The Epistles to the Evangelists

1 Timothy Chapter 1
1 Timothy 1:1 - Apostles and Evangelists
1 Timothy 1:1-2 - Initial Greeting in I Timothy
1 Timothy 1:3-4 - Problems with the Law System
1 Timothy 1:5 - The Goal of our Instruction
1 Timothy 1:6-11 - Fruitless Discussion
1 Timothy 1:11 - The Gospel of Glory
1 Timothy 1:12-13 - Thanks to Jesus our Lord
1 Timothy 1:14 - Abundant Grace
1 Timothy 1:15-16 - Christ Came to Save Sinners
1 Timothy 1:17 - To the King...
1 Timothy 1:18 - "Fight the Good Fight"
1 Timothy 1:18-20 - Keeping Faith and a Good Conscience

1 Timothy Chapter 2
1 Timothy 2:1-4 - Call to Prayer
1 Timothy 2:3-4 - The Knowledge of the Truth
1 Timothy 2:5 - One God, and One Mediator
1 Timothy 2:6-7 - The Testimony
1 Timothy 2:8 - Instructions for Christian Men
1 Timothy 2:9 - Some Instructions for Christian Women
1 Timothy 2:10-13 - More Instructions for Christian Women
1 Timothy 2:13-15 - The Role of Men and Women

1 Timothy Chapter 3
1 Timothy 3:1 - Introduction to Overseers
1 Timothy 3:1 - Another "Trustworthy Statement"
1 Timothy 3:2 - Some Qualities of a Bishop
1 Timothy 3:2-3 - More Qualities of a Bishop
1 Timothy 3:2-7 - And Still More
1 Timothy 3:8-13 - Deacons
1 Timothy 3:14-15 - Conduct in the House of God
1 Timothy 3:16 - The Mystery of Godliness
1 Timothy 3:16 - Three Points in the “Mystery of Godliness”
1 Timothy 3:16 - More “Mystery of Godliness”

1 Timothy Chapter 4
1 Timothy 4:1-3 - The Coming "Apostasy"
1 Timothy 4:2 - More on Demonic Forces"
1 Timothy 4:4-5 - Wrong Focus
1 Timothy 4:6-7 - Nourished on Words
1 Timothy 4:7-9 - Godliness
1 Timothy 4:8-11 - Prescribe and Teach “Godliness”
1 Timothy 4:12 - “Show Yourself an Example”
1 Timothy 4:13-16 - Insuring Salvation

1 Timothy Chapter 5
1 Timothy 5:1-2 - Interpersonal Relations
1 Timothy 5:3-5, 8-10 - Windows Indeed
1 Timothy 5:6, 11-15 - More on Widows
1 Timothy 5:7-8, 16 - Financial Considerations
1 Timothy 5:17-21 - Interactions with Elders
1 Timothy 5:22-25 - "Random" Points

1 Timothy Chapter 6
1 Timothy 6:1-2 - Slaves and Masters
1 Timothy 6:3-4 - Sound Words
1 Timothy 6:4-6 - Constant Friction
1 Timothy 6:6-8 - Some Poignant Thoughts
1 Timothy 6:9-10 - The Love of Money
1 Timothy 6:9-10 - Destruction Associated with Money
1 Timothy 6:10-12 - Proper and Positive Pursuit
1 Timothy 6:12-13 - The Good Confession
1 Timothy 6:12-15 - A Weighty Charge
1 Timothy 6:14-16 - Dwelling in Unapproachable Light
1 Timothy 6:17-19 - More on "Riches"
1 Timothy 6:20-21 - Falsely Called “Knowledge”

Titus Chapter 1
Titus 1:1,4 - Opening of the Epistle to Titus
Titus 1:2-3 - The Proclamation
Titus 1:5-9 - Appointing Elders
Titus 1:10-11 - Handling Rebellious Men
Titus 1:12-14 - Reproving the Cretans
Titus 1:15-16 - Purity

Titus Chapter 2
Titus 2:1-5 - Sound Doctrine and Christian Conduct
Titus 2:4-5 - Instructions for Christian Young Women
Titus 2:6-8 - Instructions for Christian Young Men
Titus 2:9-10 - Instructions for Bond-Slaves
Titus 2:11 - Grace of God Has Appeared
Titus 2:11-13 - Grace "Instructs"
Titus 2:13 - What to "Look for"
Titus 2:14 - What Christ Did
Titus 2:14 - A People for Himself
Titus 2:15 – “These Things Speak…With Authority”

Titus Chapter 3
Titus 3:1-2 - Some Divine Reminders
Titus 3:2-3 - A Backward Look
Titus 3:4 - God's Kindness and Love
Titus 3:5 - He Saved Us!
Titus 3:5-6 - Out of God’s Riches
Titus 3:7-8 - “Justified,” “Grace,” “Heirs,” “Hope”
Titus 3:8-9 - More on "Good Deeds"
Titus 3:9-11 - Reject a Factious Man
Titus 3:12-15 - Closing out Titus

2 Timothy Chapter 1
2 Timothy 1:1-2 - Paul to Timothy: Second Epistle
2 Timothy 1:3-5 - Remembrances
2 Timothy 1:6 - Timothy's "Spiritual Gift"
2 Timothy 1:7 - Courage!
2 Timothy 1:8 - Not Ashamed of Jesus
2 Timothy 1:9 - The Power of God
2 Timothy 1:10-11 - The Revelation of the Gospel
2 Timothy 1:12 - Strength for Suffering
2 Timothy 1:13 - Retain the Standard
2 Timothy 1:14 - Guarding the Treasure
2 Timothy 1:15-18 - Some Losers and Winners

2 Timothy Chapter 2
2 Timothy 2:1 - Be Strong in Grace
2 Timothy 2:2 - Entrust to Faithful Men
2 Timothy 2:3-7 - Soldiers, Athletes, and Farmers
2 Timothy 2:8-10 - Hardship for the Gospel
2 Timothy 2:10 - Chosen, Salvation, Glory
2 Timothy 2:11-13 - Major “Trustworthy Statement”
2 Timothy 2:14-17 - The Main Thing...
2 Timothy 2:17-19 - The Firm Foundation Stands
2 Timothy 2:19 - From the Great Seal
2 Timothy 2:20-22 - In a Large House
2 Timothy 2:23-24 - The Lord’s Bond-servant
2 Timothy 2:25-26 - Release from Captivity

2 Timothy Chapter 3
2 Timothy 3:1-4 - The Coming of Difficult Times
2 Timothy 3:5-9 - Just as Jannes and Jambres…
2 Timothy 3:10 - Following Paul’s Example
2 Timothy 3:10-12 - Powering through Persecutions
2 Timothy 3:13-15 - Key to Victory
2 Timothy 3:15-16 - All Scripture Is Inspired...
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture Is Profitable

2 Timothy Chapter 4
2 Timothy 4:1-2 - The Charge!
2 Timothy 4:2 - Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort
2 Timothy 4:3-4 - Telling People What They Want to Hear



Apostles and Evangelists

The epistles to Timothy and Titus open with the same phrase in their greetings: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus” (or “Jesus Christ”). The word apostle means “one sent out,” someone on a special mission, or someone sent as an ambassador or authorized to speak for the one who sent him. In new covenant writings, there are basically two kinds of apostles: those sent out by congregations, such as when Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the church in Antioch of Syria as recorded in Acts chapter thirteen; and, apostles of Jesus Christ, specifically commissioned by Him. The original Twelve were chosen by Jesus as recorded in the gospel accounts. Judas betrayed the Lord, and went out and hanged himself; hence Matthias was selected to take his place as recorded in Acts chapter one. The apostle Paul was chosen, “as one untimely born,” by special calling as recorded in Acts chapters nine, twenty-two, and twenty-six. These thirteen “apostles of Jesus Christ” were the only ones able to make a legitimate claim to being the inspired apostles, and were the only ones who could represent themselves as the specific messengers of Christ. Consequently, the new testament teaching is also styled “the apostles’ doctrine,” and any doctrines that would contradict that body of teaching would therefore be false. “Even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you,” asserted Paul to the Galatian brethren, “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6). Thus the former Saul of Tarsus, when introducing himself by letter to two of his closest associates, still uses the authoritative phrase, “an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:1). That phrase carries the appropriate weight, not only for Timothy and Titus, but also for anyone who happens to read these letters!

God did indeed give apostles of Christ for the instruction and direction of the church. Another important office that Jesus gave to the church, according to Ephesians 4:11, was that of evangelist. The word evangelist comes from evangel, the Greek word meaning “the good message” or “the good news,” usually translated gospel. The primary function of evangelists is to preach the gospel; hence the term preacher is often a new covenant synonym for evangelist. “But you,” the apostle of Christ instructed Timothy, “be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). Timothy clearly was an evangelist, and since Titus was given a parallel set of instructions to what Timothy received, Titus clearly was an evangelist also. Furthermore, the men who often traveled with Paul and performed the same functions as Timothy and Titus were evangelists also. The only one so named was “Philip the evangelist” (Acts 21:8).

The apostles of Jesus Christ were to receive the inspired instruction from Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and get a widespread base established for the continuing development of the church. Thus “the apostles’ doctrine” was identified as authoritative, and all future teaching was to be compared to that doctrine. Even Jude, whose epistle was included in the new covenant writings, makes his appeal: “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:17).

The evangelists of the first century were to follow the direct instructions of the apostles. The job of the evangelists of the twenty-first century is to follow the instructions of the apostles as indicated in the teaching and examples of the New Testament. Hence the epistles to the evangelists figure prominently in God’s plan.

The office and function of evangelists, doing the work as directed in the New Testament, is critically important. Often, as in the case of Titus, they would work an area, setting things in order and appointing elders (or bishops) in congregations, and rebuking the bishops when necessary. So significant is the role of evangelists in the structure of the church that the developing Catholic Church of the late first century destroyed the office of evangelist as it simultaneously elevated one man and called him the Bishop. Modern saints need to learn and pay attention!! Thus these are “epistles to evangelists” rather than the perverted term “pastoral epistles.”



Initial Greeting in I Timothy

The apostle Paul wrote the first epistle to Timothy after the closure of the history recorded in the book of Acts, sometime around AD 62 or a little later. Paul had been released from prison, and, as he indicates, he had departed for Macedonia [Philippi, Thessalonica]. Timothy is in Ephesus at the time of this letter, but where Paul was at that time is unknown. The congregation at Ephesus had been started or greatly augmented by the apostle on his third missionary journey, had grown rapidly, and had elders [bishops, or pastors]. Timothy, working as an evangelist in that area, needs this instruction from Paul to do his part in guiding the direction and expansion of the church in Ephesus and all Asia.

These personal and sincere words of greeting to Timothy testify to the genuineness of the letter, and not something made up by a later imposter. These are the “true words of God”!!



Problems with the Law System

Men who did not understand the difference between “the Law of Moses” and “the faith of Christ” dogged the apostle Paul all his Christian life. Barnabas and Paul had just finished up the first missionary journey, coming to the base church in Antioch of Syria, and there arose a major problem over this issue. Luke recorded the statement of those from the “converted” Pharisees in Jerusalem, “It is necessary to circumcise them [the Gentiles], and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.’ ” (Acts 15:5). From that point on a significant portion of Paul’s public teaching and letters are devoted to clarifying the difference between “the Law” and “the faith.” The congregation in Ephesus, having begun with Jews converted from the synagogue, apparently continued to have these problems. Thus the apostle has some instructions for Timothy.

“Therefore the Law,” Paul informed the Galatian brethren, “has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Without the backdrop of the Law, with its teachings, types, foreshadows, and history, the significance of the new covenant system of faith would not be very understandable. But with the aid of the “tutor,” interested people can understand the faith of Christ, and through obedience to its gospel, be justified. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:25). The system of law served its purpose; now it is time to move on to “furthering the administration of God, which is by faith.”



The Goal of our Instruction

There have always been those who are most concerned about outward appearance. The “whitewashed tombs,” the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, stand as a great example. “You outwardly appear righteous,” was Jesus’ divine analysis, “but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28). The Jewish society, operating under the full knowledge of the Law, tended to produce this type of hypocrisy among its leadership. The Pharisees were the teacher/leaders, and therefore to be the examples to the rest of their synagogues, but in failing to live up to the law and shackled by guilty consciences, they then put up the pretense of living the law. “They do all their deeds to be noticed by men,” was the Lord’s blunt exposure (Matthew 23:5).

Such was the society of the synagogue out of which grew the congregation in Ephesus. The “loud mouths” of Jewish background which had not processed the difference between Christianity and Judaism were still locked into a similar type of hypocrisy and exercising influence in the congregation wherein Timothy was laboring. Paul therefore explains: “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). The word “instruction” here is not just a recommended list; it embodies the force of teaching that needs to be carried out!

The goal, the end product, of new covenant teaching cannot be accomplished by the old covenant system. Hence those who are attempting to hold on to the old covenant in any way are locked out of the spiritual blessings of the new covenant: no new covenant love, no new covenant “good conscience,” and no new covenant “sincere faith.” New wine cannot be put into old wineskins, and those who attempt to live as old covenant people end up being hypocrites without the sincere faith of those who have come under the terms of the new!



Fruitless Discussion

The attempt to live under the terms of the old covenant ends up being the way of death! The apostle Paul called the law system “the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones” (2 Corinthians 3:7). Who, then, in an undeluded, right mind, would promote such a dead system? One of the key “take-aways” of the apostle’s exhortations to Timothy here is that there are many people who can’t think straight, who are somewhat ignorant, or who make big conclusions based on incomplete information or understanding. The “god of this world,” Satan, does indeed “blind the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The congregation in Ephesus needed to be kept on the right doctrinal path, otherwise she and most of her souls would end up in the lake of fire. Timothy would indeed have to have the information and courage to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines.” Through this letter, Timothy clearly had Paul the apostle’s backing!



The Gospel of Glory

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the great theme of the ages! All history from “in the beginning” through Jesus’ ascension pointed to that time, and all the important work of God from that moment on was and is based on that gospel. The gospel, the “good news,” is variously described as “the gospel of Christ,” the “gospel of God,” the “gospel of peace,” the “gospel of grace,” the “gospel of your salvation,” and here in Paul’s first letter to Timothy “the glorious gospel,” or alternatively, “the gospel of glory.” This is interesting terminology, and deserves a deeper look.

In his first epistle to the Corinthian brethren, the apostle spoke in some detail of the gospel, noting that it contained the basic concept “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Hence, in comport with the expression “obedient to the gospel,” a repentant individual dies to sin, is buried in the watery grave of immersion into Christ, and is raised in the likeness of Jesus’ resurrection to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-11). Thus, the “gospel of peace” contains the mechanism by which the formerly alienated sinner can have “peace with God” through His reconciliation accomplished in his obedience to that gospel (Ephesians 6:15). It is “the gospel of salvation” because in it the individual receives forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:13). Likewise it is the “gospel of the grace of God” because in obedience to its terms the manifold grace of God is extended to the now blessed saint (Acts 20:24). But the gospel is the vehicle to more than even these awesome and wonderful blessings.

This, then, is gospel, as Paul described it, “with which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:11). This gospel saves; this gospel grants forgiveness and peace; this gospel opens the way into the grace of God; and this gospel makes possible the transformation of the inner man through the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Christ. What a stewardship indeed, since it had not yet been written and recorded in the completed sacred writings. Paul held that trust in high regard, and defended the gospel against all those who would pervert or twist it, especially against those who claimed “to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”



Thanks to Jesus our Lord

It is clear from the word of God that the Almighty is less concerned about where we have been than where we are going! No matter how seemingly “saintly” a life an individual might have led prior to his immersion into Christ, his “small” sins (“small” to him, maybe, but “giant” in the sight of God) separated Him from his Maker, and transformed him into an enemy. “For if while we were enemies,” the apostle Paul had reminded the Roman brethren, “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). The raw materials for God’s instruments of righteousness are abject sinners, strangers to the covenant of righteousness, without hope and without God in this world. The man who penned those words and expressed those concepts was very conscious of his own standing before the Lord prior to his immersion at the hands of Ananias, and was grateful to the All Merciful for giving him another opportunity to serve Him in carrying out the greatest of all purposes.

Conscious, then, of the great mercy of God exhibited through Jesus Christ, Paul was willing to offer his life as a living sacrifice to the One who saved him. Persecutions, privations, punishments, and prison could not turn him from proclaiming the gospel to the lost, and serving to preserve the saints. His example is worthy of our emulation!!



Abundant Grace

It cannot be overemphasized: there is no grace under law! The system of law is inflexible: “one and done”; one sin and the person is dead spiritually and separated from God. The apostle Paul, to illustrate this point, quoted from the Law of Moses itself, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them” (Galatians 3:10). It is evident, in order for God to save truth-seekers from the cursed fires of hell, another system, a system of “grace,” must be brought in. “The Law was given through Moses,” thus affirmed the apostle John, whereas “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). God in His mercy covers the negatives of the saint’s life; His grace is His giving the saint all the positives of the terms of the new covenant. “We believe,” stated the apostle Peter at the first formal welcoming of the Gentiles into the early church at a meeting in Jerusalem, “that we [the Jews] are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they [the Gentiles] are” (Acts 15:11). The salvation of the Gentiles by faith through grace (operative at immersion into Christ) was clearer than the salvation of those coming out of Judaism because it was not cluttered with remnants of the Law.

