Oct 8 2017 1 Tim. 1 - The Church's Goal should be LOVE
8th October 2017
Lord, I ask You – for those who have lost loved ones in Vegas – that You would heal their hurts – and for those who are in hospitals, heal their wounds. May there be transformation in our country.
1 Tim. 1: 3 As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
In many of Paul’s letters, he addresses false teachers and false teaching. Often, the source can be found in self-promotion, selfish gain, or an attitude of superiority.
When there are leadership failures in the church – you can usually find one of these three things– Self-promotion – people wanting to be seen, recognized, known, Selfish gain, or an attitude of superiority.
What is the solution and proper response to this?
The proper response is - Good teaching and sound character. That is what is needed in the church. For anyone who is leading a church, it begins with genuine, solid, sound character. It starts with the solid character of individuals. Some have built enormous ministries and then it collapsed – and it is embarrassing to the Church. It is because the problems are never addressed. That is why Paul addresses the problems. – and then, working hard to make sure the teaching is sound – is Biblical.
1 Tim. 1:5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
The word Administration – found in verse 4 – is like a household administrator. The book uses the word Paul is saying – in opposition to the false teachers, his goals – the goal of all his instruction? LOVE.
The love here – is a special kind of love – Agape love. It is God’s unconditional love and compassion for us – which is formed in us and lived through us.
A more technical definition is this – an active response to God’s grace expressed in sacrificial action on the behalf of others.
God is the source and sustainer of this kind of love. It comes from Him and is formed in us and is lived out through us – we cannot have this love without being connected to God and His grace. That is really the only way we can love unconditionally. The final outcome is Agape love – not to impress or inform or to give correct views – but to see transformed lives that people would see this unconditional love.
Today, it feels like the goal is entertainment or to make people feel good or to tell people they are wrong – but the goal is to leave loving better. We need to leave being better lovers.
Agape love forms and informs our conduct. It is this way of life that this entire book – Timothy – is about. What our way of life should be and what it should be in unconditional love.
We should ask ourselves – do I possess agape love? How is it growing inside of us – whether it is at church or in the workplace or school or neighborhood? Are you known for that at work? Sacrificial action and the benefit of others. Do people at work say – that is a person who is known for love? This sacrificial action. That is what the church is to be known for. Sacrificial love. In the public debate today – and your engagement in it – do they think – That is really love (agape love)?
Does this person’s actions and words reveal unconditional love? Think about the debates on social media – is this what Christians are known for? Does it reveal unconditional love? That would transform the public debate! This was their public debate! The goal is love. At the end of this… Three essential requirements – pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith.
3 As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
The inside of us – our heart – needs to be healthy, whole, and pure. Without the core of our being being pure, we will not have the capacity to love. It is okay to address the issues within. We all have them. We talk about them here. Henry and Suzanne were up 2 weeks ago – all they went through and how they worked through the struggles. And all of us have those stories! But it is in the working through, and working on the STUFF, that we learn to love one another and make it work.
Second - Good conscience – proper behavior produced by a pure heart.
Sincere faith – a genuine or authentic faith without hypocrisy. Lived out – not just talked about. From these three things are loving relationships created. If we fail to possess these three, we CANNOT possess agape love.
Love is a hard thing. Loving relationships are hard to create, develop, and maintain. It is true in families, in churches, and workplaces.
One writer wrote: The inward moral qualities of a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith are critical to a church’s public witness.
I would say they are critical to an individual’s public witness as well.
The purpose, the mission of God – these are critical when we are trying to live or serve our faith. That heart has to be right. Faith has to be genuine.
We live in a world of hate, violence and anger – it bombards us every week. I’ve almost stopped turning on the news – it is like, what happened now? I turn on the news and I feel like – where did it happen this time? We need to think: How do we become different? What do we do that can really make a difference? How do we say to the world there is a whole different way of doing this?
"You have heard that it was said to an older generation, 'Do not murder,' and 'whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.' But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment.”
Violence has to be addressed and eliminated at the inner level – and it is done by addressing anger. Violence is the next natural result of unchecked anger. Eventually, unchecked anger will lead to violence. That is what Jesus is saying here. It starts in the heart. Here it is anger – but whatever it is, eventually boils out of the heart and is lived in some form. We need to take a hard look and ask – where is my anger level. The Proverbs say: We need to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. SLOW TO ALLOW THE EMOTIONS TO ENGAGE. There is a time to be angry – righteous anger where we see something wrong and need to stop it. We need to be slow to anger - but anger moves so quickly to sin – don’t deceive yourself.
This love – agape love – is the key to overcoming anger, violence, and all of that stuff. Love is the key to overcoming STUFF. Whatever your stuff is. Learning to live this sacrificial life. It is waking up and realizing that Christ gave his life and we should do the same – not literally of course – but to give our lives for others – to set aside our privileges and advantages and become a servant to all. That radically changes every area of our lives – lust, bitterness, impatience – you can’t do any of that when you are carrying a cross.
