Tag Archives: I Timothy

Morning Thoughts (I Timothy 6:20-21)

I Timothy 6:20-21, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.  Grace be with thee.  Amen."

This morning, old and young alike have had to deal with controversies and differences of opinions.  Little children on playgrounds learn – in many different ways – that people have different opinions and different methods for resolving those differences.  Some like to talk, some like to fight, while others like to find an adult to intervene.  As these children grow older, the plethora of differences does not vanish, but the methods for dealing with the differences rises.  Some still like to fight, others still like to talk, but some like to politic, others like to spin webs of deception, and yet others prefer to reason through the maze of discussion to arrive at the truth.  Unfortunately, as the methods of dealing with differences rises so also rise the stakes under consideration.  No longer is the discussion about lunch money.  In the realm of politics and leadership, the stakes can involve the lives and welfare of citizens.  However, no matter how suitable certain methods might be in a worldly endeavor, many of those approved methods are not only unsuitable for dealing with problems in the kingdom sense, but most of them are wholly inappropriate.

As Paul finally closes his first epistle to a young minister, he finishes the brush stroke of this epistle by charging him on how to deal with differences of opinion and controversy that may arise.  Paul has already touched on this some in the first chapter, and he will one day in the future touch on it again in the second epistle to this same minister.  So important is this concept that Paul was impressed and inspired by the Holy Ghost to speak of it several times.  As the old saying goes, "If it's in Scripture, pay attention.  If it's in Scripture twice, take extra notice.  If it's in Scripture more than that, by all means get the message."  So, it behooves us today as well as Timothy then to get the message of how to deal with problems that trouble the kingdom.  As with most Biblical discussions, there are many facets to consider which cannot be over-examined to the neglect of the others.

Before dealing with things that invade or offend, Timothy's first course was to keep that which was committed to his trust.  What was Timothy given?  What are we given today?  In chapter 4 Paul reveals that Timothy was given a gift, and in like manner, God has been giving men gifts down through time to be apt to teach and instruct His people in the ways of truth and righteousness.  Timothy's gift of preaching was committed to his trust, and further still, that gift was committed to him for the benefit of keeping the people that were also given in trust to him. (I Timothy 4:14-16) The phrase "committed to thy trust" literally means that someone has made a deposit.  So, God had made a deposit to Timothy first in a gift of preaching and secondly in the sense of caring for a particular flock through that gift.  Unless we understand this first expression, we will never conduct ourselves honorably in the spiritual warfare that we have been called upon to fight daily in the Lord's service.

Ministers, we have been given gifts to preach that must – repeat must – be used in the prescribed way that the Lord would have us serve.  We cannot preach ourselves or conduct ourselves in the way that we feel best.  Something has been committed to our trust, and that thing should be precious enough to lose ourselves if necessary to wield it in the way the Lord would have us go.  Paul and others were prepared – and did – to lose their lives in the use of that very thing.  Furthermore, we have been charged with the keeping and welfare of people that are not our own.  As God's heritage, their welfare should come first to us, regardless of how we feel about any matter before us.  Perhaps they are being troubled by problems without.  That should be a concern to us.  Perhaps the troubles are within.  That should equally trouble us.  As committed to our trust, we should value them more than we value ourselves.

Once this thought is firmly in view and ingrained in our very core, we can then honorably war a good warfare in dealing with differences of opinions.  Paul's clear-cut advice to Timothy is to avoid those things that are offensive.  Whether something is profane (immoral and unhallowed), vain (empty), or a false opposition to fundamental understanding, Timothy's course was to avoid it.  Avoiding something is to simply turn away from it.  Seems fairly straightforward, yet we perpetually repeat the failed cycle of history when we fail to apply these principles in our dealings with variance and error.  However, to get to the point of avoiding something, how do we prove that it is is either unhallowed, empty, or a false declaration?

To investigate this further, we need to first understand that Paul dealt with different things in different ways.  For example, when he applied the same principles that he charged Timothy to keep and perform, Paul sometimes spoke in one way and other times in another.  Sometimes, he pointed out specifically what someone was doing and teaching (I Timothy 1:19-20, II Timothy 2:16-18), and at other times he went directly to the person face to face. (Galatians 2:11) How did Paul arrive at the decision of which course to pursue?  In the case where he spoke face to face with Peter, it seems that the situation was rather fresh.  In the cases of Philetus and others, it seems that the case had been rather ongoing as the teaching had led others away after the erroneous beliefs.  In those cases, Paul may have laboured face to face with them when the idea was fresh or others may have as well, but it had gotten to the point that he felt comfortable to simply point out the false teachings.

