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Aug 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

August 12, 2018 – 1 Timothy 1:1-7

Make the Most of Your Time
(Don’t Waste It)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus our hope.
To Timothy, my true child in faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
 1 Timothy 1:1-2

Intro: This last week I had a conversation with a young woman

Afterward, I was impressed by her sincerity and compassion
– she had been trying to explain her beliefs to her roommates
• for awhile they had listened, but then began to raise objections
• so she warned them, that we are living in the “end times!”
◦ and whoever doesn’t believe in Jesus will go to hell
◦ that pretty much ended their talk
– to her credit, she was very receptive when I suggested she try a different strategy

Why do we drift from the essentials to the esoteric?
– I think we’re naturally drawn to subjects that are either fearful or fascinating
• fascination may hold someone’s attention
• fear may even motivate a change in someone’s behavior
◦ but neither one changes who a person is on the inside
◦ love, however, restructures our whole inner life

The most compelling reason for someone to listen to you is love
The most persuasive evidence you can offer someone is your story

Paul begins this letter to his protégé in the usual way

The first verse tells who wrote the letter
The second verse tells to whom it was written
– notice how God and Jesus are on both sides of this correspondence:
• Paul’s side: an apostle of Christ Jesus
◦ what he was given–a “commandment” both duty and authorization
◦ God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope
• Timothy’s side: “true [genuine] child in faith”
◦ what he is given–“grace, mercy and peace”
◦ God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord

There is no need to look for lengthy explanations why Paul refers to God as our Savior and Jesus as our hope in verse 1, then God as our Father and Jesus and our Lord in verse 2. He is simply indicating the breadth of who God and Jesus are to us.

– before we jump into Paul’s first topic, let’s make a mental note:
• we will make better spiritual progress and fewer mistakes if
◦ we have a stable, godly and gifted mentor
• there is no way to estimate the spiritual value of Paul’s wise counsel to Timothy

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith 1 Timothy 1:3-4

Certain problems in Ephesus needed to be resolved

That is why Paul left Timothy behind with specific instructions
– a careful study of Ephesus reveals the nature of these issues
• and these were deeply embedded in the culture
• so it would take time to help the believers see differently

Timothy’s job was to “instruct” certain men – teachers
– instruct is “command,” “commission” – an assignment
• in this instance, the commission was what was not to be taught
– “teach strange doctrines” translate one Greek word
• in Galatians 1:6-7, Paul mentions “another gospel; which really is not another”
◦ two Greek words can be translated “another”:
allos is “another of the same kind”
heteros is “another of a different kind”
• what we have here is a compound word, hetero and teaching
◦ it was another teaching of different kind
◦ this word appears again in chapter 6

If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing, but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness actually is a means of gain. (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

Not only were they not to teach this stuff, but they should not even pay attention to it
– we’re supposed to be paying attention
• Jesus emphasized attentiveness to his disciples as the way to avoid danger
• but we can waste this skill by paying attention to the wrong things
– Paul cites two general distractions:
myths: the ancient Greeks are famous for their myths
◦ told storytellers, poets, playwrights, and philosophers
◦ the influence of myth in Ephesus was powerful
(see Acts 19 regarding their occult activity and devotion to the cult of Artemis)
endless genealogies: all biblical genealogies seem endless to me
◦ Jewish mysticism produced fanciful interpretations of family trees
◦ preachers who do the same today reveal their own cleverness rather than the Scripture’s message

What did these “different teachings” produce?
– “mere speculations” – more questions and controversies
– the word “administration” has to do with management or “stewardship”
• God has given us the stewardship of ourselves
• we are to manage our lives in a way that takes us deeper into faith
◦ Timothy was to administrate the Christian community to take them deeper into faith

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 heart of ministry

The “goal of our instruction” – again the Greek word means commission or assignment
– “goal,” is telos or “end” or objective – it is where our effort will take us
• first, love – characterized by two qualities:
pure heart – a total devotion to “one thing” (cf. Matt. 5:8)
good conscience – I will come back to this
• second, faith – characterized by sincerity
◦ which literally translated is “no hypocrisy” – not hiding anything

For some men, straying from these things have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting 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 1 Timothy 1:6-7

What can happen if we don’t stick to basics?

People begin to “stray,” to wander and go off course (cf. the same word in 1 Tim. 5:15)
– but that’s the first stage–losing their anchor
• the second stage is to “turn aside”
◦ they prefer exotic or intriguing speculations
◦ that’s what they start going after
• eventually it’s all they’re interested in hearing and discussing
◦ Paul refers to these conversations as “fruitless discussion” — “empty talk”
– this is how I can tell Paul really understood ministry
• typically, itinerant evangelists don’t understand Paul’s concern
◦ they come to town, stir up a lot of stuff, and then leave
◦ it’s the local ministers who have to clean up afterward
• a question the minister asks of every topic is “So what?”
◦ what difference does this make? How is it useful?
◦ we don’t have time for “fruitless discussion”

Conclusion: Shortly after the time when Paul lived,

A stoic philosopher taught a concept of “soul culture”
– what is culture? People living together who:
• share a set pf values, rules, traditions, a worldview, and so on
• or, culture can be a group formed around a shared interest or situation
◦ youth culture
◦ high culture (arts and sciences) and low culture
◦ folk culture – small groups, frequently ethnic
◦ pop culture – mainstream, socially trending
(includes the influence of the media)
– a culture can also be something that is grown in a petri dish
• and that begs the question: How are the uses of this word connected?
◦ it also brings us closer to what “soul culture” means
• culture is related to cultivation
◦ high culture is cultivated by education, experience, and skills
◦ pop culture is cultivated by exposure

What Paul is talking about is the cultivation of our souls

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (Gen. 2:15)

– some early Christian theologians interpreted this as each person tending to his or her own soul
• I don’t want to get too carried away with this but as food for thought:

The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17)

• of course, all we need is for someone to tell us not to do it
◦ and didn’t the serpent promise enlightenment
◦ there were mysteries to be unlocked
– such things have always piqued human curiosity

Another illustration from my favorite family sitcom, The Simpsons: Police Chief Wiggums keeps an arsenal of guns and ammo at home in an ordinary closet. One day he caught his son and Bart Simpson looking through it. Wiggums tells them, “You know you’re not supposed to go in there. What is your fascination with my forbidden closet of mystery?”

• what is it about the fruit of the forbidden tree?
• or other hidden knowledge of the supernatural?

Back to verse 5, where we are to love from “a good conscience”

Ralph Earle explains, “Among the Greeks it meant ‘self-consciousness,’ which was primarily an intellectual matter. It was the Jews, along with the stoics, who introduced a moral content to the term, so that ‘consciousness’ became ‘conscience.’”

– cultivating consciousness, awareness will lead to “fruitful discussions”
• “paying attention” and “love from a good consciousness” give us new ways to see
– the first time I was handed a magnifying glass,
• I wanted to explore everything through it
• I was looking at old things, but seeing new things for the first time

Do you remember Jesus’ parable of the seed and soils?
How will we prepare the soil of our hearts?
What will we weed out?
What will we plant?
There is no day of our lives that cannot turn up an opportunity
to move forward in our spiritual journey
And the ongoing cultivation of our souls
will give us new eyes that see
That is, so long as we maintain awareness of God’s presence
and avoid sterile doctrines, mere speculations, and fruitless discussions

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