The extreme hostility that the former Paul had for Christianity made him conscious of how great an effort God had gone to reconcile mankind to Himself, and to reconcile Paul personally. His words are worth restating: “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.” Amen!



Christ Came to Save Sinners

Man, in general, is afraid of facing God. He is only one step away from his first ancestor, Adam, who hid in the garden because he was afraid. The guilty conscience, built into every human being who has crossed the line and has committed sin against his Creator, condemns the individual, and his tendency is to figure out ways in which he thinks he is hiding from God. It is roughly equivalent to the small child covering his face with a dishcloth, and then crying out, “You can’t see me!” To bring man out of his hiding, God sent the gospel of Christ into the world. The first portion of the gospel brings the individual to accountability before God, and acquaints him with the penalty of eternal punishment as the consequence for that sin. The next portion of the gospel brings the message of what Jesus did through the cross to redeem man to Himself. The third portion then gives the specifics of how each lost soul might secure for himself the blessings of that salvation.

God’s patience is extended to anyone who is currently processing the fact that Jesus died for him, was buried, and was raised to the power position to save him. But “today” is the day of salvation, and “now” is the acceptable time, before it is too late. “Repent, and be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!!” (Acts 2:38).



To the King...

How many words could be used to praise God? With what words could anyone describe the Majestic God? The apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has some of best that could be offered. In describing Jesus Christ, revelation of the awesome God, the apostle states that He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He runs out of superlatives!

Similarly, after speaking of the great mercy and grace extended to sinners (of which Paul regarded himself as “foremost”), the apostle launches into another set of descriptive words and phrases setting forth the greatness and worthiness of the Prince and Savior: “Now to the King eternal,” he opens his doxology, “immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17). Certainly these descriptions are worthy of examination.

The apostle Paul, considering the wretchedness of his condition prior to his immersion into Christ, certainly would have the highest praise for his deliverance and his Deliverer. Having been a “blasphemer and persecutor and violent aggressor,” and very well aware of the eternity in the lake of fire for those found “not knowing God,” he lauds the Jesus who met him on the Damascus Road and sent Ananias with the words of what he should do to secure his salvation. The mercy, grace, patience, and love that Jesus extended to him were not taken lightly. This doxology is sincere, every word ringing with gratefulness toward the Christ who died and rose again that Paul might live forever in heaven. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!”



"Fight the Good Fight"

There are many temptations for any saint who tries to keep his focus on Christ. Even for someone like Timothy, protégé of the apostle Paul, the pressures from the forces of darkness would be intense. Hence, the apostle has an exhortation (a command, even) for the younger man and co-laborer in the gospel. But before the exhortation is issued, Paul reminds Timothy of some important history in the evangelist’s life, and uses that history as a basis for his exordium.

The Lord is using the church — His saints — to wage war against the forces of darkness. The battle for each soul is raging, as the new covenant writings consistently point out. Timothy is encouraged to “fight the good fight,” not only maintaining his faith for his own soul, but having the character and preaching/teaching power to continue to reach the lost and work with the brethren.

It is a “fight”; it is absolutely brutal spiritual warfare. In the physical realm, troops are recruited, armaments amassed, and armies take the field under swirling banners with navies standing offshore; then the opposing forces proceed to cut each other to pieces. It is comparatively easy to process just how brutal warfare is in the physical realm, both for those who have experienced it firsthand, and for those who have to some degree processed that warfare through actual photographs or verbal pictures. But God wants His children of faith to use the physical as a basis to process the spiritual, and draw the conclusion about the horrific brutality of that war for men’s eternal souls. This war is the one worth engaging in. Timothy, and all moderns, “fight the good fight!”!!



"Fight the Good Fight"

There are many temptations for any saint who tries to keep his focus on Christ. Even for someone like Timothy, protégé of the apostle Paul, the pressures from the forces of darkness would be intense. Hence, the apostle has an exhortation (a command, even) for the younger man and co-laborer in the gospel. But before the exhortation is issued, Paul reminds Timothy of some important history in the evangelist’s life, and uses that history as a basis for his exordium.

The Lord is using the church — His saints — to wage war against the forces of darkness. The battle for each soul is raging, as the new covenant writings consistently point out. Timothy is encouraged to “fight the good fight,” not only maintaining his faith for his own soul, but having the character and preaching/teaching power to continue to reach the lost and work with the brethren.

It is a “fight”; it is absolutely brutal spiritual warfare. In the physical realm, troops are recruited, armaments amassed, and armies take the field under swirling banners with navies standing offshore; then the opposing forces proceed to cut each other to pieces. It is comparatively easy to process just how brutal warfare is in the physical realm, both for those who have experienced it firsthand, and for those who have to some degree processed that warfare through actual photographs or verbal pictures. But God wants His children of faith to use the physical as a basis to process the spiritual, and draw the conclusion about the horrific brutality of that war for men’s eternal souls. This war is the one worth engaging in. Timothy, and all moderns, “fight the good fight!”!!



"Keeping Faith and a Good Conscience"

It’s a good fight, indeed, in which the saints are enlisted. What greater cause could there be than one wherein souls are turned from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God? What greater battlefield could there be, where the spiritual swords of the saints clash with opposing demonically driven forces? What greater purpose could there be than one in which people’s future is changed from one of eternal darkness and pain to one of eternal light and pleasure? It is a good fight, and worthy of each saint’s total participation, and fulfilling to the greatest degree!

But it is a fight! It demands full time concentration on the part of the saint just like any physical battle. “Our wrestling is not against blood and flesh,” states the apostle in his letter to the Ephesians, “but against principalities” and all the world forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). Wrestle is a great description because in a wrestling match the combatants are extremely intensely engaged for the full round, and if either lets up or loses concentration for even a moment, he is pinned. The saint, then, is engaged in spiritual warfare with an opponent who does not give up or let down; hence the Christian must continually recognize that he is involved in a spiritual fight from which there is no release until God calls him home!

This is indeed life or death combat in the spiritual realm. It was for Timothy, and it is for us. The key ingredients in this fight are maintaining faith and a good conscience. Those are not the “properties” which a person would normally think of in terms or protecting territory in a fight. But such it is in the spiritual realm, and this instruction to Timothy should guide modern saints in the raging battles to come. GO, FIGHT, WIN!!



Call to Prayer

“Christ Jesus,” said Paul, “came into the world to save sinners.” Jesus Himself, during His years on the surface of earth, engaged in tremendous spiritual warfare with the prince of darkness in carrying out His mission, and was personally tempted by “the big bad one.” Even as the hour of His crucifixion was approaching, as Jesus was finishing inaugurating the Lord’s Supper, He stated to the apostles, “the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (John 14:30). Judas Iscariot, however, had succumbed to pressure, and the scripture states that when he ate the morsel that Jesus gave him, “Satan then entered into him” (John 13:27). These examples show that the battle for the soul is fierce, and Jesus deserves maximum praise for winning that battle. That battle is also that to which Paul called Timothy in exhorting him to “fight the good fight.”

These prayers are necessary, as Paul restates in his point about the purpose of spiritual warfare. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,” he notes, “who desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). Timothy, and all who are likewise addressed and challenged in this epistle, remain open to the possibility that anyone can be saved. Hence comes the exordium from Jesus Himself, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Each saint is reminded that at one point he too was an enemy of God: “For if while we were enemies,” Paul reminded the Romans, “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). Children of faith are greatly encouraged to take on the character of their Father in loving their enemies and praying for those who persecute them, “in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 5:45). Let entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men!



The Knowledge of the Truth

The Law, although it was spiritual, did not produce a spiritual people. It took the coming of Christ in the flesh, and the gospel message emanating from that event, to begin to reach the calloused hearts of men, and move them to desiring spiritual and important truths. It is in the gospel that the love of God for each member of the lost race of man is expressed in the death of Christ on the cross. As Jesus put it, referring to His upcoming crucifixion, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Hence comes the exhortation to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Once the individual is enrolled in the school of Christ, and is immersed per Acts 2:38, then the next step kicks in: “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Naturally, as the spiritually awakening descendant of Adam recognizes his dreadful condition as a sinner before the justice of the Almighty God, his major concern is to be reconciled to God through his obedience to the gospel of Christ. Once he has peace with God, then he can continue his education in the all-important spiritual realm, revealed only through the scriptures. The apostle Paul expresses the concept in these terms, building off the base that saints should pray for all men: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). First the salvation, then the rest of the truth!

God truly desires all men to be saved, and He truly desires that His disciples come to a knowledge of the truth. Understanding the Father’s desire for each of His spiritual children enables us to put the process of continued discipleship in the right context and to spur the heart’s desire for more than just the basics. God is in the process of producing a truly spiritual people who have their minds set on the Spirit rather than the flesh. Time, tribulation, and torture have ways of sorting out who those people are.



One God, and One Mediator

The written revelation makes it clear, from even the earliest scrolls, that there is but one God. “Hear, O Israel!,” cried the prophet Moses, “The Lord is our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). All other “gods” or idols are figments of men’s imaginations, stirred up by demonic forces. “We [as Christians] know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world,” posited Paul, “and that there is no God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4). “I say,” he fervently pointed out, “that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20). Hence God’s long war against idolatry is really God’s long war against the Satanic/demonic forces working in the minds of men. God had to work long and hard to drive idolatry out of Israel; thus the brethren are warned, “Therefore, my beloved, flee idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).

The desire of God “for all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” is indeed intense, and the willingness of Jesus to carry out His part is more than incomprehensible. God is indeed “a righteous God and a Savior.” He rightly and justly condemns to an eternity in the lake of fire those who reject His love, His sacrifice, and His offering on their behalf. “Every knee will bow, and every tongue will swear allegiance” (Isaiah 45:23). “In the Lord all the offspring of [true] Israel will be justified, and will glory” (Isaiah 45:25). The ransom price was paid in full!



The Testimony

If someone has an apartment for rent, and no one knows about it, the apartment will remain vacant. If God has a tremendous plan for the redemption of all mankind, but no one ever knows about it, redemption’s rolls will remain empty. Thus, with the plan of redemption, God also had to have a plan for the distribution of the message. What little dissemination of the knowledge of the God of Israel was accomplished through the Jews and their dispersion through the Gentile lands. But there was no aggressive attempt on the part of the Jews to spread that information; in fact, the Jews were told to keep separate from the Gentile peoples of the world so that they were not destroyed by their association with pagan religions. But with the coming of the new covenant, the message of the gospel is to be taken to the world, as Jesus commanded the apostles following His resurrection: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and been immersed shall be saved…” (Mark 16:15,16).

Paul himself came into the whole mix at the proper time. He explained to the Galatians that he had been set apart, “from my mother’s womb” to be an apostle to the Gentiles, and at the right time God “called me through His grace…that I might preach Him [Jesus] among the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15,16). “For this,” the apostle reaffirmed to Timothy, “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7).



Instructions for Christian Men

Paul did point out to Timothy that he had been called as an apostle. Speaking to the point of his participation in the gospel as a preacher, a teacher, and an apostle, when he spoke of his apostleship he emphasized, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying.” As an apostle, Paul is about to give Timothy some in-structions to pass along to Christian men and women in the congregation in Ephesus (and ultimately to all congregations in Christ), and he wants Timothy and the listeners to know that these are coming with apostolic backing. It is similar to the specific statement that he made to the church at Corinth in his second epistle, where he spoke of “the authority [exousia] which the Lord gave me, for building up, and not for tearing down” (2 Corinthians 13:10). Functioning in “faith and truth,” the apostle stated, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Timothy 2:8).

Paul established his authority as an apostle of Christ, tested and trusted by the Lord Himself. Timothy, then is to pass the apostle’s instructions on to the congregation in Ephesus with the full force of Christ’s command and the apostle’s exhortation. “Therefore,” began the injunction, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or dissension.” We got it, Paul, we got it!



Some Instructions for Christian Women

Saints need guidance as to how to conduct themselves in the church of the living God. Just as men need direction, so do the Christian women. These directives come underneath the heading of these words: God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Men in the church are therefore to pray to this end, live holy lives, and not engage in wrath or dissension; these are absolutely necessary for the church to carry out its role in seeking and saving the lost. The instruction for Christian women dovetails with the instruction to the men, and is for the same purpose.

The exhortation from the Holy Spirit is for saintly and godly women to use good judgment in their dress and overall adornment. Godly character is of paramount importance, and that is the “attractiveness” that the Father desires in His girls. Part of that character is exhibited in modest and discreet dress, coupled with intelligent hair styles and jewelry. Christian women are to be lights in the world and salt of the earth; they can’t wear the costumes of the ancient world or not-so-ancient world and do that. But they can be tasteful without being trendy, they can be effective without being “edgy.” They can focus on showing the character of Christ to the people around them without exposing an undue amount of skin. They can be those “lights” without the flash of precious metal. They can be clothed with Christ without having to use earth’s “costly garments.” In that fashion, the mission of seeking and saving the lost can be most effectively accomplished as saintly ladies intermingle in their societies, without the distractions of indiscretion getting in the way!



More Instructions for Christian Women

Usually, more than half the population in a congregation are female. Women tend to live longer than men, and there are often “Lydia’s” who are very interested in the word of God. Those coming into Christ from the world often need instruction on how to conduct themselves in their new life; having been made disciples, having been immersed, they need to continue to be taught how to observe all that Jesus has commanded. Some of that education involves a new way of dress and a new way of acting in the public or congregational arena. Instead of being “attention-getters” in their clothing, hairstyle, or exhibition of jewelry, they are to be modest and use discretion.

The forces of darkness have long been at work in “overthrowing the existing social order.” Because Western Civilization was, in a broad sense, Bible-based, and its foundational philosophy provided the basis for freedom in teaching and practicing the scriptures, from the perspective of those who are promoting “the new world order” that foundation must be destroyed. A key part of that overthrow is the fundamental God-ordained relationship between men and women, and their respective roles. “For it was Adam who was first created,” Paul reminds Timothy, “and then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13). While the supposed goal of “leftists” in the modern world is “empowering woman,” the actual purpose is to devalue men. When men are devalued, women also are actually devalued as well, families are thrown into chaos, and the “existing social order” is destroyed. It is therefore understandable that one of the major Communist holidays is International Women’s Day on March 8. Congregations should not allow themselves to be pulled into the modern public agenda, but simply follow scripture and explain its tenets to those being converted to Christ.



The Role of Men and Women

“But from the beginning of Creation,” said the Lord Jesus Himself, quoting from Genesis, “God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). Only in a world gone crazy would a person be able to be persuaded that someone could “choose a gender” or be able to tell other people by what pronoun he (or she, for clarity in today’s world) wished to be addressed. A boy is born a male, and a girl is born a female, and nothing earthly is going to be able to change much more than some surface body chemistry or some changes by surgery. The way the bones are shaped and the way the brain is “wired” cannot be changed; God made mankind “male and female.” Since God made them “male and female” from the beginning, there are also some built-in roles; females are destined to be mothers and homemakers, and males are destined to be fathers and bread-winners. The scripture has much to say about how both husbands and wives are to conduct themselves, but the roles are spelled out. In a society being increasingly driven by a “woke agenda,” fomented by forces that would bring about “a great reset” and “a new world order,” the teaching of the scripture is castigated and ultimately censored. God and His word, however, are unchanging!

Christian men are to be godly, lifting up “holy hands,” not engaged in wrath or dissension. Christian women are to exhibit an intelligent (using discretion in dress and conduct) demeanor and lifestyle, giving the appropriate honor to the Christian men with whom they associate. They are to be examples of what a faithful woman should be, serving and honoring God and His word. They are to be depositories of scripturally defined love in the family and in the church of God. These daughters of God are likewise to be holy (in sanctity) in all their behavior. And the word also stresses that they are to be examples of self-restraint, using discretion or good judgment in their disciplined character and lifestyle.



Introduction to Overseers

The church has been designed by God. It was designed before the foundation of the world and existed in God’s mind so that its substance could cast the shadow backward in earth’s time to the Old Testament foreshadow. The old covenant tabernacle and its appurtenances were called “the copies of the things in the heavens” (Hebrews 9:23). The substance (“the things in the heavens”) must be in existence in order for a copy to be made. As the tabernacle and the temple of Solomon were clearly designed by God, it is also therefore clear that the church of God was designed by God.

The building of the tabernacle was overseen by Moses. “Moses,” said Hebrews’ author, “was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:5). This warning came in the words of a strict command, as the writer of Hebrews quotes from the Old Testament narrative: “ ‘See,’ He says, ‘that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.‘ ” The tabernacle was built by Moses; the church is to be built by Christ, as He commented to Peter, “Upon this rock [the bedrock confession that Jesus is the Christ] I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). As Moses was commanded to build according to the pattern shown him, even more so would Christ build according to the pattern given Him by the Father. “Christ is faithful as a Son over His house, whose house we are” (Hebrews 3:6).