To further investigate this matter, we also have to understand the difference of enemies under consideration.  Paul encouraged God's people to love certain brethren for their standing with God but oppose them for their destructive pattern to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Romans 11:28) So, to begin our stance, are we talking about an enemy to the cross of Christ (God's enemies) or an enemy to the gospel of grace (child of God in error)?  While we cannot look upon someone's heart the way that God can, we should despise the efforts of those that seek to stamp out the name of Christ in this old world.  However, it would be injurious to the cause to simply say that since someone is obviously a child of God (bears much good fruit) that we should go along with all that they do.  Such thinking, while noble in one sense, is soft-headed in its nature.

Defense of the truth requires that we sometimes oppose those that we would rather not have to.  For example, most of my extended family – though good people – do not believe what we as Old Baptists believe the Bible to teach.  As much as I would like to bend down to wash my great-uncle's feet (he is the meekest and one of the most honorable men I have ever met), his beliefs about the Bible and refusal to adhere and adorn the doctrines of grace and fellowship of God's church will not allow me to do so in a church fashion no matter how much I love him.  My natural brother is also a yokefellow in the ministry.  As a hypothetical example, should the day come, which I pray not, that he drifts off into major error, my brotherly affection for him cannot allow me to overlook the error that he is in.  Personal preference and affection cannot trump the truth, as the jewel of truth must shine supreme in the discussion and reasoning through disagreements.

Having established all of that, how does one defend the truth?  Even if someone tries to defend the truth against erroneous problems irrespective of the source, one can still do so in the wrong manner.  Reasoning and defense of a principle can be done through debate or argumentation.  One is a very fitting example of Christian warfare, while the other is an inferior counterfeit.  Argumentation indicates that someone uses logical patterns and reasoned thought to arrive at the truth.  Debate means that someone seeks to win the day.  Just on the surface of the definitions we can see that argumentation – in its purest form – is the prescribed method for defending the truth as Paul did in his ministry by reasoning with people out of the Scriptures.  Debate – while seeking to win – will many times stoop to logical fallacies that have nothing to do whatsoever with the discussion.

Logical fallacies are things injected into a discussion that have no real bearing and fact on the situation but are ploys used to seek to win the day.  Maybe someone uses the red herring technique to draw people's attention away from the real issue at hand and keep the discussion shifted to a field of ground with nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion.  Maybe they use the false dichotomy fallacy that seeks to lump the entire discussion into two camps.  Two opinions are proferred as if to say, "Is it A or B?  Pick one."  There might be three, four, or more options out there, while options A and B are equally undesirable.  No matter the technique, defense of the truth should never stoop to debate or logical fallacy as that mindset shows someone that is made up in their own mind and desires to win the day rather than argue the logic to arrive at a better understanding.

Now the inevitable question, "Preacher, what do all these things have to do or tie in with your text?"  Ah, excellent question that we may now seek to answer.  When Paul encouraged Timothy to avoid these things, he obviously must be acquainted with the thing to know to avoid it.  To avoid something that is profane, vain, or false, Timothy must have first come to understand that it was either unhallowed, empty, or a lie.  To do so required him to "prove all things and hold fast that which is good."  Whenever we encounter an errant problem, we should seek to avoid it having proved that it is an errant point or position.  Sometimes others have pointed out the problem already (like Paul did with Philetus and others).  Sometimes we have to discover them ourselves.  However, when we do discover them, we must – repeat must – avoid them not only for our own deliverance but also for those who have been committed to our trust.

To get to the point of avoidance, we first reason and discuss to discover whether we are dealing with an enemy of the gospel.  In our discussion, we should argue rather than debate.  In our labours, we should follow the Scripture and give two admonitions hoping fervently that they find fruitful ground.  If they do not, we should Scripturally reject them in keeping with Paul's advice to avoid what they are promoting. (Titus 3:10) I have always found it interesting that Paul specifically lays out "first and second" when talking about this.  I used to ponder greatly why he was so specific, and then two personal examples showed me one reason why.  On two separate occasions, I have confronted men that I felt were promoting things contrary to the gospel of Christ.

