- Sermon Notes
The Purpose of God
1 Timothy 1:1-19
We first met Timothy in Acts 16. When Paul came to Derby and Lystra on his second missionary journey he met Timothy, a young man who was well spoken of by the brethren. His mother was a Jewish believer and his father was a Greek. Paul saw the spiritual zeal and the great potential of Timothy and invited him to join them on their missionary journey. This all took place just before they planted churches in Philippi, Thessalonica and in Corinth.
Paul sent Timothy on several important missions, including delivering some of his letters to the churches. With Paul as his mentor, Timothy grew to great stature in the early church and after Paul’s death, became the Bishop of the churches in the city of Ephesus.
Paul writes this first letter while Timothy was in Ephesus. Paul hoped to join him there, but wrote this letter to guide Timothy on how to deal with the problems there and how to lead the churches into greater spiritual maturity.
Paul had spent two or three years in Ephesus and while he was there a major revival broke out. It was like the early days of the Calvary Chapel movement, many thousands were coming to faith in Jesus Christ and the whole city was in turmoil because the gospel was changing so many lives that people were leaving their old lifestyle and was even making a huge impact on the local economy. Many who practiced magic brought their books of incantations and threw them into a bonfire. Others were getting rid of their expensive statuettes of the goddess Diana. It was one of the greatest revivals of the early church.
But as the church grew and the gospel made an impact on the city, spiritual warfare also grew. First there were attacks against the church and a great riot broke out in the stadium. More than once Paul found himself in serious danger.
Then, some Jewish elements of the church started introducing strange doctrines, trying to teach that believers must be followers of the Old Testament law if they wanted to be true followers of Jesus who, of course, was also a Jew. They tried to blend in various myths and the pursuing of endless genealogies which were so important to the Jews, but Paul saw them as fruitless debates of no lasting consequence that could cause the church to get off course.
It will take good leadership to keep the church from straying into the weeds and to keep them growing spiritually. Timothy is there right in the middle of it, given the task of being the leader that God would use to strengthen that church and to keep spiritual adversaries at bay.
Paul writes this letter to Timothy to help him confront the issues and problems in Ephesus and to strengthen him personally as a leader. This book has great spiritual application for anyone interested in growing personally as a man or woman that God would use for His purpose.
I. God’s Purpose is to Strengthen Faith
- After a quick introduction, Paul immediately launches into instructing Timothy to deal with certain men that are teaching strange doctrines.
- These, Paul said, give rise to mere speculation and fruitless discussion and debate.
- God is not interested in endless and fruitless debating that serves no purpose other than making people feel important.
- If someone wants to debate simply for the purpose of debating without a sincere desire for truth, I have no interest in it. There are enough people that are true seekers that I won’t waste time with those that are not.
- This is one of the criticisms Jesus had of the Jewish leaders in Israel… They majored in things that were minor and neglected the most important things.
- For example, they had debates about how far to take tithing, but neglected faith and mercy.
Matthew 23:23-24, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, but have neglected the weightier provisions of the law; justice and mercy and faithfulness… You are blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
- The more important things are justice and mercy and faith. In other words, God has a goal and God has a purpose that are much higher.
- Verse 5 – the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- Those strange doctrines and myths about angels and endless genealogies just gave rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the purpose of God which is by faith.
Illus - I’ve been in ministry long enough to see many fads come and go in the church. There was the ‘get drunk in the spirit’ movement, and then there was the laughter movement, then there was the movement where everyone was barking like dogs, then there was the emerging church trend. But God’s purpose has never changed; He is transforming lives and using the word of God to do it.
Illus – When my kids were little I used to sing to them, “House at Pooh Corner,” by Kenny Loggins. I heard that song when it first came out on a vinyl record, then on eight track, then a cassette, then on a CD, then an MP3 that can that can be played from an iPod. It’s been through many methods and formats, but it’s still the same song. My girls loved to hear me sing it, and it was that song that played for the father/daughter dance at our daughter’s wedding.
- In other words, the song never changed and the gospel doesn’t change either. God sends it forth with power to transform lives.
- God’s purpose and goal for your life is found right there in verse 5…
- That’s one of the reasons why the church in Ephesus was so powerful and so effective; nonbelievers in that city could see that something was real and authentic and sincere in the believers there.