Jesus, following His crucifixion and resurrection, ascended to the power position at the right hand of the Majesty on high. At the same time, He was positioned spiritually as the chief cornerstone in the true temple of God. The church, then, is built “upon the foundation of the apostles and [new covenant] prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). The apostles and prophets built according to “all that Jesus commanded” (Matthew 28:20). The result is a complete set of instructions in the writings of the New Testament for how the church of Jesus Christ is to continue to be built. If Moses was warned with regard to the copy of the church, how much more are moderns warned to build according to the instructions given them in the completed word of God!

The church of the Lord is not a physical building, but it consists of individual spiritual building blocks or stones called Christians. “You also,” was the apostle Peter’s instruction, “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). These “living stones,” however, are not to float aimlessly about on the surface of planet earth; they are to be organized into congregations that regularly assemble. These local assemblies are to be organized according to the instructions given in the New Testament writings. When Paul wrote to the congregation at Corinth, he reminded them that “as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it” (1 Corinthians 3:10). He further adds, “If any man destroys the temple of God [the local congregation in this context], God will destroy him” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

The apostle Paul did not organize one congregation one way and have a different plan of organization for another local church. He mentioned to the church in Corinth that he was sending Timothy to straighten out a few things that had gone awry. “He will remind you,” Paul assured them, “of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:17). Not only did Paul establish congregations with the same practices and doctrines throughout the first century world, but the other apostles did the same. When the apostle Paul met the apostles Peter and John in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15, he found that they were laying the same foundations, and they “gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship” (Galatians 2:9).

When Paul therefore gives Timothy instructions on overseers, these are the same instructions given to all the congregations by all the apostles. And they are the same instructions given to evangelists and congregations today!!



Another "Trustworthy Statement"

When Paul met with the elders of the congregation of Ephesus in Miletus in what is now southwestern Turkey, this was part of the conversation: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock,” he exhorted, “among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). As the apostle Paul introduces the topic of overseers in his first letter to Timothy, it is worth recalling that elder (older man), bishop (overseer), and pastor (shepherd) are different descriptions of the same office in the local congregation. These are the men who, in conjunction with evangelists (preachers), guide the local congregation. Because overseers are appointed by evangelists, the instructions to Timothy are relevant today in the process of selecting elders.

The office of overseer is critical in the stability of a congregation over several generations. That office is worthy of a young man’s aspirations, and worthy of his commitment to all the training and skill-development necessary for him to be an effective overseer in the future. And he must also remember that it is commitment to work.



Some Qualities of a Bishop

The apostle Paul is taking some time to list some of the qualities that man must possess in order to be appointed an elder (or bishop). The purpose of listing these qualities is to form a set of guidelines to illustrate the character of the man rather than a mere checklist of externals. These are brought forth against the backdrop of a man who aspires to do the work of a bishop; the man must first be interested in serving the Lord, in keeping the mission of the church as seeking and saving the lost, and he must truly love the eternities of the sheep for which he will be their shepherd.

All the above are “people-oriented” terms. They illustrate the persona of one who has good people skills, one who has overall good judgment in his interaction with fellow men and fellow saints, and one whose character cannot be legitimately attacked. He does not have to thrust himself forward as a leader; his leadership qualities shine through and brethren automatically look to him for direction and wisdom. The true elder can engage socially with older saints, he can intersect well with younger brethren and couples, and he can have positive interchanges with children as well. He is drawing people in rather than pushing them away. The same qualities we see exhibited in Christ in the sacred writings!



More Qualities of a Bishop

The office of overseer or bishop requires that the office-holder be a “people person.” Disciplined in thought, speech, and action, this man exhibits leadership in his bearing and his conduct. He uses good judgment in his interaction with the saints, there are no legitimate complaints against him, and his home is a welcoming environment for brethren locally or in transit. But that is not all.

The bishop must truly be interested in the work, and therefore interested in the people. He will clearly develop the personal and communication skills necessary for him to provide the proper leadership for the local congregation. He will become skilled in teaching and preaching the word of God, and knowledgeable in exhorting in sound doctrine and refuting falsehoods. And he will be personally disciplined financially, and a contributor rather than a drone.



And Still More

Overseers, or bishops [always a plurality], intelligently and spiritually guide and govern the local congregation. These are the men who provide, by God’s design, the flywheel of momentum in evangelism and sound doctrine from one generation to the next. “Be on your guard for yourselves and all the flock,” the apostle Paul warned the elders of Ephesus. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock, and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert…” (Acts 20:28-31). These men keep the congregation trained in sound doctrine, and they have the solid character base which enables them to speak with doctrinal authority. Hence, they must be good family men, and Paul has some things to say about that.

All of these qualities listed in 1 Timothy and Titus paint a picture of a man who has done a good job with his family, is known to be of high reputation within and without the church, and can manage people and operations. When the early church moved away from evangelists’ requiring these qualifications for a man’s being a bishop, then the destruction of the primitive church occurred, and the Catholic perversion began developing.



Deacons

The word deacon means “servant.” It is a diakonos type of servant rather than a doulos type of servant. The first is like one who waits on tables at a restaurant, the second is a slave or a bond-servant, a slave by choice. Diakonos is a broad word, used in all kinds of service-types of contexts in New Testament writings; it primarily describes the relationship of the “server” to the work he is doing as contrasted to doulos, which more generally describes the relationship of the one doing the work to his master. But there is what might be called a “special servant” who works in the congregational setting, which the translators generally render “deacon,” the Anglicization of diakonos. For example, when the apostle Paul greeted the congregation in Philippi, he spoke of “all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1). Deacons, along with the elders, are signaled as those holding a special office in the midst of the brethren.

What do deacons do? In a large congregation such as in the cases of many new testament congregations (Jerusalem: 3000 immersed on Pentecost, then 5000 men, then “multitudes”), there would be many major projects the elders and evangelists would not be able to supervise properly. Deacons would be those valuable, trustworthy men who could get any project done or situation handled that the other leadership couldn’t get to. “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:13). These are spiritual rewards in Christ worth a dedicated saint’s time and life!



Conduct in the House of God

“Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant,” exposited Hebrews’ writer, “but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house” (Hebrews 3:5,6). This must be an awesome “house,” wherein Moses is merely a servant, but Christ, as the first-born Son, is the Head of this house! The writer of Hebrews adds, “whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” What is termed “the church” is thus this “house.” While the church is often pictured as an “assembly,” or “the temple of God,” or “the kingdom,” one of the most endearing descriptions is that it is God’s house!

A capsulation of George Orwell’s books Animal Farm and 1984 has been well stated: “In time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Modern saints live in that time of “universal deceit” where outrageous lies are being presented as truth by the government, by the educational establishment, and by the media. The only individuals who will be able “to stand in the evil day” for the whole and relevant truth will be those who are strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16). The only institution that will stand as “the pillar and support of truth” is the church of the living God. So...church...stand!!



The Mystery of Godliness

There are a number of “mysteries” in the new covenant writings, one of which is “the mystery,” another name for the indwelling Holy Spirit. Mystery contains the concept of something that was once hidden but now revealed. It was hidden in the Old Testament that the Gentiles would eventually be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but it was couched in language which takes the New Testament revelation to unravel “the mystery.” There is also the “mystery of lawlessness” which was already at work when Paul wrote the second epistle to the Thessalonians, which was the grasp for power wherein one man took the title “Bishop” over the elders. There is also the “mystery” about our receiving our resurrection bodies at Christ’s coming. But here Paul speaks of “the mystery of godliness” (1 Timothy 3:16).

The “mystery of godliness,” then, focuses on Jesus Christ, as it should. When a person “turns to the Lord” in immersion (compare Acts 2:38 and Acts 3:19), what the apostle Paul calls “the body of sin” or “the body of flesh” is removed in a spiritual crucifixion or spiritual circumcision (Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:11). This removal of what he also calls “the veil” results in the inner man being able, through the scripture, to behold the glory of God and to be transformed into the image of that same glory by the power of the indwelling Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:14-18). This is the “mystery of godliness.” And what a great mystery!!



Three Points in the “Mystery of Godliness”

“The church,” averred the apostle Paul “is the pillar and support of the truth.” While truth is important in the courtroom and in news reporting, it is especially important in regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The human race’s eternities are generally not directly impacted by someone’s lying under oath or by false reporting. But twisting of the gospel of Christ does. Hence, the church is the pillar and support of that truth, expounding it and pointing out the errors of its enemies. The “common confession” of the saints therefore focuses on Jesus Christ, as well as salvation and transformation through Him. The “great mystery of godliness” is fully centered upon the complete revelation of Jesus Christ as recorded in the sacred writings.

The linchpin of God’s revelation is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, appearing with the same body He had in His death on the cross with nail marks on His hands [wrist area] and the spear wound in His side. For that to happen, He had to “be revealed in the flesh.” Then He was raised from the dead in order for God’s eternal plan to move forward, and thus He “was vindicated in the Spirit.” Those first involved in His resurrection were the angels. Thus, as Paul expounds upon this mystery of godliness, his next point is that the resurrected Christ was “beheld by angels.”



More “Mystery of Godliness”

Jesus positively exhorted His disciples, in the “Sermon on the Mount,” to “be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45). It is the picture which consistently runs through the entire set of new covenant writings that God’s children of faith are to imitate their spiritual Dad’s character. For example, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” is part of this exhortation, as well as “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Matthew 5:44; Galatians 5:22,23). This “godliness” springs from the revelation of God’s character through Jesus Christ, “He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations [Gentiles], believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Through the “bullet-pointed” summary of the gospel of Christ enumerated by the apostle Paul, the “mystery” of what had been concealed is brought into the open by the revelation given to the apostles and new covenant prophets. This information, when believed and obeyed, will result in the initial transformation of the inner man and the resultant stepwise transformation of the outer man. “Great,” indeed, “is the mystery of godliness”!!



The Coming "Apostasy"

How wonderful it would have been to have been an apostle of Jesus Christ! It would have been awesome to have been a witness to the things Jesus did and said during the years of His earthly sojourn. It would have been so exciting to have the special revelation from the Holy Spirit as He made clear what happened with Jesus in glory, how He was exalted to the Father’s “right hand as a Prince and a Savior” (Acts 5:31). But what also would have been intensely interesting and all-consuming for the apostles would have been for them to see the church of the living God come into existence, and for them to shepherd it through its early years. Many of the early spiritual battles were concerned with the influence of the Judaizers, who attempted to force the new covenant “wine” back into the “wineskin” of the old covenant. Then came the attempts to “turn the grace of God into licentiousness” (Jude 1:4). Working through false teachers, Satan tried to turn the doctrine of the church to “law”; failing that, he tried to turn the church to “lawlessness.” The apostles, particularly the apostle John, lived long enough on earth to see those battles progress. The apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had an idea what the future held, and warned the churches of the first century of what was coming. This included the apostle Paul.

It is a strong and continual warning for all congregations, that the Deceiver works “by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). They may look like “holy men” and position themselves in highly visible “spiritual” situations, but underneath the veneer they are ambitious and wicked men! All generations, beware!



More on Demonic Forces

There are those who claim that Satan and his demons are not currently at work in the world! Such views are generally based on a constricted look at some things in Revelation chapter twenty, and fly in the face of statements such as Jesus made to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road, saying that He was sending Paul to the Jews but especially to the Gentiles. Saul’s mission would be “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). Satan hath no more dominion? No, the prince of darkness has continued to operate “with great wrath” throughout the entire church age, holding everyone who commits sin in his grip, and only those who turn to the Lord (mostly Gentiles) are no longer “the nations deceived.” These, of course, were the same forces at work when the apostle Paul described the development of the Apostasy, speaking of those who were “paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:2). What is the origin of Satan and his demons?

The advice of Peter still stands. “Be on the alert,” stated the apostle. “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Those following the first century church did not stay on the alert, the roaring lion got them, and the result was the apostasy!



Wrong Focus

Only God is the Creator! Satan cannot create anything; what he does is take that which is good and twist it so that it becomes something evil. “By faith,” reiterates Hebrews’ author, about the realm which cannot be seen with the physical eye, “we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Only God can create something out of nothing. Satan twists that which God has created.

From the time, then, that the new covenant was instituted, all foods—if sanctified by prayer and received with thanksgiving—are clean. Any doctrine that would say otherwise, whether coming from Catholic dictates, or views of vegetarianism from Hindus, New Agers, or Seventh Day Adventists, is driven by demonic forces. Furthermore, any promoters of such doctrines are hypocritical liars, and their own consciences are seared as with a branding iron (1 Timothy 4:2).



Nourished on Words

“You foolish ones,” was Jesus’ pointed remark to the Pharisees, “did not He who made the outside [of man] make the inside also?” (Luke 11:40). God created the entire earth as a giant ecosystem designed to support and sustain the outer man. “Everything created by God is good,” the apostle Paul had stated, “and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4:4). That is a tremendous amount of creative genius and technical capability, just to feed the outer man. So what about the inner man?

Paul commends Timothy, commenting that it is the words of the faith and sound doctrine “which you have been following.” He urges his charge to continue on that path, stating “have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women” (1 Timothy 4:7). There is a tendency on the part of some to get carried away by the “wild and wonderful” fables (flat out “fiction”) that some who are skilled “story-spinners” are able to foist on an undiscerning audience. There are those who are adept at weaving together tales that “warm the heart” and “stir the emotions,” particularly directed at the female audience. The warning is absolutely clear for Timothy and moderns: stick with sound doctrine and the words of the faith!”



Godliness

“Discipline” is a major key to living victoriously through life’s trials and to entering the gates of glory. “Discipline,” from a scriptural perspective, not only has to do with the mind’s making the body do what it is supposed to do, but it has the broader context of “training,” or “regular and consistent exercise.” It is a matter of clear observation that no one is going to have “instant discipline”; true discipline is the result of constant and consistent effort and bringing about certain desired habits.

“Discipline yourself,” was the emphasis of the apostle. Discipline is going to come from within, and ultimately cannot be delegated to someone else. The habits of regular prayer, Bible reading, developing positive attitudes, maintaining a strong work ethic, making the most of each opportunity to share Bible truths with the lost, consistent attendance in the assembly… these all are attributes of the godliness the Almighty expects of His children. The idea that such discipline is what holds the promise for eternal life is hugely significant and worthy of contemplation and implementation. “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance” (1 Timothy 4:9).



Prescribe and Teach “Godliness”

Not many things hold “promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Any individual honestly thinking about where to focus his life and set his priorities would certainly conclude that the one thing which holds those promises would be worth his total commitment and devotion. And what is that one thing? Godliness!! It is worth restating Paul’s point: “Bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Then the apostle adds, “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance” (1 Timothy 4:9). Five times in the letters to Timothy and Titus the apostle Paul uses the phrase “it is a trustworthy statement.” Each of those times the phrase is clearly pointing to something of major significance; in this case the apostle is emphasizing the importance of personal godliness.

These are tremendous truths! Timothy is therefore exhorted, “Prescribe and teach these things” (1 Timothy 4:11)



"Show Yourself an Example"

Exemplary character is what puts power behind spoken words. No one particularly listens to what are properly called “light weights” because of their lack of consistency, of talking much but getting nothing done. This is true especially if the speaker is going to be exhorting others in the area of discipline; when people feel a little pressure to do better and be more, their natural tendency is to look for character flaws in the person from whom they feel the pressure. If Timothy, then, is going to be preaching on godliness, following Paul’s instruction of “prescribe and teach these things,” he is going to need to provide leadership himself in these areas in order to secure a hearing and a heeding.

As in all Christian endeavor, but especially in the work of an evangelist, character counts! Because the preaching of the word is so important in the plan of God in saving souls, Satan jumps in and gets his false preachers into the mix. On the surface, they can seem genuine. But if a person were to look intently at the character qualities Paul calls on Timothy to exhibit, the fakes show very quickly that their speech is off the mark, their conduct underneath the surface is sinful, they have no true love for the saints, they don’t have the faith of Christ as their guide, and they definitely do not have pure motives. It is critical, then, for Timothy and for all who would follow in his steps, to “show yourself an example of those who believe.”



Insuring Salvation

Timothy was laboring as an evangelist at the congregation in Ephesus. The formation of this congregation under the efforts of Paul on his third missionary journey is significantly recorded in the book of Acts, and the congregation at Ephesus is one of the seven churches featured in the book of Revelation. Thus Paul (and the Lord) was concerned about Timothy’s work in this congregation, and the apostle has further instruction for his son in the faith, following up on his exhortation that Timothy be “an example of those who believe.”

Saints are greatly impacted by those who do the public teaching and preaching. It is in that context that James comments, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). When Paul wrote to the congregation in Corinth, he emphasized that he had laid the proper foundation for the church, doctrinally and in character exhibition. He then added, “But let each be careful how he builds upon it” (1 Corinthians 3:10). The apostle was justly strident in telling Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” Modern teachers and evangelists should heed these exhortations as well!