In the first case, I went before the man and we reasoned together for several hours.  At the end of the session, I was still convinced that he believed what he did before, but I was even more convinced that it was an essential error that could not be tolerated in the kingdom.  When we sat down for the second discussion, he had digested some of our previous conversation.  He had a few questions, and after reasoning through those questions, he was satisfied and changed his position.  In the second case, I sat down twice with another man and each occasion was 6+ hours long.  He was as entrenched after those sessions as before, but due to my personal affection and love for the man, I decided to have a third session.  That last conversation ended up being one of the most miserable experiences of my life.  My personal attachment to the man had led me to go further than Scriptures dictated.  I found misery at the end.  The first example showed me the wisdom of the instruction in a more uplifting way.  Should we not labour more than once with a man, we might miss the renewal of fellowship, but if we press the matter – through a misguided idea of love or longsuffering – more than twice, we end up endangering ourselves or worse the flock to such erroneous ideas.

Finally, Paul did not encourage Timothy to avoid these things with the mindset of a legal eagle.  Earlier, he told Timothy that we should try to live as peaceably as we can. (I Timothy 2:1-2) When it comes to those things we must avoid, we should not cease to pray that God would bless.  Paul greatly desired that Israel be saved in their knowledge and understanding. (Romans 10:1) Whether that was his natural family, spiritual kindred, or departing brethren, Paul desired that they know what he knew.  Even though some may be beyond our reach to reason with, we can still pray for them that God reach them even though we must avoid them.  No matter how unsavory the situation or circumstance may be, we must be honorable and above reproach in all things.  Why?  God has made a deposit with us here below.  His gifts and His people should be prized above all other things.  May we earnestly stand fast, being quit like men, but doing all things with charity. (I Corinthians 16:13-14)

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (I Timothy 3:8, 11)

I Timothy 3:8, 11, "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;" "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things."

This morning, an ever-increasing rate of sin plagues the world.  As Scripture faithfully records for us, the successive generations of man show forth increased manifestation of evil deeds, with men becoming manifestly worse and worse. (II Timothy 3:13) Yet, regardless of the sliding slope of morality in the world at large, the standard of Godly conduct and moral living has not nor will ever change.  God's standard remains just as pure as ever.  God's measure stands pristine, and the door of discipleship continues to hinge upon a fervent desire to adhere to that standard more and more: better and better.  When examining what the Scriptures declare about morality and righteous living, one of the pitfalls of thinking that people sometimes fall into is that of thinking morality is relative based on the individual.  Now, the consequences can vary based on the person's knowledge (Luke 12:48), but the standard of righteousness remains the same.  Ignorance might allow for lesser consequences for transgression (the fewer stripes analogy from Luke 12), but the standard is still the same.

When examining the officers of the church (bishops/elders and deacons), what moral code are they held to?  Faithful examination of the Scriptures shows their moral requirements to mirror the faithfulness that God requires in all disciples.  Since their moral code is the same, why would God inspire so much space in the Bible to record their moral requirements?  The reason is simply stated (as Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 4:12) that officers in the church should show a good example to those within and without of good conduct and moral uprightness.  Though the standard is the same, their office is one of service, showing a good example for others to follow.  Therefore, let us examine some of the moral requirements that are penned for us in the study verses above.

The two verses above show some of the moral requirements for a deacon and his wife.  By examining the statements side by side, we can easily see that the man and his wife are held to the same code.  The difference in terminology between verses 8 and 11 defines what each means.  For example, a deacon is "not to be given to much wine," while the same statement for the wife simply says "sober."  The word "sober" defines for us what the previous statement declared for her husband.  Does this mean a complete prohibition of alcohol?  No, but it does show a complete prohibition of drunkenness.  The same could be said for all the saints that have pledged to live an honourable life before God and men.

The first phrase for both is the same: grave.  Both the deacon and his wife should show due seriousness and respect for the house of God and their lives.  Whether inside or outside the church, people should observe this couple as not given to folly but rather showing an emphasis on gravity for an honourable life.  The second phrase declares that a deacon should not be double-tongued and his wife not a slanderer.  Again, the statement for the wife shows further definition to the term "double-tongued."  Whether looking at the man or the wife, people should see honest spoken people.  They do not derive pleasure from running people down, falsifying reputations, or perhaps even acting duplicitously depending on the crowd they are around.

