THE BOOK OF 1 TIMOTHY
The Necessity of Sound Teaching
1 Timothy 1:1-7 SCC 10/7/12
The organic and unified growth of a church (organization) should be based on sound doctrinal teaching that is based on rightly handling the Word. This seems to be the main theme of the letter of 1 Timothy.
SOUND TEACHING IS BASED IN SOUND SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP 1:1-3
1. An ‘apostle’ means Paul comes with a title of authority. This indicates his status above elders and deacons. As an apostle he has the right to expect obedience from the churches.
2. ‘According to the commandment of God’ indicates that Paul was not on a personal mission but a heavenly one—one direct from God in heaven.
3. This he qualifies as ‘our Savior’ speaking of God the Father since he also mentions separately ‘Christ Jesus’. When salvation is a work of God the Father that deliverance is not salvation from hell. That is salvation as a work of Jesus Christ. He also used this same word for the salvation of women in childbirth in 1 Tim 2:15. So salvation can mean any number of deliverances based on how the word is used in context.
4. ‘Who is our hope’ and of course our only hope is in the salvation Jesus Christ has provided. There is hope in no other person. There is no such thing as self-salvation.
5. ‘Timothy’ the recipient of this letter is Paul’s ‘true child in the faith’. Timothy was saved through Paul’s ministry and has grown up in the doctrine Paul taught. Discipleship is about impacting others with the truth. Paul had impacted Timothy and Timothy was ready to reproduce that in others. But, first, he took ownership of the truth himself. You cannot impart what you do not possess.
6. The greeting concludes with ‘grace, mercy, and peace’—what we all need and want as we live, move and have our being here on earth. The doctrine of God must be passed on to others but it must be done within the context of sound spiritual leadership. This baseline enables our teaching to be authentic and accurate with the truth of God.
SOUND TEACHING IS CONCERNED WITH THE ACCURATE COMMUNICATION OF GODS TRUTH
There are several critical concerns related to the communication of the truth of scripture and the motives in proclaiming that truth. They are expressed in v 3-7:
1. There is the concern for teaching the truth wherever you live and serve v 3
Two things here suggest the apostle was challenging Timothy to hang tough and stay the course. First, we can conclude from these words that this is the second time Paul had to urge young Timothy to stay on at the task assigned to Him by the apostle. Further, with the word used, “remain on” he did not simply tell him to remain but “remain on, continue longer” and this is related to the phrase, “just as I urged you”. Paul is encouraging Timothy to hang tough to avoid burnout or leaving the very difficult task assigned to. Ministry is often tough and filled with hardships and pressures, and sometimes the tendency is to avoid the truth of God’s Word.
2. There is the concern about the influence of false teachers and their teaching v 3
Like Timothy we as the church seeks to maintain its witness in a fallen world, we continually face the threat of false teaching and the endless variety of strange doctrines, fads, and ideas. It seems there is no end to these strange doctrines that are always clamoring for our attention and seeking entrance into the thinking of the body of Christ. This is no small problem because it is often so very subtle. They are called “strange” in that they are contrary to Scripture. These are any doctrines not taught by the apostles or in the Old Testament. So if it is not in the NT or OT do not teach it. Things like being slain in the spirit, laughing meeting, political redemption, environmental redemption, psychological therapies, emptying ourselves, self-actualization, and/or circumstantial leadings. This is in addition to false doctrinal teaching about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the way of salvation, the sufficiency of scripture, and/or the origin of the universe. Strange doctrines” are doctrines of different kind, teachings not in keeping with the divine and infallible standard of the revelation of God in Scripture or the revelation of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the final analysis, this means deviating from biblical standards either in content, nature, scope, or aim.
3. There is the concern for understanding the work of God’s Kingdom v 4
Failure to use and handle the Scripture accurately leads not only to what is useless, but actually hinders the work of God. First, it causes “speculations” and “fruitless discussions” (vs. 6). ‘Speculations’ is used only here, but in this context it must refer to the out of the way studies into the ideas of men rather than the careful investigation of Scripture. This ‘mere’ human speculation is futile since it has no way of connecting us to God’s thinking and mindset. Ignoring Gods truth or changing that truth to accommodate worldly mindsets only tosses one back and forth in an ocean of horizontal thinking leading nowhere only in the endless recycling of inadequate purposes for living. This includes things like myths and endless genealogies, which result from subjective ideas about the nature of life. This includes things like apparitions of Mary, belief in UFO’s, or star reckoning for guidance in life.