Interpersonal Relations

Working with the lost and working amongst the saved involves working with people. Many of the Bible’s examples, true history, and teachings have to do with making saints more effective in working through these “people issues.” Although the brethren have been called out of this world, they often are in states of growth toward putting on the full character of Christ, and thus all the instruction on how to handle these interpersonal relations has great meaning and importance. Timothy is going to get some of these instructions from the aged Paul, Timothy’s father in the faith.

When a rebuke is necessary, it is one of the more difficult situations with which a person in charge has to deal. In his second epistle, Paul told Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). The instructions for dealing with older men, younger men, older women, and younger women would remind Timothy about what would be effective, rather than his just checking a box on the “to do list.”



Windows Indeed

God has always been concerned about widows and their care. In Moses’ going over the Law for the generation that had come through the wilderness, he emphasized that they were not to “take a widow’s garment in pledge” (Deuteronomy 24:17). Widows are often in difficult straits financially, with the husband gone and with age and increasing infirmity coming upon those poor ladies. Even James commented in new covenant writings that pure and undefiled religion is “to visit orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). One of the first problems the church faced while it was still primarily located in Jerusalem was in caring for the widows. Those Jewish ladies with Greek surnames were being neglected while those with Hebrew last names were receiving assistance. This happened because the synagogues took care of their widows, but when these ladies became “disciples of Christ,” then they were booted from the synagogue and now were dependent upon the church’s care. Thus the subtle prejudice against the widows who were “Hellenistic” had to be handled.

These instructions for Timothy concerning “widows indeed” are somewhat restrictive, and designedly so. God doesn’t want free-loaders coming in and trying to live off the church. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he had denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Proper stewardship of finances and family is definitely a spiritual issue!



More on Widows

God said to put a widow on the church support list “only if she is not less than sixty years old.” People and saints then, baring accident or untimely disease, lived about the same length of time as people do now. “As for the days of our life,” wrote Moses, describing the experience of most of the human race, “they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years” (Psalm 90:10). So a widow of sixty would be worthy of support; a younger widow would not be. But this older widow had to be a dedicated and disciplined saint. If she, for example, after the loss of her husband, allowed herself to get disoriented and plunge headlong into the world, she would certainly lose her standing with God and her salvation. “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure,” explains the apostle, “is dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6). The loss of companionship and intimacy is real, but the widow cannot allow herself to go down the road of “wanton pleasure.”

Both older and younger widows face challenges peculiar to widowhood. That period following the death of a spouse can be very disorienting, with relational and financial challenges. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul has given advice for such widows, and has made sure that it has been recorded for all generations to follow.



Financial Considerations

It is not random that mankind puts more value on gold than on silver. It is not accidental that national economies develop and there are prices on goods and services. It is what God put into the programming of man, and it is one of the means by which He teaches the value of one day’s labor. Hence it is that the Almighty, through the scriptures, puts a significant emphasis on the stewardship of financial resources because it is of major spiritual importance. Jesus Himself said, “If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?” (Luke 16:11). In the teaching regarding the care of widows and “widows indeed,” the instruction of necessity turns to financial matters.

Money is a place where the physical realm and the spiritual realm come into contact in a very clear way. Money is measurable, and in some sense tangible, so there is no way to obscure the accountability of this spiritual entity. How financial resources are handled is one clear indicator of the true spirituality of one making a claim to godliness. Because “unrighteous mammon” is such a clear indicator, saints who are defensive about their finances often show anger or resentment to someone who is pointing out their need for improvement, possibly verbally attacking the one who is trying to help them in this major spiritual issue. In all the arenas in which Paul has been instructing Timothy, but especially in regard to widow care and family finances, he has this exhortation, “Prescribe and teach these things as well, so that they may be above reproach” (1 Timothy 5:7). The message to Timothy is straightforward: preach and teach these things, regardless of whether any of the saints like it or not!



Interactions with Elders

The local church needs instruction. The apostle has been giving Timothy some directives in areas where the congregation at Ephesus and others need that instruction. Furthermore, Lord made sure those were recorded in the eternal record, that all saints may look at that instruction and desire to implement the principles in their own lives. Near the core of those inculcations are the interrelationship between elders, evangelists, and the congregation. For a congregation to function as the Lord intended, those relationships need to be in the process of being put in order in accordance with Paul’s divinely inspired directives.

Timothy is getting this instruction from Paul, and so is the congregation. This is necessary because if Timothy needs to take action against an elder, the congregation is going to have to back that action. “Those [elders] who continue to sin,” the apostle charges the evangelist, “rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest may be fearful of sinning” (1 Timothy 5:20). If the local church is working against the evangelist in this case, the rebuking action is not going to be effective. But Timothy has to be objective. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in the spirit of partiality” (1 Timothy 5:21). The spiritual warfare is so intense, and the challenge before the church is so large, that there is no room for petty games. Furthermore, this is all carried out in the clear sight of the Father, the Son, and the good angels! All of those should guarantee that everything done in regard to a sinning elder is done in the right spirit and for the future of each saint in God’s kingdom.



"Random" Points

Internal workings of the congregation are, for good reason, a major focus of the new covenant writings. The local church is the key to the forward movement of the gospel, and the gospel distribution is therefore tied to the proper functioning of each congregation. Hence the instructions. Widows indeed are to be cared for. Elders who are working hard at preaching and teaching are to be respected and paid. An elder whose sin is serious enough that it requires public rebuking is to be straightened out “in the presence of all” by an evangelist. Evangelists or preachers must be unbiased in their functioning, without partiality. What next, Paul?

But most of the shepherds working for the Lord will be engaging in solid work for his glory; to fit the picture that Paul and Peter painted of good shepherds, their character would be such that they would be upright, loving the sheep entrusted to their care, and wanting to please Christ openly and privately. “Likewise also,” says Paul, playing off the statement that the sins of some men are out in the open, “deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed” (1 Timothy 5:25). The exordium to all elders, indeed to all saints, stands: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).



Slaves and Masters

In New Testament times, slavery was quite common. Writings of Roman historians indicate that perhaps as much as one-third of the population were slaves, and that the church had a higher percentage of slaves than that. God’s instructions for slaves and masters thus shows up in the sacred writings, as well as direct references to slaves themselves. Philemon, for example, was a Christian slaveholder, and Onesimus was his runaway slave. Tertius (which means “Number 3”) was an educated slave referenced in the scriptures, who wrote down the book of Romans at Paul’s dictation (Romans 16:22). Spiritually, slaves and masters had equal standing before the Lord, while in the flesh they had separate roles to carry out. In Christ, there is neither slave nor free (Galatians 3:28).

It follows that the slave would, for the sake of God’s holy and righteous name, conduct himself in exemplary fashion toward his earthly master. “And let those [slaves] who have believers as masters,” encourages the apostle Paul, “not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved” (1 Timothy 6:2). Because the slave is a saint and the master is a saint, the slave might have a tendency to pull the “brothers in Christ” card and not conduct himself in a respectful fashion. The Holy Spirit says to reverse that flow, and serve with all due respect! In the long-term, everyone benefits, and the name of God is further glorified. Clearly, there is no room for selfishness here, or for having feelings of resentment because of the slave condition. The masters are “beloved.”

And to Timothy, in this slave/master culture: “Teach and preach these principles.”



Sound Words

There are “sound” words, and there are “shaky” words. “Sound” words and “sound” promises can be counted upon; “shaky” words and “shaky” promises are worthless and the purveyor of such is not to be trusted. Hence it is that the scripture brings forth “sound” doctrine and warns strongly and repeatedly against false doctrine.

Sound doctrine has a foundation that is solid and stands all the challenges that can be thrown at it. Hence Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism, and Calvinism (and any other false religion) can all be shown to be manufactured, fabrics of someone’s imagination. Sound doctrine has its basis in the established truthfulness of the Bible, and can be shown to be true objectively. It is worth reiterating: “But know this first of all,” stated the apostle Peter, “that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20,21).

Words, by God’s design of language, have meaning. Ultimately, God’s goal has been to educate spiritual men to the point where He can use words “taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Corinthians 2:13). One of the devil’s goals, working through complicit human beings, is to confuse the language, to move people away from “sound words,” and shade, spin, and twist the meanings so that endless controversy can occur. And in the midst of that controversy, those with “morbid” interests will continue unabated and unchallenged in their sins.



Constant Friction

The human race always has been a selfish, violent, bloody race. The exhibition of the man of flesh was on full display when Cain refused to master the sin crouching at his door, and spilled Abel’s blood upon the ground. Whether it is through physical or verbal abuse, the rebellious man or woman is characteristic of the world gone astray. The problem is that when this rebellious “mere man” becomes a Christian, sometimes those destructive elements in his character do not go away soon, or possibly not at all if there is no continuing repentance. Their throat is still “an open grave,” their tongues keep deceiving, the poison of asps is still under their lips, destruction and misery are still their paths (Romans 3:13-16). This rebelliousness will cause a person to advocate false doctrine because the doctrine of Christ brings the individual to conform to godliness. Such a conceited, non-understanding person is always interested in veering off the course of important teachings from the word of God, and “has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words.”

True godliness, however, is a blessing for the godly, and enables the godly to be a blessing to others. “But godliness actually is a means of great gain,” affirms the apostle, “especially when accompanied by contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6). Those who are engaged in constant friction are never happy, and often are trying to hurt someone else as an outgrowth of their own frustrations. But those who live godly lives, as defined by the scriptures, really do experience great gain and satisfaction in knowing that their labors contribute are laying up treasure for themselves in heaven, and that God is glorified. When all this is “accompanied by contentment” in the life of one who is living by precious faith, that individual is blessed and happy!



Some Poignant Thoughts

“The devil,” pointed out the apostle Peter, “prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). This is a sober warning, and there are others similar to it throughout the new covenant writings. These should bring the saint to an awareness of the importance of each decision and each action he is taking and cause him to consider his personal motive in such decisions and actions. Is envy a driving force? How about evil suspicions? What about the possibility that someone supposes “that godliness is a means of gain”? There are those who put on a veneer of godliness and use that to lure unsuspecting victims into their lairs of deceit and fraud.

The saint would do well periodically to contemplate the blessing of the discipline which produces godliness. Bringing the mind around so that it puts the same value on things as God does, as revealed in the scripture, has tremendous benefits. The apostle Paul in the jail cell could be godly and content; the nearby Emperor was ungodly, corrupt, and committed suicide.



The Love of Money

Money itself is not bad. It is just neutral sacks of gold hidden in a vault, or (in terms of use in modern times) computer entries in the “cloud.” But because of what money can do, it is often tied to temptation, Jesus Himself calling it “mammon” and “mammon of unrighteousness” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:9). (Mammon gets its name from a Syrian god of riches; hence you can’t serve God and mammon.) Money is necessary and useful, but it can easily become the master rather than the servant. The word of God, therefore, is laced with warnings concerning money, and much instruction and illustration about its proper use. Even the writer of Hebrews, in encouraging the Hebrews to be faithful through the upcoming Roman destruction of Jerusalem, has to warn about the downward pull of mammon. Christians, facing privation and displacement might turn to trust in money, even compromising their faith to get some lucre, rather than continuing to trust in God. “Let your character be free from the love of money,” says the writer, “being content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). The positive thrust of the comment, then, was to focus on the God of promise who said that He would never forsake the saint, and that He would help the saint through even the most extreme of difficulties.

The devil preys on people’s unholy desire for “more and more and more.” Once an individual, a saint even, starts down one of those appealing rabbit holes, it is difficult to get out, and the destruction in the physical realm is tremendous, to say nothing of the destruction in the spiritual realm. It is worth repeating: “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have!” (Hebrews 13:5).



Destruction Associated with Money

Since the Fall of man as recorded in Genesis three, this has been an evil world! The apostle Paul, for example, spoke of how God delivered us “from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). Just how evil it is, man himself is not able to process completely or objectively. It requires the perspective from God Himself for saints progressively to understand the spiritual malaise that has fallen upon the race and the various layers of evil that have enveloped the descendants of Adam. At the core of all this evil is a certain selfishness of which the Tempter takes advantage, a driving desire to “want what I want, and I want it no matter what destruction I have to cause to get it.” James states it this way: “Each one is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14,15). So where does money come in? Money, as the instrument of purchase, becomes a primary means by which selfish desire is implemented. Hence, as the apostle Paul noted, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). The rush to the gold camp or the trample of crowds cramming to get in “on the ground floor” are pictures of those desires, and provide a good glimpse into the attendant destruction which befalls most who are so driven.

The positive thrust of this section of Paul’s epistle is contentment. “Godliness,” he had noted, “is actually a means of great gain, especially when accompanied by contentment.” The apostle further emphasized, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” It is that lack of being content with what God has given that often drives saints into those snares and temptations, thinking that more money will buy the things that result in contentment. The resultant wandering “away from the faith” will end up in an eternal fire and eternal discontentment! Be content with what you have!!



Proper and Positive Pursuit

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,” said God to the new generation of Israelites, before they crossed the Jordan, “that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life, that you may live...” (Deuteronomy 30:19). The physical blessings promised to Israel, and the physical curses, were recorded for the benefit of modern saints, “those upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). The physical was recorded so that Christians might understand that there are spiritual blessings for those who follow Jesus, and a curse upon those who lose their focus on Christ, who become discontent, and who therefore get pulled into all kinds of destructive allurements, and pierce “themselves with many a pang” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The need clearly is to flee from the love of money and related issues. In the warfare, righteousness, godliness, faith, gentleness, and love are to be pursued. But because it is a fight, and weariness can strike the Christian soldier, the instruction is particularly noteworthy: pursue perseverance. And the exhortation is for Timothy and all brethren, to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called”!



The Good Confession

“Fightings within, fears without” beset the Christian in his walk of faith. He is to flee the snares connected with discontentment and the love of money, and to pursue righteousness, faith, love, gentleness, godliness, and perseverance. Fighting on, he is take hold of that which is life indeed. Taking the young evangelist back to the time of his conversion, and emphasizing the confession which Timothy made in order for him to be immersed into Christ, were designed to bolster the ability of Timothy to fight that good fight of faith. A deeper look into the good confession is thus warranted.

With all that pressure against any public statement about Jesus’ being the Christ, it is easy to see how that affirmation would become a requirement for any person desiring to be a Christian. Anyone not willing to state the confession publicly did not have enough conviction to stand for Christ. Hence, near the close of the apostle John’s gospel account, he noted for later readers that the events concerning Jesus “have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

This, then, is the required good confession. As Paul is helping Timothy to “gin up” his courage, the apostle reminds his son in the faith that “you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). The apostle even reminds Timothy that Jesus Himself courageously “testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate” (1 Timothy 6:13). Timothy had courage at the time of his conversion, and he therefore should have it going forward in his work as an evangelist.



A Weighty Charge

The “call to eternal life” is also the “upward call” (1 Timothy 6:12; Philippians 3:14). It not only requires a heavenly focus, but it also requires a fight to overcome the downward pull and pressures emanating ultimately from Satan’s realm. Hence the apostle reminded Timothy of the courageous “good confession” that he had made in the presence of many witnesses, prefaced with these words: “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus...” Timothy was being “charged” in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ to fight the good fight of faith, and take of hold of eternal life! The point is well emphasized—it is a tremendous fight!

The challenges to preaching the gospel in the first century were great, and the persecution was often intense. Timothy himself was going to have personal jail time, as noted by Hebrews’ author, “Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released” (Hebrews 13:23). Timothy needs to be reminded of the courage he had when he made the good confession, he needs to keep the commandment without stain, and he needs to be firm in faith while expecting the Lord’s sudden return. True of all modern saints as well…



Dwelling in Unapproachable Light

God had said to Moses, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Exodus 33:20). While God appeared in different types of visions under a variety of circumstances as recorded in the Old Testament, it remained to the appearance of the Messiah to bring the knowledge of God to mankind. “No man has seen God at any time,” commented the apostle John. “The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). This “explanation” culminates in the ascension of Christ to glory, and the revelation of Him in that shining and powerful position given to the apostles and new covenant prophets by the Holy Spirit. Jesus, said Peter and the other apostles while on trial before the Sanhedrin, “is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior…and we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:31,32). Christ, stated Hebrews’ author, “is the radiance” of the Father’s “glory, and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). This, then, is the complete “explanation” of God revealed in the scriptures through the presentation of Jesus Christ to the world! The apostle Paul draws on this information to exhort his young charge Timothy. “Fight the good fight of faith,” Paul had encouraged Timothy. “Keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ which He will bring about at the proper time” (1 Timothy 6:14,15).

Jesus is the great God over all, the great I AM the scriptures reveal to mankind. He dwells in this “unapproachable light” also called glory, and no one with physical eye has seen or can see Him. “Beloved, now we are children of God,” asserted the apostle John, “and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Who is this “God” who is going to appear? The Lord Jesus Christ! “To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen!” (1 Timothy 6:16).



More on "Riches"

The apostle Paul goes back to a thread of thought that he had been working on, concerning the danger of “the love of money.” More money can mean more options, more ability to hire people to do work, and more opportunities for expansion. These aspects could cause a poor evangelist’s head to turn; hence the apostle had given a stern warning that “some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10). Paul had even warned the elders at Ephesus in his parting words with them about the proper handling of money and a subtle warning about covetousness, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35). So, some further instruction for Timothy.

