captives to God’s wrath towards sin and captives of the punishment for sin, which is our own death.
    • Jesus’ Ransoming work
      • Jesus, the one mediator, gave himself as a ransom, in the sense that he gave his life in exchange for ours. He paid our punishment by taking the sins we’ve committed and making them his own, taking the wrath we deserve and receiving it upon himself, and taking the punishment of death that sins warrant and enduring that punishment in our place.
    • The proper response
      • Can’t go on without saying . . . If you are here this morning and you have not put your trust in Jesus Christ you are still a captive of sin, still an object of God’s wrath, and the day is quickly approaching, perhaps even today, when you will receive the punishment of eternal death in hell for your sins.
    • God for all
      • But God, who desires all people to be saved, has provided a way for you to be saved.
      • The one God, has sent one mediator, to give his life as a ransom, as your substitute, dying in your place, and, as this verse says, he is a ransom for all.
      • I exhort you this morning, do not trust in your goodness to save you, do not trust in other Gods or other religions to save you,
        • Put your trust in Jesus Christ, who gave his life for you, and be made right with to God, who wants you to be saved.
           
  • So we see thus far God’s desire is for all to be saved, he has planned a way for all people to be saved, and finally . . . .

3    God’s timing for all people to hear his plan (vv. 7)

  • Paul concludes verse 6 by saying – “which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
    • Meaning: In God’s sovereign wisdom, he waited until just the right moment to make known his plan of salvation.(3)
    • All of those who came before Jesus longed for it, got hints of it, and waited for it – but now it has finally come.
    • True for Paul, true for Timothy, and it is still true today, will be until Christ returns.
       
  • Paul concludes our passage in Verse 7 by saying – For this (the testimony that Jesus Christ came to be a ransom for all at just the right moment) I was appointed a preacher and an apostle
     
    • The truth that God desires all people to be saved, and that he has made a way for this to happen through Jesus Christ, must be preached and spread.
      • But surely Timothy already knew this. What is Paul’s point in telling him this?
         
    • (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
      • Paul’s point is that God’s saving work must be made known not just to the Jews – as the false teachers were saying
      • But to the Gentiles – to all those outside the Jewish faith – certainly not to the exclusion of the Jews but included with the Jews - in other words, Paul is saying that the gospel must go out to all people so that all people might know how to be saved.
         
  • In summary, Paul says in this passage
    • Timothy, the first priority in getting the church to be the church is to urge them to pray for all people.
       
    • Why?
      • Because God desires all people to be saved
      • Because God has made a way of salvation for all people
      • And because now is the time that his way of salvation has been and is being made known.
         
  • Let’s conclude by looking at Paul’s command to pray – the main point of this passage

4    Getting our desires in line with God’s (vv. 1 – 3)

  • Pray in all ways
    • 4 different words, most unique is thanksgiving
  • for all people
    • Not praying through the phone book
    • Praying for all kinds of people(4)
      • Remember the Arab Muslim ISIS operative who might burst our Christian bubble if we let him in? Paul is saying – pray for Him, that God might bring him into the kingdom and into our bubbles of Christianity
      • Not just him, pray for
        • Wicked, foul mouthed, coworkers
        • Rude neighbors
        • Kids who terrorize the neighborhood or bully your son or daughter
        • Convicts
        • Republicans
        • Democrats
           
  • Paul doesn’t stop here – he goes on to add one special category requiring our prayers.
     
  • Pray for kings and all in high positions
    • Here we are, you knew it was coming – Pray for Donald Trump!
    • Before you think you could never pray for someone like that, consider that Paul’s knew a little something about immoral leaders
      • Emperor Nero – about as wicked as they come and particularly so towards the Christian church
    • This is the proper response in our post-election season.
      • Whether you were a Never-Trumper or a Hillary Hater throughout the election, scripture is clear on how you should respond now
      • You should pray.
        • We might go so far as to say, the political responsibility of every Christian is to pray for their leaders.
        • Pray with the same fervency that you campaigned for or against them.
    • Reason – so that we might lead peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.
      • Simply means – pray for your leaders so that they will cultivate a climate where the church can be the church.
        • Not building a home on a couple acres of land with a big screen tv, fridge full of food, and limited interaction with the world.
        • Free from oppression.
        • Above ground and not underground.
        • So that godliness might be cultivated within it
        • And they might live dignified lives towards those outside it, lives that encourage outsiders to join it.
           
  • Final question, what does Paul want us to pray for?
    • What should be our prayer for all people?
    • What should be our prayer for Donald Trump and all our leaders so that they cultivate a climate where the church can be the church?
       
  • Based on what God desires, based on what Christ has done in becoming a ransom for all, based on the fact that God has made known his saving ways to us now – the clear implication is that the church is called to pray for the salvation of all people no matter who they are or how different they are from us or how unthinkable it is to consider them within our church.

 

  • Closing Question – Are your desires in line with God’s desires?
    • Do you desire that all people be saved?
    • Do you desire that all people be brought into the church?
    • Do you desire to see these pews filled with all ethnicities, all religious backgrounds, all walks of life, and all political parties?
    • If not, I encourage you to begin by praying for all people to be saved.
      • This prayer is not only in line with God’s heart
      • It has the power to change our own heart as we ask, seek, and knock that God make us into a community or worshippers that reflects his heart.
    • I’d encourage you to begin tonight – by joining us as we pray for the persecuted church – and those leaders and operatives who are persecuting the church.
      • For as Paul says to Timothy – This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.

Let’s pray.


Footnotes

[1] Early Creed: It contains three parts: The unity of God, Christ as mediator, and Christ’s death as securing redemption. (Fee, 65)

[2] Knight III, 121

[3] At just the right moment (Wallace, 157) 

[4] Knight III, 115 – based on Paul’s typical way of using this phrase

 

Work Cited

Fee, Gordon D. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus. Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody, 1984.
Kelly, J.N.D. The Pastoral Epistles. Hendrickson Publishers: Peabody, 1960.
Knight III, George W. The Pastoral Epistles. (NIGTC) Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1992.
Wallace, Daniel. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 1996.