Because Paul loved the church he wrote to the younger pastor at Ephesus, Timothy, with many instructions on how Timothy should manage church life and various sub-groups within the church. According to 1 Timothy 5:1-16, Timothy was not only to preach the Word faithfully but show resepct and honour to all, treating older men as he would his father, younger men as his brothers, older women as he would his mother and younger women as sisters. There is an inter-generational aspect to the church that is special and unique. But Timothy was also to especially care for and help the widows in his congregation. With no pensions or other social security offered to them, their needs were great. The church is to be a place where people ‘be the church’ to each other. Our witness to the world only begins when we truly show the love of Christ to one another.
The verses of 1 Timothy 4:11-16 form some of Paul’s main instructions to Timothy as a younger pastor of the church at Ephesus, describing the kind of ministry Timothy was to exercise over his flock. It is very clear from what Paul wrote that of the many things Timothy was expected to do, the main calling upoon his time and energies was to be given to preaching and teaching the Word of God. This was not to be done in a vaccuum or with no reference to the needs of his people and was also something that Timothy would need to do to himself. He would need to ensure that his own faith, discipleship and service for the Lord were all an example for the rest of the flock to follow. These instructions of Paul’s are also applicable to all God’s people, whether they preach or not. All are called to model the gospel of Christ to a watching world.
1 Timothy 4:9-10 forms the third of Paul’s five ‘faithful sayings’ that are found in the Pastoral Epistles. These ‘faithful sayings’ were truths that Timothy, and other young pastors like him, could trust and depend on. This particular faithful saying deals with hope. On the one hand, by it, Paul gave Timothy hope, reminding him that the believer’s hope in this world is to be fixed on God and Him alone. Paul also spoke of hope for the world by reminding Timothy that the saving power of Jesus and the fruit that the gospel brings is not limited to Timothy’s area but includes the whole world. And then Paul also gave all believers hope by reminding Timothy that the Lord Jesus is especially the Saviour of ‘all who believe’. We love Him because He first loved us and God’s people, His Church, know Him because of what the Apostles taught and because of our experience of His grace.
Because the Apostle Paul cared about and loved the Word of God, the truth, in 1 Timothy 4:6-8 he gave Timothy the responsibility of proving himself to be a ‘good servant of Jesus’. This was not something to unique to Timothy, but is for all believers. As a good servant of Jesus, Timothy was to be very careful; to watch out for and guard his flock from the error of the false teachers, yet he was also to nourish himself and his flock on the ‘solid’ food of God’s Word. And rather than spend his days at the gym doing physical training, Timothy was to apply himself to spiritual training, exrecising discipline over his body, applying himself to growing in godliness and building up the flock by his own example. All of God’s people are called to grow in this way. It takes time and effort, but the eternal rewards are better than any gain from physical exercise alone.
Because the Apostle Paul cared about and loved the Church, he warned Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1-5, that days would be coming when people would turn away from the faith and that this would take place in the ‘last days’. One notable fall from faith has been Billy Graham’s former co-evangelist, Charles Templeton, who now denies that Jesus is the Christ. There are many factors that contribute to this, but the one that Paul speaks of in the text is the way in which people give time and attention to listening to false teaching. Not all who speak for God do so with accuracy or honesty. And just as Timothy was to guard his people against this, so also God’s people today need to be careful with what they hear and stay within the ‘safe paths’ of God’s Word. To wander off those paths is to court with spiritual danger.
Because the Apostle Paul cared about and loved the Church, he went to great lengths in 1 Timothy 3:14-16 to ensure that Timothy also continued in that same vein. After instructing Timothy in what to look for as in those he sought to appoint as elders and deacons, Paul then wrote of the way he expected Timothy and the other believers at Ephesus to conduct themselves as the Church, the household of God. As the household of God, the Church represents God on earth and therefore its conduct must always be ‘above reproach ‘. As well as that, if the Church is the ‘pillar and foundation of the truth’ then the truth of God’s Word cannot be let go at any stage. And because Jesusis the Head of the Church, the Church must always proclaim Him, crucfied, risen and ascended again to the whole world. The challenge for God’s people in this world is to be the Church’ not just ‘go to Church’.
Because Timothy needed to strengthen the Church at Ephesus, Paul gave him explicit instructions in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 about the role and qualifications of those who would be chosen to serve as elders and deacons of the church family. These roles are not just for any man who puts up his hand for the job, but are for those whom Timothy might discern as being spiritually mature men who live lives that are above reproach, have shown they can manage their family well and can teach the truth of the Word of God. Such men could be trusted with the tasks of leadership in the Church and such men would require extra prayer because being in the service of the King and closer to Him, they would be targets of the enemy.
As part of Christian Union Sunday, Steve Blyth from CU preached from Matthew 11:1-15. In this passage, John the Baptist introduces Jesus to the world but is a confused messenger. He asks to check if Jesus is the one we’ve been waiting for and what he has come to do. Jesus reassures him from the Old Testament prophecies concerning himself and commends John’s message as he prepared the way. Yet we now have a greater perspective than even John as we live on the other side of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection. We have the privilege of introducing Jesus to others as we share the hope that we have in him.
The text of Acts 1:1-11 brings together some of the main events following the resurrection of the Lor Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. After Jesus had spent 40 days with the disciples, teaching them many things and explaining how the main theme of the Scriptures find their fulfilment in Him, while gathered with the disciples on the Mount of Olives, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven. The disciples were left standing there, gazing with wide eyes and open mouths, when 2 angels appeared to them, giving them a gentle rebuke to get them moving and a strong encouragement that the Jesus they had just seen leave would return again. In a world that seeks to undermine the this truth that all believers know, this return of Jesus (at a day and hour that no-one knows) is the well spring of our great hope.
When Vasco da Gama first rounded what was known then as the ‘Cape of Storms’, he went where no man had ever been and became the first to live to tell of what he found far out in the East. When Jesus rose from the dead, never to die again, he also came back to tell us what lays beyond the veil of death. Yet some in the church at Corinth were having significant doubts about the resurrection, and this led Paul to write to them in 1 Corinthians 15:1-34 about the facts of the resurrection and by doing so, remind these believers that the resurrection is vital to the Christian faith. Abandoning belief in the resurrection was to deny the very tenets of the faith and miss out on all that Jesus came to do for the salvation of God’s people.