Since we have already examined the statement about sobriety, let us examine the last couplet of phrases that we hope to spend the majority of our time on.  The man's requirement states "not greedy of filthy lucre."  The wife's statement says "faithful in all things."  Someone who is greedy of filthy lucre is someone that desires fortune, heaps treasures to themselves, and is said to not be rich before God. (Luke 12:21) So, how does a man not being greedy of filthy lucre equate to the wife's requirement of faithfulness in all things?  In this last set of moral code requirements in our verses, we see a window into a deep, profound truth.

One of the profound truths of the Bible as it pertains to Christian conduct and Godly living is that certain things hinge or build upon other things.  In other words, without A, one never gets to B, and therefore never to C either, and so on and so forth.  In college we call classes of this kind “prerequisites.”  Without that baseline of knowledge, someone is ill-equipped to move forward in more advanced courses.  Biblically, we see that certain doctrines can never be understood without certain baselines of knowledge.  For example, one can never really appreciate the free grace of God solely by His mercy and purpose unless they have a grounded understanding of total depravity and man's utter helplessness by nature.  The knowledge of total depravity cannot rightly be understood without some understanding of original sin and the representation of the first man Adam.  Other truths in the Bible are the same way.  Christ said that without a good understanding of the parable of the sower one would never come to good understanding of any of the rest of His parables. (Mark 4:13)

Practical living and moral conduct is much the same way.  Without a firm foundation of faithfulness on certain things, we are guaranteed to fail in other things.  So, for a man and his wife to be faithful in all things, they cannot be greedy of filthy lucre.  Paul goes on this same epistle to examine this thought.  Paul freely and poignantly declares the love of money as the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6:10) The love of money (filthy lucre) is not the root of some evil but all evil.  In other words, without that foundation in place, a deacon, his wife, or any Christian for that matter is guaranteed to open the door to a wide variety and great host of immoral conduct. 

Consider the world we live in today.  By the ever-increasing pursuit of the almighty dollar, people have no time to come to church.  Jobs increasingly require weekend duty, and the love of money drives people to continue working rather than declare that church attendance is more important than a job.  Jobs increasingly require longer hours (some people even consistently working 60-70+ hours a week).  Again, there is no time to read and study the Bible, pray without ceasing, or quietly sit and meditate (walk with God) about the truly good and remarkable things that come only from above. (James 1:17) What drives this?  Love of money and discontent with a current status. 

Some see money as the means by which to propel their reputation.  The desire to be sought out by the greatest and noblest of this world makes some work feverishly to gain that standing.  Since money is their medium, they pursue it fully.  Others desire things they cannot afford but want now.  How different is our country now than a few years ago?  Much of the difference came in the form of financial collapse in certain key fields (housing being one of them).  All of this stems from a love of money, filthy lucre, and the things that it brings.  Paul said contentment with food and raiment was sufficient for the natural realm.  That contentment with those natural necessities coupled with godliness is the great gain of this world.

Should someone ever fail in the exercise of knowing the proper place of money, other pillars of moral conduct are sure to fall.  Faithfulness in all things starts with the right objective of money.  What is it?  Simply put, we should see it as a medium of exchange whereby the necessary goods of life are transferred.  Any higher importance put upon it leads down the slope of "love of money."  Again, these requirements in the deacon and his wife should simply be to "show the way" for other followers of Christ to walk in like manner.  This is the requirement for all. 

While I am not a student of history to the degree that many are, I have studied sufficiently to pick up a real gem from church history.  In olden times (particularly during the frontier days of America), many people had to do business on credit.  For farmers particularly, credit had to be doled out for life's necessities until the crops came in.  In those days, church goers (particularly Old Baptists) were always given the necessary credit for the things they needed.  Reason being: the common knowledge and report was that Primitive Baptists (or in that day simply Baptists) were "always good for it."  There was a reputation of faithfulness in finances to pay off lawful debts.  May it always be said of bishops, deacons, yea of all of us that we are faithful in all things beginning with our faithful handling of money.

In Hope,

Bro Philip