Part of the problem – love has been misunderstood. It tends to be feelings toward another – hoping good for another – those aren’t bad things – but love is much fuller than that. It is desiring another’s well-being and good – and acting in whatever way is necessary to bring it about in all ways – emotional, spiritual, physical. How do I love my children or spouse? Desiring to bring them good and acting in whatever way is necessary to bring it about.
In agape love, there will be times that selfless sacrificial action will be required. It means not having our way. It seems small – it is not hanging on a cross, but it is picking up your cross when you do that. God sees it as a wonderful act of agape love.
When I think of agape love – I think of a mother’s love for a child – a baby – it is natural to have a deep love for a baby. It doesn’t always happen, there are overriding circumstances when it doesn’t – but most of the time, you are willing to do anything for them… BUT – all of us have, at times, acted in a way that does not bring about their well-being. IT is just a reality. We are really trying – I don’t question that. Yes, there are evil parents, I understand that – but here in the room, we have people of good-will who desire to do what is right - If you have been angry with your children at some point – you are not the first and you will not be the last. It is just reality. But we need to begin looking – and God wants us to grow in love for whoever it is. Some are obvious and some are not.
One example of this, really two: anxiety and fear tend to prevent love. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear.
One of our children struggled with school. We come from a family of education! Within that family – this was a time of great anxiety! I won’t mention any names of the mom and dad!
We sat down with four teachers – and the son who was struggl9ng – and I remember going through that meeting – and 3 of the teachers were concerned but felt that he would grow out of it. The fourth – really didn’t like our son and it was obvious! Those are the moments where you want to not act like a Christian!
Our anxiety and fear put our son in an awkward situation. It did not bring about his well-being. Anxiety does that. It caused us in such a way so as not to bring about someone’s well-being.
There are so many different ways that agape love works out. I wish I had more time.
1 Tim. 1:6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. 8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately,
These false teachers – Jewish Christians/or quasi-Christians – whose focus was on the Old Testament law – they were using the law illegitimately – teaching the law in an improper way.
This question always comes up – is the Old Testament Law applicable today? Some say yes, some no, and some part – and if you have been around me long enough – you know I would say none of the above. They are not dealing with the problem he is talking about.
The problem with the Jewish false teachers was this – they were teaching that Gentile believers, in order to become part of the family of God, must become Jewish. That is what Paul is dealing with. They used the Law to exclude Gentiles from full membership in the kingdom of God. The Law was given to the Jews and only belonged to them.
They had 3 boundary markers – Genealogy, circumcision, and that they had received the Law. They were using these things to exclude people. Paul is saying that the Law could never exclude anyone – that anyone who believes in Jesus is fully included. When we have faith, we need nothing else. Absolutely nothing else.
1 Tim. 1:9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person,
Righteous people are those who have put their faith in Jesus. For those who have put their faith in Jesus, he is saying, the Law is irrelevant. It was never meant to identify who was in or out.
Then Paul uses these couplets – lawless and rebellious – Ungodly and sinners, unholy and profane – these are the first of the Ten Commandments – rejecting Jesus as Savior and Lord -
but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane,
Then he goes on and talks about the other commandments
for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers– in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching. This accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed God that was entrusted to me.
When we have the gospel, it changes everything. The gospel is for the righteous, the law is for everyone who rejects the gospel. And all of this is in the concept of the discussion of agape love. When you love unconditionally – all the laws, all the morality stuff is fulfilled. It becomes the person you are. That needs to be our focus. We need to zero in on that. Faith in the gospel produces agape love. This is a radical way of doing things. Of living. And this is what Jesus and Paul were trying to get at all along. We tend to try to live life with this list of good and this list of bad. When we zero in on this, we tend to do the bad. But God is saying – no, no, focus in on this – Jesus died for us and was raised that He might be exalted –and as we allow ourselves to be consumed with that – we do the Law. When we make Jesus Lord, we begin to have unconditional love. James says we fulfill the Law.
For the listeners, their response was – that can’t be right! You should still have to do this or that! Our response – is generally – that can’t be right – you can’t just live in light of the gospel and make that our focus. Everything else flows out of that. It is only the gospel that can transform us all – hard work and will power never does – you can stop smoking by willpower, but your soul cannot be transformed by willpower. It is impossible. Your soul – your inner being can only be changed by focusing our lives on what God did for us – and Who He is to us – not on what we are not supposed to do but what we are supposed to do. When we zero in on that – God changes us. It is a long process.
It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give… anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim… It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, secure and comfortable circumstances, a great political or social cause, your morality, or even success in the Christian ministry.” An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I ‘ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”