Such nonsense actually hinders the sound proclamation of Scripture. Note that our text says, “rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith”. The stewardship of preaching the Word in this administration of God today is to be done in faith and is designed—because of the Bible’s accuracy, sufficiency, and authority—to bring people to faith in the work of God in Christ. This is the wealth of assurance, which only an accurate understanding of Scripture can give. If we focus on these diversions we are not involved in the work of God’s kingdom and there are many false diversions.
4. There is the concern that the aim of our instruction is love v 5
This clearly teaches us that the aim of our instruction or communication of biblical knowledge is love. Sound teaching is to produce this kind of love as the goal of biblical instruction. In other words, the study of the Word is never to be an end in itself. It is a means to an end; namely it is the character of Jesus Christ reproduced in the believer by the fruit of the Spirit. This love producing instruction is processed in three ways:
1. From a Pure Heart: A cleansed heart refers to an inner life that has been cleansed of all known sin by honest confession. But this would also refer to a heart that has been cleansed in its attitudes, motives, values, and priorities, and in its emotions and choices. This means being cleansed by the Word from selfish perspectives, values, priorities, and pursuits. A pure heart stresses our honesty with God and our motives—free from selfish pursuits and goals.
2. From a Good Conscience: “Good” is used of what is good in the sense of beneficial in its results and actions. The opposite is a seared, hardened conscience. The conscience is the place of one’s standards and norms, one’s sense of right and wrong, the place of one’s moral awareness. A “good conscience” that judges and approves only such thoughts, goals, motives, words, and deeds of the heart that are in harmony with the great goal of biblical instruction, namely, love and Christ-like service and character.
3. From a Sincere Faith: Sincere” means “without hypocrisy, genuine.” So our word means “real, genuine,” or the opposite of acting as one in a play. A sincere faith is foundational to all and refers to only to a real faith, but to one that is actively believes the promises and principles of Scripture and acts on them.
5. There is the concern of failing to aim carefully v 6
‘From these things’ refers to the above verses and in particular, failure to promote the work of God which is in faith and the great goal of instruction which is love. ‘Straying’ is means ‘to miss the mark, fail, deviate,’ but it could also mean ‘to fail to aim carefully or even at all.’ It meant to miss either a target or the right path because of failing to aim or watch carefully at the target. The passage has stressed that we have two targets: (a) the stewardship God has entrusted to us, the proclamation and hearing of the objective truth of Scripture in place of the myths and fruitless discussions of men, and (b) the ultimate aim and goal of biblical instruction which is Christian love or being conformed into the image of the Lord which will result in the manifestation of God’s love to others. The danger is that these will be compromised.
6. There is the concern of impure motives and little understanding v 7
It is ‘desiring’ or ‘wanting’ that points to a false objective or goal that had caused them to turn aside from the biblical goals the apostle had just discussed. In the context here, this was a problem of ego and impure motives. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a teacher of the Word as a platform for teaching that Word. The problem is with the why, the reason or motives. So, those here who wanted to be teachers of the law were those who were ego-oriented and motivated by selfish desires. They were those who had failed to have the right goals and had thereby strayed off course. Rather than ministering for God and others, they were serving themselves.
One the other hand, failing to understand what they were saying points us to one of the results, the fruit. When one’s desire to teach the Word is not motivated by the desire to know God more intimately, His truth more accurately, and minister to the needs of others more effectively, then one will naturally be poorly motivated to truly know God’s truth. In their desire to be “teachers” they were not real students of the Word, which is a crucial requirement and an awesome responsibility for biblical ministry.
1. Be aware of the need of handing God’s Word accurately.
2. Be God focused in your use of Gods word not people focused. If you are people focused you will compromise that word to accommodate people. If you are God focused you will tell the truth as a way of serving people well.
3. The temptation to misuse the word of God is greatest when you are ignorant of its teaching or unwilling to teach the truth because of the cost involved.