Earth is very temporary, and brethren in whom is still the breath of life need to be reminded of that. Christians who have financial resources are encouraged to be “storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:19). What children of God do with their finances here does count when the “books” are opened and the dead are “judged from the things written in the books, according to their deeds” (Revelation 20:12). It is that “unfailing treasure” of which Jesus spoke, wherein He added, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). The correct focus for “those who are rich in this present world,” and indeed for all brethren, is “take hold of that which is life indeed!”



Falsely Called “Knowledge”

Humanist Manifesto I, first published in the May/June 1933 issue of The New Humanist, contains fifteen points for the establishment of a new religion to shape the thinking of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. (Forces of darkness have been very successful in effecting these fifteen points in Western Civilization, by the way). In that document, the signatories call for the “intelligent evaluation, transformation, control, and direction” of all human associations and institutions (that would include the definition of marriage!). “Certainly religious institutions,” said these movers and shakers, “...must be reconstituted as rapidly as experience allows” (Thirteenth point). This reconstitution of the church of the living God, for example, is contemplated, and all this restructuring is going to be couched in the highest of intellectual terms. What is called science will be appealed to, with numerous studies pointing to a foregone and anti-God conclusion, and consensus of scientists arguments will be trotted out on the stage of public opinion. It is all a big lie, emanating from the big Liar, whether it be from the modern proponents of evolutionism or whether it be from the Gnostic antichrists of the late first century. Timothy, of course, will be warned about these charades by the apostle Paul.

False philosophies and false paradigms have many proponents and many more adherents, and as such exert tremendous pressure. Weaker saints often fall victim to such pressures and lies (although there has to be a bit of willing participation on their part). Paul is concerned about the loss of those who were once faithful, mourning that the pressure from these “opposing arguments” is such that “some have professed [these arguments] and thus have gone astray from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:21). The words, “O Timothy” underscore the importance of the apostle’s concern about “what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’”

The apostle opened his first letter to Timothy urging him to counteract the “strange doctrines” of certain men in Ephesus, warning him of the dangers of those who really did not understand where the Law of Moses fit in God’s overall plan. The young evangelist is instructed on the issues of elders, deacons, and women in the church. He is forewarned of the coming Apostasy from the church as it was set up by Christ, and of the inherit dangers of “the love of money.” Through it all he is encouraged to “fight the good fight of faith” and to “take hold of that which is life indeed.” Then the letter closes abruptly, “Grace be with you.”



Opening of the Epistle to Titus

The apostle Paul, over a period of time, developed a team of evangelists and a network of communication. We see how Luke the beloved physician labored in Philippi and beyond. Aristarchus shows up often, and men such as Tychicus and Trophimus, Epaphras, and many others were part of Paul’s preaching companions. Titus appears very early in the record, at the close of Paul’s first missionary journey. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem where they met with the apostles and elders over the issue of whether the Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the Law. It seems he was converted in Antioch of Syria (or at least located there) and was clearly from Gentile background, as is evident from this statement by the apostle Paul concerning the events in Jerusalem: “But not even Titus, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised” (Galatians 2:3). A trusted evangelist, he was sent by Paul to Corinth to help solve problems there (2 Corinthians 7:6,7). It is fitting, then, near the end of Paul’s preaching life on earth, that he send some directives for Titus as well as Timothy.

Paul, apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8), recruited Timothy and Titus to work with him to multiply the efforts to reach the lost. Timothy, whose mother was Jewish, was circumcised so that he had access to preach in the synagogues; Titus, not “compelled to be circumcised,” worked as one of Gentile background. Both were given similar instructions in their work, co-laboring in Christ with Paul until his execution. The driving mission: “I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, that You should bring salvation to the end of the earth” (Acts 13:47).



The Proclamation

Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, explained that human wisdom would not be able to arrive at any real knowledge of who God is. “The world,” averred the apostle, “through its wisdom did not come to know God” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Knowledge of God has to come through God’s own efforts in injecting information into the realm of man’s thought, and this ultimately has come through the scriptures themselves. God spoke directly to the patriarchs such as Abraham. With the coming of Moses, God began to have the message written down, adding books to the scriptures through the Old Testament scribes and prophets. For four hundred years this message simmered as the words of the Old Testament scriptures were read and preached in the scattered synagogues of the Jews. But as the new covenant made its advent, the message exploded upon the whole world through the preaching and writing of the apostles, bringing the “words of life” through Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.

But who would really know about this eternal life if the message were hidden, if it were cloistered? Hence the message is to be proclaimed, heralded as the only eternal good news for eternal life. Thus the great apostle Paul, in his comments to Titis, speaks of this message as “at the proper time manifested, even His word, the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior” (Titus 1:3). May that proclamation reach the entire world!! Soon!!



Appointing Elders

On Paul’s first missionary journey with Barnabas to Cyprus and the interior of what is now Turkey, there were only three people on the team (and one those, John also called Mark, bailed out on them and went back to Jerusalem). But within two decades of hard work, much suffering, and tremendous travel, the apostle had a team of preachers, teachers, and other workers spread out over his mission field—what he called his “sphere” in his second epistle to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:13). A number of his letters are instructions to members of that team, including this epistle to Titus. The apostle reminds Titus that Paul himself was entrusted with the proclamation of the gospel, and that this was in accordance with the commandment of God our Savior. As he greets Titus, he sends grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. An interesting description of the relationship between the Father and Son...

Momentum is such a huge topic. The word momentum doesn’t appear in the sacred text, but the concept is there every step of the way, from God’s calling Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees stretching to the gospel’s being preached “to the remotest part of the earth” and millions being converted (Acts 1:8). Momentum is super important for each congregation as well. The presbytery is God’s way of providing momentum so that sound doctrine and the mission of the congregation carry over in a positive way from one generation to the next.

Paul’s statement to Titus is not to be glossed over: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (Titus 1:15). This is also the pattern for all modern true evangelists, working in the specific areas where they have been placed by God’s strategic hand.



Handling Rebellious Men

The Old Testament prophets, looking ahead, often give pictures of the future church or kingdom. The ideal for the church is laid out in many ways by many prophets, but the pictures are very encouraging for those who do labor in God’s spiritual vineyard. Both Isaiah and Micah graphically portray the church an elevated mountain where the nations (Gentiles) stream to it to learn the ways of the God of Jacob, and former enemies beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4). The church is a place of peace, where each one sits under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make him afraid, and where the wolf dwells with the lamb (Micah 4:4; Isaiah 11:6). But to reach that ideal, much work has to be done continuously, and challenges have to be overcome.

The appeal of those who, like these from the “circumcision,” is to go back to something physical rather than the proper focus of the spiritual elements of new covenant teaching. A “Passover seder” is much more exciting and unusual in its once-a-year observance than the simple loaf and cup of the new covenant Lord’s Supper observed as the weekly basis for congregational assembly. The killing of a “Passover lamb” is much easier to process than Christ’s being the great unseen High Priest of the covenant of the Spirit, offering His spiritual blood in the spiritual inner sanctum in heaven. A once-a-week physical Sabbath holy day is easier to comprehend than the soul’s being at rest through reconciliation which God provided through Christ. And a physical clergy with distinct clothing is more easily processed than a holy spiritual priesthood for whom every day and everything is holy.

False teachers then and now are rebellious men, using whatever fleshly appeals they can to upset whole families. They are still “empty talkers,” regardless of their high-toned rhetoric. And they must still “be silenced”!!



Reproving the Cretans

The congregations on the island of Crete (a comparatively large island southeast of Greece in the Mediterranean Sea) were struggling. It is exciting to realize some zealous saints had taken the gospel and that there were local churches on the island. But, like so many of the first century congregations, Judaizer influences had come in and were pulling the saints back under law. ”Rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers” had come in and were destroying the work of Christ. Hence it was necessary for Paul to “leave” Titus in Crete to set things in order and to appoint elders in every congregation in an effort to stabilize these struggling churches.

The details of modern day challenges are different, but essentially the games are the same. Modern society is on a downhill run, and converts to Christ need to leave the weaknesses of modern thought and modern elements that are contrary to the ways of Christ behind. Occasionally, saints may need to be reproved severely. Saints need to be educated on the difference between the faith of Christ and the Law of Moses. They need to understand how modern “empty talkers and deceivers” still pull people in on issues that sound somewhat Biblical but are far from new covenant teaching and application. The goal is for modern brethren to be “sound in faith.”



Purity

“Everyone,” said the apostle John, who has this hope fixed on seeing God as He is, “purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). The issue of purity is a major one, as evidenced by Jesus’ statement in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). To be “pure in heart,” a person must not have any hidden motives or deceitful actions or words; his concern must be honestly to glorify God and truly to bless the brethren and members of the human race. Such purity and honesty is rare, as illustrated by Jesus’ comment concerning the future apostle Nathanael at his first encounter with the Christ: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47). That comment would not have been made about the high priest and the ranking Pharisees, who conspired to put Jesus to death!

Titus, doing the work of an evangelist on the island, would have to be aware of the hidden motives of the impure and, shrewd as a serpent but innocent as a dove, continue to move forward and preach and teach the gospel. Rather than getting pulled downward by the hidden corruption of the impure, Titus is exhorted, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Pure motive; straight teaching!



Sound Doctrine and Christian Conduct

God fully intends for His teaching and direction to produce people who are voluntarily productive in His kingdom. “Man shall not live on bread alone,” Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy while tempted in the wilderness, “but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In order to “live,” the child of God has to be nourished continually from the pure word of God and sound teaching derived from it. Hence, as Titus was in the process of setting things in order in the churches of Crete, he was instructed, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). “Sound doctrine,” of course, is the unadulterated and un-watered-down teaching of the new covenant scriptures, and how the things of the old covenant relate to the new. Words from God, received in a good and honest heart and processed by an attentive mind, will produce a character that walks in the footsteps of Christ. Do not discount the importance of sound doctrine!

The first institution that God ordained was the institution of marriage. When He “created them male and female,” He made the husband and wife with complementary roles rather than being competitive. In modern times this model for the family and for the general interaction of male and female has been under Satanic attack from many directions, with the obvious destructive fall out. Imagine trying to tell some of the modern celebrity males to be temperate and dignified, or sensible. Picture what it would be like try to explain to some modern female politicians that they need to be reverent in their behavior, and for them to encourage the younger women to love their husbands and be submissive to them. The implementation of these teachings from Paul certainly has everything to do with “sound doctrine”!



Instructions for Christian Young Women

Young people naturally tend to look to older people around them for role models. Imitation is certainly the sincerest form of admiration, but it is also the clearest and most efficient way to be taught. Inside the church, then, there are older people and younger people, by God’s design. The apostle Paul, in discussing purity and sound doctrine with Titus, brings up some instruction on older men, older women, younger women, and younger men. These older women in particular are to be role models for the younger women in the church, and the list of qualities he mentions are worthy of more contemplation, particularly to moderns wherein the society around them is totally going “off the rails.”

Christians are to be God’s representatives on earth. Young women are to be encouraged by the older godly women to develop these qualities and habits, “that the word of God may not be dishonored” (Titus 2:5). Young women are important, and their godly and exemplary conduct is of critical importance in the continuing distribution of God’s word!



Instructions for Christian Young Men

Young men who are classed as saints of the Lord can bring a lot of energy and positivity into Christ’s church. Because of their age range and because of the social interactions that occur at that stage of physical life, they are also the key to a chunk of the evangelistic outreach of the local congregation. Hence, as Paul has given Titus some directives for older men, older women, and younger women, he is going to devote a section of this epistle to instructions for younger men.

The word “devil” comes from the Greek word which means “a slanderer,” and Satan uses slander as one of his most powerful weapons. When young men follow the instructions that Paul gives, it causes Satan’s tools to fall to the ground. Because “the opponent is put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us,” then the cause of Christ can move forward without distractions.

The list of qualities Paul passes on to Titus is a handy reference for young men. If they have areas where they need some more work, this list points those out. In areas where they are doing well, they are to be commended. The overall goal is to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24), to “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). The young men who do this are truly the “knights in shining armor”!



Instructions for Bond-Slaves

A significant percentage of first century Christians were slaves. Slaves, not being able to own property and therefore not able to move about whenever and wherever they wished, had special challenges that are not part of the free man’s life. One of the problems a slave would have would be able to be motivated. Whether a person worked hard or slacked off, he was still a slave, with no upward mobility for the most part and no increase in “wages.” It is easy to see how a slave’s attitude could drift toward the bottom, and he could become surly and lazy. The apostle Paul, and the Holy Spirit, have some instructions.

Christian slaves, then, were to recognize that ultimately, they were serving Christ, and their mission was to serve their masters in such a way that Christianity would be highly regarded rather than denigrated. Slaves were “to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10). Once again, the teaching of Christ is to translate into the actions of the disciple.

Lessons can be drawn from the instructions for slaves. Many modern saints are employees. It is true that they are voluntarily employed rather than conscripted, but if a slave who was in his position involuntarily was instructed by Paul, how much more the free man would desire to implement those instructions in his place of employment. It is worthy of careful consideration: “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Titus 2:9,10).

Slave or free, the saint wears the uniform of “the doctrine of Christ,” and as Christ’s representative to those around him, he is to bring glory to Christ by his exemplary conduct and attitude. Consistent good cheer and high-performance count!



Grace of God Has Appeared

As the apostle John noted early in the opening of his gospel account, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). There was grace in the Old Testament period, but it was vague and not necessarily recognized by those who had been covered by its blessing. Grace is a separate entity from the Law; there is no grace under law.

With the coming of Christ and His covenant into the world, grace has been clearly defined, and its boundaries have been established. This new covenant could also be called “the apostles’ doctrine,” “the covenant of the Spirit,” or “the faith of Christ” [Acts 2:42(KJV); 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 2:20(KJV)]. As Peter was speaking to the congregation in Jerusalem concerning the requirements to be placed on the Gentiles (that is, whether they had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses), Peter noted, “We [those of Jewish background] believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also [those of Gentile background] are” (Acts 15:11). Another name for the new covenant is the covenant of grace!

Consider also what God had to do to make the appearance of Christ and His grace believable. Beginning with Abraham, He laid down the proposition that through one of his descendants all the nations would be blessed. Working through Isaac and Jacob, He brought the physical nation Israel into existence, and thus established a land base for His operations. In that “the Law was given through Moses,” the establishment of regular and meaningful sacrifices impressed on Israel’s mind their sinfulness and thus their need for a Savior. Through the temple and the sacrifices offered there, the foreshadows were in motion for Jesus Himself to be the ultimate sacrifice and High Priest, and the pattern was in motion for the church to come into existence. Progressively, and intertwined clearly in human history, the prophetic basis for the coming of Jesus to the Jewish people was established, and the prophesies given were incontrovertible. Therefore, Jesus could say to the apostles, following His bodily resurrection, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46,47). Grace has appeared, and salvation has been brought to all men!



Grace "Instructs"

One of the literary techniques used by scripture is “personification.” “Personification” is giving inanimate objects or concepts human characteristics. A simple example would be, “The wind sighed as it passed through the forest.” People sigh, but the attachment of that characteristic to the wind gives life to the picture. Another personification was used by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Roman brethren: “We have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:2). This is a picture of faith telling the newly immersed individual to shake hands with grace. This is a form of personification. Similarly, the apostle writes these words to Titus, explaining that the grace of God is “instructing us to deny ungodliness...” (Titus 2:11,12). A scene has been created through this literary device wherein saints see grace in front of a classroom instructing the students.

What, then, are some of the instructions coming from the grace of God?

If the saint really believes the scripture that Jesus could come “at a time” when the saint might not expect him, then the saint will be very conscious about consistently denying himself, putting aside ungodliness and worldly desires. The saint will happily work on being sensible and thoughtful, at putting on righteousness. He will determinedly work at renewing or reprogramming his mind so that he will “follow” in Jesus’ steps, dying to sin and living to righteousness (1 Peter 2:21-24). Turn to God, and live!