- The opposite was true of the Pharisees. Their lack of sincerity was actually quite dangerous.
Matthew 23:13, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”
- God’s purpose and goal is love from a pure heart and a sincere faith.
- Love is the quality most like God. God is love and it determines the course of His actions. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”
1 John 4:7-8, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
- Love is a transforming power; it’s what makes us something. If I do not have love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2, If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Illus - I think most people recognize that we have a problem of increasing racial tension in our country. The answer, the solution, is found in love and not in hate. Do black lives matter? Absolutely! All lives matter and all lives matter equally to God; and they should to us as well. What we need is the unity that comes from love and frankly, the church should lead.
Acts 10:34, Opening his mouth, Peter said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.”
A. Jesus came to save sinners
- Verse 15 - Jesus came into the world to save sinners and Paul considered himself the chief of all sinners.
Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Matthew 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners!’”
- Paul was instructing Timothy to correct those who were straying from the purpose of God in the church.
- Paul knows the mercy of God and he knows the purpose of God because he saw it in his own life.
- Paul was the number one enemy of the church. He persecuted Christians, even dragging them out of their homes, having them arrested, beaten, and many were killed because of Paul.
- Verse 16 - But God made Paul an example of His patience and mercy. Typically, when you think of someone being made an example of, you think of the opposite.
Illus - My parents raised six of us kids and to keep us in order, she would make an example out of us if we needed correction. If she didn’t know who did it and no one would admit it, she made an example out of all of us.
- But God made Paul an example of His patience and grace. As Paul was riding his horse on the way to Damascus with orders to arrest Christians, God literally knocked him off his high horse, blinded him with light, and brought him to the knowledge of the truth, that the one he was persecuting, was the savior of his soul.
- Paul went from number one enemy, to the greatest advocate of the gospel. If God can save a sinner like Paul, he can save a sinner like you and me.
- Verse 17 - reflecting back on what God had done in his life, Paul turns to praise and writes out a doxology, a verse of exultation to thank God.
- That’s what our response should be as well. That’s why worship is so important, it’s an opportunity to be amazed at the mercy and patience and grace of God.
- That’s why it’s so important to have a thankful heart. It puts your life in the right perspective.
II. Fight the Good Fight of Faith
- Verse 18 - “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, that you may fight the good fight.”
- Some had strayed from the purpose of God in their lives, had gone into the weeds, had rejected the Holy Spirit’s leading in their lives, and had shipwrecked their faith.
- Timothy had a prophetic word spoken over him, this happened as Timothy was being prayed over and ordained as a minister of the gospel.
1 Timothy 4:14, Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the elders.
- The purpose of God in Timothy was prophetically spoken and Paul charged him to hold strong to that calling and to be faithful to it.
- I had something similar to that happen to me when I was in my early 20s. It was profoundly moving for me; God has given me His purpose and he would do the same for all of us.
A. Faith is our victory
- The context of Paul’s instruction to Timothy is that life is a struggle, life is a battle, it’s going to be a fight…
- But fight the good fight… by keeping faith, Paul wrote. Faith is the very thing we need through the battles of life.
- I can’t imagine going through life’s struggles without the strength that faith provides. When you’re going through a storm that’s when you need an anchor that holds, a rock on which to stand.
- Some of the greatest men in in the Bible where those who suffered the most difficult storms and yet, because of their faith, were strengthened through it.
Illus - Joseph endured one tragedy after another, but he knew that God was with him and remained steadfast in his faith. Then there’s David and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Daniel who fought the good fight.
B. Don’t shipwreck your faith
- Contrary winds are part of life. There is no place in Scripture where God said, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and burdened, and it will be smooth sailing from here; life will be a path through a rose garden.”
- The problem is that some people become offended that God would even allow them to go through difficult storms and their faith is shipwrecked because of it.
- Others become worn down and discouraged because it seems the storm has no end. This is what happened as Paul was traveling by ship to Rome and they encountered a hurricane force storm that lasted for two full weeks…
Acts 27:20, Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.
- But faith gives us hope. Fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience.
- Some have rejected this and have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
- When you’re going through a relentless storm, whatever you do, don’t throw your faith overboard and most certainly, don’t throw your good conscience overboard either. Because if you do, the result most assuredly will be a shipwreck.
1 Timothy 1:1-19 NASB
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 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, 4 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. 5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7 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.
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.