What to "Look for"

Where a person “looks” is where he is going. That is not only true in the physical realm, it is also true in the spiritual realm. Jesus phrased it this way: “The lamp of your body is the eye” (Luke 11:34). The “clear eye” is focused in the proper spiritual direction; the “bad eye” is focused on earth and destruction. The word of God encourages saints to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus...who has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). “Set your mind on things above,” was another of Paul’s encouragements, “not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). The goal of God is to motivate His children of faith to follow “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

“The grace of God,” Paul had reiterated to Titus, instructs us, then, to be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

Who is it whose glory is to appear? Paul says it is the glory “of our great God and Savior.” The scriptures are not “Trinitarian” [separate but equal]. In Trinitarian thought, God the Father is a separate being from God the Son, and God the Father is only approachable through God the Son. But that separateness is not how the word of God pictures the Godhead (KJV]. Jude praises “the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Jude 1:25). Pretty clearly “God our Savior” is the Father. But as Paul speaks of “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior,” he specifies “God and Savior” as being “Christ Jesus.” Definitely not Trinitarian! Jesus Christ, completely understood, not only in the flesh but in His ascension to glory, is the comprehensive revelation of God. This is God’s “face” whom the true child of God is seeking, described by Paul as “the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). “When He appears,” affirmed the apostle John, “we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). The grace of God does indeed instruct us to be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”



What Christ Did

The people of God need memorials and reminders. Whether it is God’s putting the rainbow in the sky to remind His people that never again will He destroy the earth with water, His institution of the Passover in Israel to remind them of their freedom from slavery in Egypt, or Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of His sacrifice on their behalf, God knows that memorials are critical in keeping key events uppermost in the minds of the saints. Hence the messages in the book of Acts often refer back to historical events that were key in Israel’s history, and the writers of the epistles sprinkle the events connected with Christ liberally throughout their pages. The apostle Paul, in encouraging Titus about exhorting the brethren on the isle of Crete, calls attention to the return of the Lord, speaks of “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.” In the process, he will call attention to the things Christ did on behalf of the brethren, reminders for their benefit.

Once mere man is conscious that He is answerable to the Almighty and All Knowing God, and that Jesus has paid the redemption price, the question for many is “how much of my sin is paid for?” The apostle Paul is careful to note that the redemption is “from every lawless deed.” Forgiveness and mercy are full and complete, with no tiny hold-overs. King David was aware that human nature is not very forgiving; when he sinned in having a census taken of Judah and Israel, he petitioned, “Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14). God, speaking through Isaiah, contrasted Himself with man, having noted, “My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). Those “higher thoughts” include the concept that if the wicked were to forsake his own ways and the unrighteous to turn his thoughts positive according to God’s direction, God stated that “He will have compassion on him,” and that “He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus indeed gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed”! He is certainly worthy of all praise and honor, and our joyful submission to His will.



A People for Himself

God has had a long-term plan, very broad in scope and in motion before the foundation of the world. As the apostle Peter expressed it, Jesus “was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:20,21). God began working with Abraham, bringing Isaac into existence by miraculous, or very special, action. Through Isaac and then Jacob came the twelve tribes of Israel, and thence the nation. By God’s working as recorded in Israel’s history, His establishment of the types and foreshadows, and His speaking through the prophets, God laid the basis for Jesus’ coming into the world, and for that coming to be believable. Finally, the apostles’ eyewitness accounts of the earthly life of Jesus—including His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension into the cloud—followed with their revelation of Jesus’ exalted position in heaven established the new covenant doctrine. Salvation has come to all men, and they can be born again through water and Spirit. God indeed “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory.” The result, then, for any willing to be true disciples of the Lord, is that their “faith and hope are in God.”

God, when He gave orders for Israel’s encampment in the wilderness, had the intention of having the tabernacle in their midst, and for Him to dwell in their midst. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me,” stated the Almighty, “that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). But from the beginning, Israel went into idolatry, and God never did dwell among them; the tabernacle was pitched “outside the camp” (Exodus 33:7). God, under the new covenant through Jesus Christ, has truly redeemed a people from their lawless deeds and purified them “for His own possession.” This is the people of whom it is written, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Corinthians 6:16)!



“These Things Speak…With Authority”

Speakers and writers through the ages have generally ended their messages on a positive note, something motivating. (Indications are, that because the book of Malachi and the Old Testament canon ended on a negative, the Pharisees and scribes would restate the part about “Elijah” coming and turning the hearts of the fathers to the children rather than have the ending be “lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”) But Jesus closed the Sermon on the Mount with what many would have considered a negative ending. “The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house,” spoke the Lord, using a parable to describe a life built on shifting sand instead of solid rock, “and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:27). Message over; definite “downer.” Jesus was unconventional. “The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28,29). If He wanted to close on a negative to generate to proper effect on His audience, He closed on a negative! Teaching with authority.

There is natural resistance to forward movement or upward change, similar to the groaning of pack mules as they start the morning’s trip up the mountain trail. There is resistance to doing and speaking the right things because doing and speaking the right things requires discipline. “I am afraid,” said the courageous apostle Paul to the struggling congregation in Corinth, “that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish...that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances” (2 Corinthians 12:20). These things happen. To correct these types of problems, Titus was instructed to “speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.” To which were superadded these words, “Let no one disregard you.” Still true advice for evangelists today.



“Some Divine Reminders”

The apostles were divinely inspired men. The apostle Paul, in writing to the congregations of Galatia made it clear that the gospel and the connected teachings which he delivered did not originate in mere man. “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). The apostle Peter, in discussing his authority as an apostle and the seriousness of the exhortation he was giving in his second epistle, commented, “For we did not follow cleverly designed tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). That eyewitness was not just the time of Jesus’ earthly sojourn, but included His ascension to the power position on high as well. “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also,” averred the aged apostle John, “that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). The instructions coming from the apostles, and their reminders, are stressed as important by the inspiration of the Spirit Himself. Hence Paul has some things for Titus to pass on to the brethren on Crete.

Christians really are to be “lights in the world.” God intends for His children of faith to be shining examples of conduct, exhibiting the morals consistent with the name of Christ. He desires that “sons of the Father in heaven” love and care for the saints and for the lost. He wants His name to be vindicated and glorified; and a major way in which He gets that done is through individual Christians, working alone or in concert. Brethren, then and now, need these words: “Remind them...”



A Backward Look

It is possible for a disciple of Christ to quit working diligently on his forward progress in the faith. The apostle Peter noted that such a one “is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Israel had to be reminded that they were once slaves in Egypt, and therefore they had some commands about how they were to interact positively with foreigners in their land. In the same way, followers of Christ under the new covenant encounter scriptural reminders of what their former lives were like, in order that they may show “every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:2). Every saint started in the same place as every other human being on the planet: lost, without God and without real hope in this world. No reason for the brethren to be supercilious.

The “backward look” being used by the apostle Paul helps brethren to process properly the great redemption which Jesus accomplished for them. It also helps them to engage in a bit of self-reflection to ensure that they are not falling back into the same destructive habits that once plagued their lifestyle. Finally, it helps them to continue to show “consideration for all men.” Prayers for the lost and repeated attempts to reach them with the gospel are always activities desired by the Father!



God's Kindness and Love

If God were to execute only His justice, all of accountable age would be lost forever. The late Don DeWelt said with great insight that “the love of God searched the wisdom of God to find a means of satisfying the justice of God” in regard to the problem of what to do to salvage lost men. “The result,” said DeWelt, “was the cross of Calvary.” The thrust of his insight was correct; but it took not only the shed blood at Calvary to deliver mankind, but also the sprinkled blood by the action of the great High Priest of the order of Melchizedek to make the redemption operative. Hence there was a loving and kind plan in motion for Christ’s sacrificial offering to satisfy the justice of God and thus provide a mechanism for the release of captive souls. “He made Him who knew no sin,” asseverated the apostle Paul, “to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“The Word became flesh,” the apostle John pointed out, “and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). This “Word,” cloaked in human flesh, was a step by which the glory of God was eventually beheld by the apostles by revelation, and the fulness of His character exhibited through the new covenant writings. This Word was “full of grace and truth.” Having laid down this point, the apostle John goes on to note that while “the Law was given through Moses,” this same “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The clarification of these big concepts such as grace, truth, kindness, and love is pin-pointed through the revelation of who Jesus is and what He has done for the lost race of man. “No man has seen God at any time,” was John’s definitive remark, “the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). Without the coming of Christ into the world and the attendant gospel revelation, man would still be in the dark. As Paul had stated, “the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared.” What an appearance!!



He Saved Us!

The dreadfully lost condition of man apart from God must be processed in order for the wonderful awesomeness of the gospel to be appreciated. One sin is all it takes for the struggling earthling to be separated from God. James stated it this way: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). Mankind as a whole may think of that judgment as being overly strict, but mankind as a whole does not make the rules! Those who remain in that guilty condition, whether they “do not know God” or whether they “do not obey the gospel,” “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9). One of the pictures from the Apocalypse of John is “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night” (Revelation 14:11). So these are tremendous words of joy and release coming from the apostle Paul, “He saved us” (Titus 3:5).

God has indeed “saved us”! But He did not merely save us from sins by granting us forgiveness; He “regenerated and renewed” the lost by causing them to be born again to a living hope, being called out of darkness into a new abundant life in Christ. The Christian is not only free from past sin; he walks in the liberty of Christ provided by the Holy Spirit, free to walk in the footsteps of Christ and follow the upward call of God.



Out of God’s Riches

Much scripture points to the purpose and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the saints. The day of the visible miraculous workings of the Spirit has passed. With the coming of the complete written word, there was no need to confirm the word “by signs and wonders and miracles and by various gifts of the Holy Spirit” because the word was now established as written and immutable. But all the power of the Spirit in the unseen realm is still operative, and will be on behalf of the brethren until the day of Jesus’ return. “The inner man,” stated the apostle Paul, “is being renewed day by day.” Hence “we look, not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:16,18).

This “renewing by the Spirit” (Titus 3:5) is powered by “riches.” Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian brethren (and applicable to every faithful saint) was “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). This “riches of His glory” expresses the immeasurable resources provided to the Holy Spirit for His ministry to the faithful followers of Christ.

The connection between immersion (“the washing of regeneration”) and the indwelling Spirit goes back to the first preaching of the gospel, wherein the apostle Peter and the others told the crowd to “repent, and let each of you be immersed in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Forgiveness of sins cleanses the “vessel” so that it is now a fit dwelling place for the Spirit of God; the goal is for the Spirit to be “poured out richly” upon the saint that he might stand on his feet and fight the good fight of faith. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law,” Paul reminded the Galatian brethren, “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles,” which he then rephrased for clarification, “so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13,14). The goal of God has always been to find a people spiritually interested enough that He, out of the riches of His glory, might grant them His indwelling Spirit. “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ” the apostle emphasized to the brethren in Rome, “he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). On the other hand, “if Christ is in you” (Christ in you being another name for the indwelling Spirit), “though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). Be alive, and live for Christ!



“Justified,” “Grace,” “Heirs,” “Hope”

Sometimes the apostle Paul in his wordcraft brings together massive and sweeping concepts in one sentence. After speaking of the Holy Spirit’s being poured out on the saints richly, then the apostle superadds “that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). The entire picture of the gospel’s being preached to the lost individual, his redemption through his obedience to the gospel and his sins being covered by the sprinkled blood of Christ, his acceptance into the family of God, and his expectation of his resurrection and entrance into heaven itself are all covered in just one portion of one dependent clause!

The gospel, stated the apostle Peter, does not consist of “cleverly devised tales,” but rather is based on the verifiable eyewitness accounts of Christ’s majesty, including the vast panorama of the details of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, appearances to the chosen witnesses, and ascension to glory. Hence these statements concerning justification, grace, the inheritance, and the hope of eternal life are not mere emotional concepts, thrown out into the world for those who have fluffy minds; these are powerful truths to be grasped tightly by the persevering saint, and not ever released. Thus the God who provided such for those, who by their own power would be unworthy, is deserving of the greatest praise and thanksgiving. “This is a trustworthy statement,” emphasizes the apostle Paul, in one of the five times he punctuates a point with those words, “and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently” (Titus 3:8). Confidently spoken then, and confidently spoken now!



More on "Good Deeds"

For what purpose did the saint undergo a new birth? For what purpose was he called out of darkness and into God’s wonderful spiritual light? The answers are clear and explicit: 1) “to proclaim the excellencies” of Him who so called, and 2) “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2:10). The new creation in Christ is not merely to bask in the glory of God’s presence and relax in the blessedness of God’s grace; he is to get to work. Saints are not rescued to rest; they are saved to serve!

How awesome it was for Christ to descend from the glories of heaven to interact with man on a personal basis; to leave the majesty of the spiritual realm to leave sandal tracks in the mud of earth’s existence. Paul’s writing thus states, “The kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared.” Not only that, “He saved us,” granting us “the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” The “justified,” the heirs, those who truly have the hope of eternal life, are to get to work.

The disciple of Christ, then, “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine,” will be careful to engage in those good deeds (1 Timothy 4:6). “But shun,” says the apostle, “foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9). One of the main purposes of those who put forward the foolish controversies and waste-of-time discussions is to avoid the thrust of the scriptures pointed straight at them. Sometimes their purpose is to avoid scriptural teachings which destroy their false belief systems; sometimes it has to do with scriptures that would convict these individuals of their moral failures. The instruction for the saint comes in the form of a very strong word: shun! Shut the unprofitable discussion down, and redirect the arrows so that they are pointed toward the hearts that need pierced! These are the really good and profitable deeds!



Reject a Factious Man

Those who practice the “deeds of the flesh,” pointed out the apostle Paul, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Sounds serious!! In the midst of this list recorded for the Galatian brethren are “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying...” (Galatians 5:20,21). These evils are contrived to cause division among the brethren and thus hinder the important work of seeking and saving the lost. Ultimately these evils come from the Adversary (Satan), the devil (Slanderer), Apollyon (Destroyer). He generated rebellion in heaven and has carried that to earth. To the extent that he can get into the mind of the individual, that individual exhibits the character of the outcast angel of darkness, and engages in the same destructive work. A Christian who loses his way can become victim of Satan’s work and fall into the same destructive actions as the lost. Hence the warnings!

Titus was working in numerous congregations on the island of Crete. Considering the problems that arose in the congregations which are directly discussed in the New Testament epistles, it is reasonable to conclude that the same types of issues would arise in the churches of Crete. Factions and divisions, unfortunately, are fairly common. Some of the seed falls on rocky soil, and some in the midst of the weeds. Such soils, not being of a “good and honest heart,” are breeding grounds for factious and divisive thoughts and behaviors. Titus and all future readers are duly warned of the seriousness of such behavior, and are given the appropriate and divinely-approved actions to take in response.



Closing out Titus

The openings, and especially the closings, of epistles such as this one to Titus, are valuable for special information. They give the modern reader the assurance that these are real letters, written to real brethren, often at a time which can be tied to the record of the book of Acts. Personal details about Paul come to the surface, as well as information about the people in the congregations to which he is writing. By God’s design, they give the letters the ring of authenticity necessary to shut the mouths of the scoffers and doubters of the present age. There are too many threads in too many directions and too many interconnections for these names, places, and events to be anything but real history.

The apostle closes: “All those who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all” (Titus 3:15). It is an interesting variation is his close that he uses the expression “love us in the faith.” The fellowship of the faith and participation by faithful brethren is a key part of God’s plan.

The letter to Titus is a rapid-fire set of instructions, covering everything from instructions on the eldership to warnings about encroaching Judaizers. Saints—male and female, young and old—are to exhibit in their lives the doctrines of God. They are to turn away from the deeds of darkness and recognize that they have been saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. And there is a major emphasis on the brethren’s need to be zealously “engaged in good deeds.”

This instruction and encouragement to Titus stands out, and is a signal for all other evangelists: “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15).



Paul to Timothy: Second Epistle

The great apostle Paul, close to the time of his death, incarcerated in Mamertine Prison (as near as we can tell), wrote his last recorded letter to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. To the end, the apostle was concerned about the continuing forward progress of the gospel, desirous that Timothy have courage in its proclamation and that the sound doctrine delivered through the apostles be preserved. The epistle also informs Timothy that Paul knew that his death (“the time of my departure”) was imminent, and his words provide great encouragement and a great example of how to close earthly life with a strong finish.

The apostle’s greeting to Timothy is somewhat standard, but the content is not to be minimized. “To Timothy, my beloved son,” says he, “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:2). The new covenant is the covenant of grace, as contrasted to the covenant of law wherein there is no grace. The appeal for grace, then, is the appeal for God to overlook any short-comings in the saint. Mercy is another characteristic of that which is found only in Christ, where God is willing to withhold the punishment and wrath rightly due the transgressor; it is worth recalling that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is appropriate to call for the blessings of grace and mercy as Paul did for Timothy. Peace, then, is the wonderful and awesome result of mercy and grace. Peace with God stems from His having broken down the barrier between the former sinner and God through what He accomplished in Christ, and the Christian’s having participated in the gospel of peace. Peace with God sets the stage for inner peace because the redeemed, again by the powerful action of Him who sits on the throne, has the clean conscience purchased by the sprinkled blood of Christ (by His own High Priestly action). This in turn allows for the development of peace between brethren, and the continuing attempt to have the lost reconciled to the heavenly Father and Creator.



Remembrances

When Paul, along with Silas, made what is called “the second missionary journey,” he traveled across what is now the nation of Turkey, coming to the town then named Lystra. Lystra was one of the locations where Paul and Barnabas had preached the word of God on the first journey. This was the location where Paul healed a man “lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked” (Acts 14:8). The crowd’s response to this apparently open-air healing was to call the itinerant preachers “gods,” and for the priest of Zeus to want to offer sacrifice with the crowds. It took significant effort to restrain the crowds from making this offering, so impressed were they by the healing that had taken place. But crowds are fickle; shortly the hostile Jews persuaded the mob to stone Paul, drag him out of the city, and leave him for dead. Timothy was either a witness of all this, or at least knew of these events. Luke, in his account in the book of Acts, recorded the selection of Timothy in these words: “Paul wanted this man to go with him” (Acts 16:3), as Timothy “was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:2). Paul and Timothy had a long and deeply established relationship in Christ.

For it to be recorded that Paul knew Timothy’s grandmother and mother well enough to know how sincere their faith was, and what kind of training they had given Timothy in matters of the Lord, shows how well Paul knew Timothy and his immediate family. This is evidence of the deep bond of fellowship, friendship, and the love of Christ between the two, Paul’s having trusted Timothy so many times with important missions for the kingdom of Christ. “For I have no one else of kindred spirit,” the apostle had stated of Timothy to the Philippian brethren, “who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare” (Philippians 2:20).

It is easy to see, then, why Paul earnestly desired to see Timothy one more time before he passed from this life into the Paradise which he had seen by revelation!



Timothy's "Spiritual Gift"

There is much devilishly-driven confusion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as “speaking in tongues” and prophesying. The purveyors of false doctrine find room to press their agenda because the scriptures on the topic of the Holy Spirit are scattered, and they have to be connected properly in order to process correctly the scriptural teaching on the “immersion in the Holy Spirit,” the “indwelling Spirit,” and the “gifts” or “manifestations of the Spirit.” For example, in the apostle Paul’s instruction to the church at Corinth about the proper use of the gifts such as prophesying, miracles, and speaking in tongues, he commented, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11). A surface reading of that verse opens the idea that each Christian is to receive one of these miraculous capabilities, and the false teachers drive through that apparent crack in the wall to get their hearers to think that they will be able to possess one of these gifts if they pray enough, believe enough, or have a multitude of people “lay their hands” on them. The key phrase in 1 Corinthians 12:11 is “just as He wills.” An examination of the rest of the scriptures shows that the Holy Spirit willed to give these gifts or manifestations of the Spirit through the laying on of the apostles’ hands!

Without exception, anyone who has these gifts of God as recorded in the pages of the New Testament has them because one of the apostles of Jesus laid hands on him. (Even those who possess the gifts but who are not apostles, such as Philip in Acts chapter 8, do not have the ability to pass on the gifts; only the apostles.) Timothy is to “kindle afresh” his gift which was in him through the laying on of Paul’s hands, get out there, get to preaching, and have his word confirmed by the signs that would be performed through his use of the gift!



Courage!

The god of this world has set many things in motion to intimidate God’s saints and to keep them from opening their mouths about the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church in Jerusalem, for example, underwent tremendous persecution fairly soon after its inception from the hand of Saul of Tarsus (the future apostle Paul). Hence the new covenant writings are filled with encouragement and guidance in handling that persecution and intimidation so that the word of God could still be spread.

Timothy himself, from the city of Lystra, became a Christian in the crucible of tribulation that came upon the congregations founded on Paul’s first missionary journey in what is now central Turkey. The persecution and threatening toward him as an evangelist would increase. Herein the apostle exhorts his son in the faith with these words: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

These words, “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline,” must continue to echo through the minds of each Christian. The chant must be raised in unison, “WE CAN DO THIS!” Let us, then, get it done!!



Not Ashamed of Jesus

The truth of God’s word and the testimony of Christ Jesus has been attacked from the first. All through the Old Testament times, the truth spoken by the Law and the prophets was attacked and twisted, as Peter noted in his “at large” epistle: “False prophets also arose among the people,” he stated (2 Peter 2:1). He went on to apply that same principle to the doctrines of the new covenant, pointing out that “just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” To re-emphasize, then, the pressures to bend, to compromise, to be silent, and to back away are ever present and directly or subtly powerful. Timothy, reminded that he did not receive a spirit of being timid, is thus being encouraged by Paul to overpower the pressures and wiles of the darkness.

It is interesting how the first century Christians were able to go through such intense suffering, first at the hands of the Jews and later at the hands of the Romans. The scripture records the persecution that came on the church in Jerusalem, and mentions similar types of suffering that came as the gospel spread. Even secular history notes the persecution and deaths of those early saints. How did they come through it victoriously? Paul, as he encourages Timothy to join him in suffering for the gospel, brings out the point that suffering successfully comes through “the power of God.” That same power is available today!!



The Power of God

The power of God in modern times is primarily operative in the realm of the unseen. Forgiveness of sins, the indwelling Spirit, a clean conscience...these are not visible. Their effects might be, but that is not definitive enough as proof for the objective inquirer. While Moses visibly parted the Sea, and the walls tangibly fell on Israel’s enemies, the power of God — while less spectacular in the material realm — is of significantly greater importance to the saint. “Join with me in suffering for the gospel,” Paul had exhorted Timothy, adding, “according to the power of God.” The apostle then begins to list some things that Timothy might draw upon in being strengthened by that power.

The apostle Paul wants Timothy to be strong and courageous in the proclamation of the gospel. He wants him (and ultimately the same for us moderns) not to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus, and to be able joyfully to join in the suffering for the sake of the gospel. We moderns as well as Timothy need the reminders of God’s power that works on our behalf — evidenced in the plan of salvation, the holy calling provided by God, and the grace granted to His saints. Those points, held tenaciously in the forefront of the mind, are critical in the brethren’s successful suffering for the sake of the gospel.



The Revelation of the Gospel

The seeds of the gospel are there in the Old Testament writings, but they were hidden from the view of man. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians about “hidden wisdom” connected with the gospel, quoted from the prophet Isaiah: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). These things which were hidden were given to the apostles, as Paul also noted, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:10). What awesome “things” God has prepared through Jesus Christ for those who truly love Him! God “saved us,” Paul has reminded Timothy, and “called us with a heavenly calling,” in conjunction with His purpose and grace “from all eternity.” But it was not made known to the sons of men until the coming of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul counted it a tremendous privilege to be a purveyor of the message of eternal life. “I thank Jesus Christ,” he had stated in his first epistle to Timothy, that He “considered me faithful, putting me into service” (1 Timothy 1:12). But he not only was grateful to be a part of God’s reconciliation of the world to himself, he also had tremendous confidence in its truthfulness and in his proclamation, as he had reminded the Thessalonians, “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). For this gospel Paul was “appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Timothy 1:11). What a legacy!



Strength for Suffering

Paul had just told Timothy that he was not to be ashamed of the apostles’ testimony about Christ. In fact, he added that Timothy was to “join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). Suffering and proclamation of the gospel (and its concomitant “sound doctrine”) go together. Jesus had warned the apostles, while He was making the trek from the upper room (where He had instituted the Lord’s Supper) to the Garden of Gethsemane, about the hostility of what He called “the world” to God’s truth and God’s ways. “If the world hates you,” He explained, “you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Satan and his angels rebelled in heaven, and have done their part to extend that rebellion to earth by working in the minds of the sons of men. “Therefore,” noted the Lord, “the world hates you” (John 15:19). That enmity can even carry over into the heart of the Christian if he does not maintain his proper focus; “the mind set on the flesh,” said Paul to the saints in Rome, “is hostile toward God” (Romans 8:7). “Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” the apostle queried the Galatian brethren, who were in danger of drifting into the mind set on the flesh. Suffering, then, is going to be a part of the experience of the dedicated saint during his years on earth.

The apostle could use the terminology “I know,” and “I am convinced,” with power and conviction. The modern saint, if his faith and appropriate obedience are based correctly on what the Bible says, can use that same terminology. “By this we know,” also affirmed the apostle John, “that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given of us His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). With the same full assurance of faith, the Christian of today can go through the upcoming suffering without being ashamed, and confident also of his positive resurrection from the dead!



Retain the Standard

The devil is real, and the demonic forces are working in every area of human existence. The goal of the realm of darkness is to keep people from the light in the first place, and to knock them out of the light in the second. Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, had commented that “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). The pressures for an evangelist to cave in to the whims and vagaries of a fickle public are strong also. The apostle Paul emphasized in his epistle to the Galatian brethren, who were being subjected to pressure to cave in to the Judaizers, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Timothy, who had to be encouraged to use the gift of God which was in him through the laying on of Paul’s hands, needs some strengthening here.

There is a tendency, when a saint is trying to maintain the standard of sound doctrine, to be defensive about it, and not handle the situation well. So when Paul was discussing the “winds of doctrine” and the “trickery of men,” he followed that with these words: “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Stephen, the first recorded martyr for the faith, was a great example of so doing. When men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (which apparently included one Saul of Tarsus, later this very same apostle Paul) argued with him, “they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). The apostle Paul therefore exhorts Timothy to retain the standard of sound words “in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). The faith would be a necessary ingredient in Timothy’s being able to conduct himself well, Timothy’s believing that God would strengthen him with power through His Spirit in the inner man. Likewise, the love would be necessary, giving the lost or straying maximum opportunity to change their lives to align with God’s word. The Father’s mission is still to seek and save that which was lost; but that seeking and saving can only be done through the truthfulness of “the standard of sound words.”



Guarding the Treasure

In writing to the brethren in Rome, the apostle Paul spoke of “the Spirit of God” who “indwells you” (Romans 8:9). So how is it that some say that the Spirit does not indwell the Christian? Sometimes the question is asked, “How does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians?” as a hostile question, meaning that if the answer cannot be perfectly explained, then the Spirit cannot dwell in the saint. A counter thrust in the argumentation would be (taking a cue from Jesus), “I will answer your question about how the Spirit indwells the Christian when you answer this one: ‘How did the Holy Spirit overshadow Mary so that she conceived Jesus in her womb?’ ” Both of those questions are unanswerable by the human mind, so the questioner simply has to accept the straightforward statement of the scripture; the Holy Spirit did overshadow Mary, and a person who is obedient to Acts 2:38 receives the gift of Spirit. The apostle Paul is emphatic that if a person is not indwelt by the Spirit he is not a Christian, stating it in these terms, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:9). In writing his second recorded epistle to Timothy, Paul gives this charge: “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14).

The modern saint would be well served to ponder, meditate upon, contemplate, and apply these words: “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who indwells us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you”!!



Some Losers and Winners

The epistles of Paul occasionally bring forth some personal points about people in Paul’s life, or circumstances which he underwent. Such glimpses lend credibility to the authenticity of the letters, but they also provide some encouraging examples for modern brethren. But these same letters bring out some negatives about people who became Paul’s enemies (and thus enemies of the Lord, although they probably did not see it that way); these negatives are also instructive, and help modern saints to keep their focus in the midst of major confusion and disruption. Every word of these epistles is inspired, and designed to be passed on by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Two different directions: Phygelus and Hermogenes turning away from Paul and the gospel; Onesiphorus, a faithful and humble servant, willing to do the things of low visibility, but of great value. The first two do not have a happy eternity. But Paul prayed for Onesiphorus, that the Lord would grant him mercy for his service to Paul, and again, “the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day.” That day is coming soon, as Jesus returns at the last trumpet. May each of us find mercy on that day also!



Be Strong in Grace

The apostle Paul, possibly more than any other of his contemporaries, knew first-hand of the tremendous pressure placed on promulgators of the true gospel of God. Early in his teaching career in Christ, his enemies tried to put him to death in Damascus. When he made his way to Jerusalem, before long the Hellenistic Jews there were attempting to execute him. That pressure never let up until he was released from his body shortly after the completion of this epistle. If he would have compromised his message a bit, much of that pressure would have gone away, the concessions satisfying his opposition.

In writing to the congregations in Galatia, the apostle detailed the intensity of these forces placed upon those who preached the true and unadulterated gospel of Christ. The apostle Peter, for example, caved in to the Judaizers working in Antioch of Syria, refusing to eat with Gentile Christians. “He began to withdraw and hold himself aloof,” Paul recounted, “fearing the party of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:12). The fact that even the apostle Peter was driven into hypocrisy by these forces shows how intense these coercive elements were. But Paul is very straight forward about how important it is to stand firm in the face of such opposition. “If I were still trying to please men,” he noted, “I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). He was able to withstand such pressures because, as he put it in his first epistle to Timothy, “Christ Jesus our Lord … who has strengthened me” (1 Timothy 1:12). Such strength is available to all Christians, as Peter encouraged the brethren who speak forth the word of God to do so “by the strength which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:11). It takes extra strength, but it is exciting that God will assist the faithful saint, offering for each “to be strengthened with power in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16).

Timothy was very familiar with the details of Paul’s life, and knew that Paul’s end would not come until the Lord Himself decided that his work on earth was done. He therefore could take good courage from the words, “my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”



Entrust to Faithful Men

The earnest desire of God is for His word to reach out to all men. In fact, these words of Jesus in giving His commission vibrate with that intensity: “Go into all the world,” said He, “and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). But one person’s trying to do everything by himself is not going to get much done. Jesus Himself early in His ministry selected twelve to help multiply His efforts, and later He enlisted another seventy. Not all of the twelve worked out, Judas betraying Jesus at the end of the Lord’s earthly ministry. But of the others Jesus noted in commendation, “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials” (Luke 22:28). It is clear, then, that He had implemented a selection process in which He had recruited tested and trusted men, who would be able to carry out His commission faithfully. This process also the apostle Paul had learned and implemented.

Having an effective system of discipleship is also critical in today’s distribution of the gospel. “The whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27) must still be taught; disciples must be made, immersed, and then continue to be taught all things that Jesus has commanded. That system must include the process of proving definitions of key words, since this takes the doctrines out of the realm of opinion and puts them on the firm footing of scripture itself. The system must be “learnable”; that is, it must be similar to the process of how Math is learned, beginning from “pluses and take-aways” all the way through the complexities of calculus. It must be “teachable”; organized in such a way that a faithful brother can step into the process and be effective. And it must be “duplicatable”; it must be a system wherein the new Christian can be brought to the point where he is a faithful saint, and thus able to teach others also.



Soldiers, Athletes, and Farmers

An effective evangelist is going to face many challenges along his journey as a faithful proclaimer of God’s living word. In the physical realm, there will be many travel obstacles such as bad roads, long hours, mechanical breakdowns, and other unforeseen (at a human level ) hazards (no different from anyone else out there working in earth’s physical environment). There will be “strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances” (2 Corinthians 12:20). There will be “dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from countrymen, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers from false brethren” (2 Corinthians 11:26). There will be pressures to compromise the word of God “just a little bit,” to make it more “palatable,” and to be “less offensive and more loving” in its presentation. The apostle Paul set the example, as he emphasized to those Corinthian brethren, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17). Hence the apostle has some advice with which to challenge and encourage the young preacher.

“Consider what I say,” is Paul’s summary statement, “for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). Timothy’s continuing life experiences —in earnestly desiring to make and keep disciples — would give him, by God’s providential hand, an understanding of the principles the apostle is herein setting forth.



Hardship for the Gospel

The gospel of God faces tremendous opposition from Satan and his assembled forces of darkness. Because Satan is a spirit, the evidence of his activity can only be properly appraised by those whose minds are trained by scripture and experience to recognize the effects of his machinations. The intense spiritual battles con-nected with the spread of the gospel tend not to be recognized by those who citizenship is only on earth; hence struggle for souls experienced by an evangelist like Timothy is often a struggle that, from a human perspective, is a struggle alone. The apostle Paul, in writing to the brethren in Philippi, had positive comments about Timothy which also illustrate that even among saints there can be a lack of understanding of the full force of the battle. “For I have no one else of kindred spirit,” stated the apostle, “who will genuinely be concerned about your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:20,21). It is from prison, then, that the apostle now writes words of encouragement to one who also knows the intensity of the warfare for the souls of the saints and of the lost.

A proclaimer of the gospel such as Timothy is thus warned that in the spiritual conflict of darkness vs. light that much hardship is to be expected. The things concerning Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David according to the flesh, are unchanging and eternal. If therefore the servant of Christ suffers, even to the point of imprisonment, the word of God will continue to go forth. “So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth,” stated the Almighty through Isaiah. “It shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).



Chosen, Salvation, Glory

Sometimes those who penned the scriptures under inspiration from the Holy Spirit brought forth massive, awesome, and sweeping concepts in a space smaller than a single sentence! The apostle Paul had told Timothy to be in remembrance of Jesus Christ in all that he did and taught, a Jesus that was risen from the dead, and the truths about Him revealed in the gospel which Paul preached. He then added that it was for these gospel truths that he suffered hardships, hardships which even included being locked up in prison as if he were some sort of criminal. He then adds, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). Massive, awesome, sweeping concepts!

Paul considers his participation in the gospel as worth all the hardship and imprisonments for the benefits which would accrue to those who heard and heeded his message. For others to be considered “the chosen,” to have the “salvation which is in Jesus Christ,” and for them to enter into the attendant “eternal glory” was the driving force in his life!



Major “Trustworthy Statement”

There are five of what the King James Version called “faithful sayings” in the epistles to the evangelists. In the order in which these are being covered, the fifth shows up here in 2 Timothy. After speaking of the wonders of saints’ being chosen, possessing salvation, and attaining to eternal glory, the apostle Paul then brings this to Timothy’s attention: “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13). When the apostle speaks of the “trustworthy statement,” another way of putting it is, “You can believe this.”

This “trustworthy statement” is a significant encapsulation of the faithfulness of God, and the exhortation for saints to maintain their Biblically defined faith regardless of circumstances. Much oil is needed for the lamp of faith!



The Main Thing...

It has been well-said that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” It is so easy for focus to be lost, for discussions to drift into the irrelevant, and for honest enquirers to be turned aside because of nonsensical wastes of time. Timothy, as an evangelist, has to be very conscious of this, both in his presentations of truth on an individual basis, as well as maintaining “crowd control” in group settings. To do that effectively, Timothy would have to exhibit the “power, love, and discipline” mentioned earlier in the epistle.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Worldly and empty chatter, wrangling about words, and morbid interest in controversial questions are destructive diversions, getting the important discussion and teaching off course, and leading to the destruction of the hearers. Since these are “words of eternal life,” these injunctions of Paul to Timothy should resonate with all those who desire to teach and preach today, as well as for those who participate in those settings.



The Firm Foundation Stands

The war for the minds of men is, at the core, a war of words. Words are carriers of thought and concept, and it is on these that the eternities of mankind rests. Hence God chose to communicate to the whole world by “the sacred writings,” and He chose to have that word preached and taught. Satan, the god of this world and the god of confusion, uses false and lying words to confuse, distract, and redirect mankind away from the path of truth and life. Paul had just charged Timothy to instruct the brethren not to wrangle about words because such wrangling leads to the ruin of the hearers. Worldly and empty chatter, he said, leads to further ungodliness. All about words!

The faithful saint knows what he believes because he has studied and tested the word of God and found it to be true. He has examined his own salvation and checked his belief and obedience against the word of God and found it to be consistent with what is written. He knows that he is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ because he can point to his obedience to God in immersion in Jesus’ name. He has set his mind on things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh. He is confident, then, on an objective basis, that he is in good standing with the Supreme Judge, based on what God’s word says. How encouraging and strengthening these words from the firm foundation then become: “The Lord knows those who are His”!



From the Great Seal

Since very early in the formation of the republic of the United States of America, there has been “the great seal.” On the obverse side is the bald eagle with the flag, and on the reverse side is the pyramid claimed to have “the eye of Providence” at the top. This seal has been entrusted to the Secretary of State, and representations of it are found on nearly every federal building in the U.S., and currently on the one-dollar bill. This very prevalent seal is a great picture for the point the apostle Paul is making: “The firm foundation stands,” he notes, “having this seal.” The physical picture is of the true temple’s foundation having the impress of the seal prominently displayed on its wall. “The Lord knows those who are His,” would be, for example, the obverse side, and the reverse side would read, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.” While the saint can be confident in the Lord’s knowing him, the warning on the other side of the seal cannot be ignored.

The firm foundation of the Lord does indeed stand! The saint’s responsibility is to be diligent in making “certain about His calling and choosing you” (2 Peter 1:10). In that way the disciple of Christ can be certain that the Lord knows him as one of His own. The saint’s parallel obligation is to abstain from wickedness in any form. The Lord’s side is guaranteed; the variable is whether the saint will step up to his responsibility and obligation. If he does, he maintains the seal of his redemption, and is guaranteed the positive resurrection from the dead at Jesus’ return.



In a Large House

For most of mankind, for most of history, housing has been a problem. Whether it has been the challenge of putting up a log cabin in a forest clearing, or affording housing in densely packed cities, most of mankind has been shoved into a fairly small or primitive space, without many of the “niceties” or comforts of a spacious home. In most societies, however, there are a percentage of those who have financial means for bigger and better living conditions. Those would be the ones who live “in a large house.”

God has done tremendous work in raising Jesus from the dead and seating Him at the right ha-d of power in order to have “new creations,” who will be “vessels of honor.” The words of Hebrews’ author come to mind: “For the ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, is it worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned” (Hebrews 6:7,8). “Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). In this way the saint will be a useful vessel in the large house of the Lord, and of much more value than something of mere silver or gold.

The Lord’s Bond-servant

One of the goals of God is to have sons of the Most High who are useful to Him. While saints can and need to be useful in the directly physical realm, such as making sure the trash around the church building is picked up, the real need is for them to be useful in the spiritual realm. And to be of use, the individual making a claim to godliness must be in the process of “cleansing himself” of wickedness, stain, or filthiness, so that he will be one of God’s vessels “of honor.” Hence Timothy was exhorted to “flee from youthful lusts.” But it was also enjoined upon Timothy to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” It is in the increased possession of those attributes that brethren can be of greater use to the Lord. By joining in with those others “who call upon the Lord from a pure heart,” the Christian soldier can march in victory with the army of God, winning souls for the sake of Christ’s name.

Those who are outside of Christ need to be converted, and this is going to be done by words of truth, often amid much opposition. Likewise, it is clear from the New Testament epistles that brethren in Christ can be turned aside from the paths of righteousness and need correction as well. The disciple of Christ in the position of trying to help the lost and confused must truly be a “vessel of honor,” so that the personal attacks are irrelevant. He then will be in a position of strength — a useful bond-servant!

Release from Captivity

It cannot be overstressed that the war for the souls of men is intense. Most brethren know that there is such a war, but unless a saint is consistently engaged in seeking and saving the lost (and thus seeing many of the roadblocks which Satan throws in the way of progress), he might not be cognizant of the intensity and persistency of the war. “We wanted to come to you (I more than once),” the apostle Paul informed the suffering brethren in Thessalonica, very concerned about their maintaining their faith, “and yet Satan thwarted us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). The devil will do whatever is in his power to hinder the progress of the true gospel, and will try to divert people’s attention away from the only way of salvation through immersion into Christ. He will try to exploit weaknesses in the brethren, or perceived faults in the gospel-presenter in order to cloud the picture for the soul contemplating his eternity. Paul thus had told Titus to “be an example of good deeds…dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:7,8).

Christ has so ordained that the lost are saved through the efforts of faithful brethren. In the process, the brethren learn more about the love of God for the souls of men, and undergo transformation themselves in the process of helping the lost to be extricated from the devil’s snare. The saint ceases to be quarrelsome, but ends up being “kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, and with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.” Praise be to the All Wise for His multifaceted plan in working to redeem the souls of men!

The Coming of Difficult Times

Once in a while, in the scriptures, the curtain parts for an instant and viewers get a glimpse of the shadowy realm of Satan and his fallen angels. The scriptures indicate that the devil reached for what was not his, and in anger staged a rebellion amongst his fellow angels. Peter described them as angels who “sinned,” and Jude pointed out that they were “angels who did not keep their own domain but abandoned their proper abode” (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). Satan is the head of these fallen angels, and is thus the great Adversary. When man was created on earth the Enemy therefore took opportunity to entice man into that same rebellion. Through Jesus Christ the loving God has extended the opportunity for fallen man to escape from Satan’s snare, be redeemed, and prosecute the spiritual warfare on God’s behalf. But the world is still full of those unredeemed souls who often are outrightly hostile to God’s righteousness.

In the midst of such treacherous and swelling currents, the saint needs to keep his course fixed, and maintain his focus on the things above. There will be those who hold “to a form of godliness” among them, “although they have denied its power” (2 Timothy 3:4). “Avoid such men as these,” Paul tells Timothy. Such bad company would corrupt good morals, and the goal of attaining to the proper resurrection of the dead has to be clung to very tenaciously.


Just as Jannes and Jambres...

Difficult times are coming, and modern saints must spiritually prepare. The darkness is on a rampage, pushing against the light as hard as possible. As the “de-Christianizing” of America continues, and Western Civilization in general collapses, the “brutal,” “treacherous,” and other undesirables will become bolder in their denigration of and persecution of anything resembling Christianity. Some of these enemies are openly hostile and try to destroy Christians and Christianity on a person-to-person basis, and others try to destroy Christianity through government oppression. But some are more subtle, and dress themselves in “sheep’s clothing.” The apostle Paul, in his second recorded letter to Timothy, puts some extra emphasis on these enemies; the brutal ones are obvious, but the subtle ones require extra alertness and sensitivity.

“Men of depraved mind,” the apostle terms them. Sooner or later, such sowing to the flesh will yield the harvest of spiritual destruction. “But they will not make further progress,” affirms Paul, “for their folly will be obvious to all, as also that of those two came to be” (2 Timothy 3:9). It is not likely that Pharaoh would have gone into battle with Israel without his magicians; it is implicit that Jannes and Jambres perished with the other Egyptians. The absolute folly of following Satan will be evident on Judgment Day. Modern saints will take heed.


Following Paul’s Example

Peer pressure has always been a part of earthly existence. Hence the apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Roman brethren, delivered this exhortation: “And do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). “Men of depraved mind” are always at work, often inside the church of the Lord as well as in the world. These, states the apostle, are “rejected as regards the faith” (2 Timothy 3:8). But they often have major influence, and their sour attitudes and hidden agendas pull many down with them. A good example of the power of peer pressure was exhibited in the synagogues around Jerusalem near the time of the conviction and death of Jesus. Even though many of the men who actually ruled the local synagogues believed in Jesus, “but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42,43). That pressure would have been on Timothy also. But he chose, as can every person of accountable age on the planet, to imitate the example of Paul and follow the upward call of God!

The apostle Paul really appreciated Timothy for following his example and preaching the gospel from the right heart. “But you know,” he commented to the church at Philippi, “of his proven worth” (Philippians 2:22). Each of the modern brethren can learn from Timothy’s example, and do his part for the gospel of the glory of Christ.


Powering through Persecutions

Pain is a necessary part of human existence. Without pain, there is no feedback mechanism in place so that safety boundaries can be maintained in earth’s often hostile and dangerous environment. The stove may be hot, but if the finger does not feel the pain, then some major damage is going to occur. The result, then, is that mankind learns to avoid pain, and that is generally the safe and intelligent course to follow. However, the picture changes a bit in the spiritual arena. The saint is exhorted to go into a hostile world with the gospel, encountering not only its directly physical challenges but also facing its subtleties and trickery. Hence the follower of Christ has to set aside his naturally developed desire to avoid pain, and be willing to face with joy the pain that comes with persecution.

Modern saints can take lessons from the apostle on how to handle “afflictions” which increasingly will come on Christians as the forces of darkness increase their influence. “And indeed,” asseverates the apostle, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). This is not an attempt on the part of the apostle to scare anyone; it is rather a commentary on the evilness of this present age. The key point to remember is that even though Paul and his associates were “burdened beyond” their strength, they came through victorious because the Lord strengthened them!


Key to Victory

Ever since Satan was able to bring his rebellion successfully to earth, the righteous in God’s eyes have unavoidably encountered conflict and challenges. The devil, said Jesus, “was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). This was exhibited in a very physical way when Abel, the righteous son, was slain by the one whose mind was influenced by the tempter. But as the gospel has come into the world with its capacity to deliver men from the clutches of the prince of darkness, so Satan has ramped up his deception and persecution. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” commented the aged John, and that whole world is increasingly coming together in its goal to wipe the name of Jesus Christ off the face of the earth, and eliminate the gospel’s ability to call the lost out of darkness. The saint has to ponder the point of the apostle Paul, where he simply points out that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” And he has to ponder the point from the perspective concerning how he will spiritually strengthen himself so that he can come through such persecution victoriously.

“Then what advantage has the Jew?” Paul queried in provoking thought among the brethren in Rome. “Great in every respect!” he responded. “First of all,” he pointed out, “that they were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1,2). (The modern equivalent is to be raised in a home where the Bible is honored, and it is accepted as the authoritative word of God.) “The sacred writings” are the only source of information which produces the Biblically defined “faith of Christ,” in which are found the truths which must be believed and obeyed for the salvation of the soul. The understanding of the conviction about those truths is what guides saints such as Timothy through the confusing maze of false doctrine, the strength to withstand Satan’s pressures. This faith, then, “is the victory that has overcome the world!” (1 John 5:4).


All Scripture Is Inspired...

Jesus’ question is worth considering again: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Or the follow-up question, “For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36,37). The point of the questions, clearly, is to get those within the hearing of Jesus’ voice to understand the eternal value of their souls and not sell them for a mess of pottage. Some of the basics of scripture are straight-forward: the record shows that all those who are old enough to “know better” have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord, that one such sin separates the sinner from God, and that individual — unless he has his sins forgiven and is in fellowship with God — will perish in the eternal hell fire on Judgment Day. Hence, as the apostle Paul stated in his first epistle to Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “The gospel ... by which you are saved,” averred the apostle, has the elements “of first importance ... that Christ died for our sins according to the [Old Testament] scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the [Old Testament] scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

“All scripture,” then, including the new covenant writings, are inspired by God. It is exciting, comforting, and powerful that the words of the entire Bible can be appealed to as final and of absolute authority!


All Scripture Is Profitable

The Bible is a truly remarkable book (or collection of books). The genius of God is evident in His way of communicating some of the facets of His mind to finite man. The Bible itself is the ultimate romance story, with the Bridegroom overcoming the most challenging obstacles (including overcoming death) to rescue His bride, with many lesser plots, subplots, and times-out for “teaching moments” along the way. In its contents, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to live and godliness” (2 Peter 1;3). “All scripture,” then, “is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness...” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The remolding of the follower of Christ accomplished through the “God-breathed” scripture is for a purpose. Paul continues the thought in this way: “that the man of God may adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). The “every good work” is tied to Jesus’ purpose of seeking and saving the lost. The servants of Christ, every one of whom is a “man of God,” have been given everything they need to carry out this awesome and all-important mission.

The scripture really does contain the instruction and motivation for the saint to execute the will of God in his daily life. It sets forth the doctrines that are so necessary for the foundation. It has the information for directing the moral compass of the faithful child of God. It shows how the person who has been immersed into Christ is indwelt and therefore strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man. And, ultimately, it paints the picture of the upward call of God through Jesus Christ for maximum motivation and the basis for a continually positive attitude. The scripture is profitable!!


The Charge!

This earth exists for one purpose only: it is a habitation for the formation of those who will voluntarily be “born from above” to walk in the footsteps of Christ. When the point is reached where there are no further prospects on the planet that are truth-seekers, the purpose for earth is done, along with the heavens also. “As a mantle,” the writer of Hebrews quoted the psalmist, “You will roll them up; and as a garment they will also be changed” (Hebrews 1:12). But until that point the urgent commission of Jesus stands. “Go into all the world,” He said, “and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). “God was well-pleased,” commented the apostle Paul, “through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Paul further instructed the Corinthian brethren, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you...” (1 Corinthians 15:1). Hence the apostle is going to “charge” Timothy: PREACH THE WORD!

Implicit in Paul’s charge to Timothy, and the weight he placed upon the charge, is that there is tremendous opposition to “the message preached.” The entire array of the forces of darkness is bristling with opposition to the message of the gospel’s reaching the corners of lost man’s existence. Every army that marches, every editorial that issues broadsides, every piece of propaganda that is distributed...everything is part of the warfare for or against the gospel. The strategy of God in his warfare is simple: PREACH THE WORD!


Reprove, Rebuke, Exhort

Nothing of large scale or of significant moment is accomplished without persistent and consistent effort. And nothing is of larger scale than the salvation of one soul, each of which is worth more than the whole world. Therefore nothing is of more significance than the distribution of the gospel around the world. God’s desire to have the gospel preached is thus accomplished in the face of tremendous opposition from the forces of darkness and evil because that preaching is exactly what the devil does not want accomplished. Hence the exhortation to Timothy to “preach the word,” and to be ready to do so “in season and out of season.” Under the heading of that preaching, the apostle gives more information to his charge, saying, “reprove, rebuke, exhort.” Persistency and consistency in preaching the word is the core of getting God’s large scale and all-important plan in motion and keeping it in motion.

Paul tells Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” Those whose feet tread the surface of the earth require great instruction in order to have the knowledge of what they might need to do differently, and they need great instruction to get the motivation necessary to make the changes to do things differently. Those giving such instruction need great patience in the process. The hearers need time to learn; the hearers need time to be motivated; the hearers need time to decide what to change and when to change it; the hearers need time to implement the mental processes required for such change to be implemented. The preacher/teacher needs greaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat patience!!


Telling People What They Want to Hear

The word of God is indeed “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). For the truth-seeker, this is welcome news, offering direction in the midst of a foggy and confused landscape. But for the non-truth-seeker, there is always a tremendous effort to escape the cut of the blade, and to run to some darkened corner rather than face the truth of God’s holy word. The preachers of New Testament times, for example, often faced tremendous difficulty in getting people to hear the word. Stephen’s words to the Sanhedrin are instructive in considering audience response to the truth of the gospel: “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?” (Acts 7:51,52). Openly rebellious or passive/aggressive individuals will set their ears to hear what pleases them rather than what pleases God.

The word of God is sifting and sorting the hearts of men. An evil, unbelieving heart is what turns away from the sound doctrine of scripture, and seeks out someone to tell it what it wants to hear. The judgment of God will rightly fall upon all those who thus turn away from the truth. They got their ears “tickled” while on earth, but there will be nothing but “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for all eternity.