July 23, 2023

1 Timothy- A Pastor's Manual for the Household of God

Speaker: David Jordan Series: Journey Through the Bible Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:1– 6:21

Download the 1 Timothy Bible Journal Outline

Well, this morning, the message is an overview of 1 Timothy. We only have about 12 or 13 books to go, and then we'll have finished the entire Bible. This book is called 1 Timothy, and the title of the message is “A Pastor's Manual for the Household of God.”

AI is in the news all the time -- that stands for artificial intelligence. It is said soon that AI will be so much smarter than a human (which isn't even a question) that you won't be able to tell if you're talking with a person on the phone or with AI. In fact, they're already taking samples of people's voices, and you can replicate someone to say anything you want them to say with their own voice. You won't be able to tell if a painting was made by a man or a woman or AI. You can tell now; they all look pretty weird. You can just go on one of these chat websites where AI is running the show, and say, “Make me a picture of this,” and in a second, a picture that has never been created before will pop up based on what you request.

In fact, some pastors are starting to use AI. Can you imagine what they would use it for -- to write sermons. And soon you won't be able to tell if the sermon was made by AI or a person -- if you're at a bad church. Already, AI in machine learning-enabled technologies, which we have some in that business, are used in medicine, transportation, robotics, science, education, the military, surveillance (your favorite), finance and regulation, agriculture, entertainment, retail, customer service, and manufacturing. In fact, you've already used AI this morning. If you have picked up your phone, you've used artificial intelligence when you're trying to complete a text, and it's forcing you to say a word: that is machine learning trying to figure out what you as an individual will say next.

Of course, one of the biggest uses of AI are the algorithms that predict what they think you should see on social media. So, if you think a topic is all in the news, and all the news outlets have the same perspective on that particular news story, you're just seeing a feed that’s showing you what you want to see. Look at somebody else's news feed who thinks completely differently than you do, and all they're gonna see is 100 news outlets saying the very opposite. And yes, there's normally only about two or three perspectives on any story in the whole country. AI is helping to make this possible. And the more we scroll, the more we encourage it.

Older generations think, “Well, we didn't have to deal with that.” Well, we just had humans figuring out exactly what commercials you wanted to see at what time of day. So, I used to be in commercials, and we knew the audiences incredibly well just based on what show at what time of day you were watching. We could predict how old you were, what products you purchased, and how likely you were to purchase a product during that TV show. So, we just transfered this knowledge to AI.

Yet for all its power, there is one area of life that artificial intelligence will never succeed in, ever -- and that is an understanding the Holy Word of God. You see, we need the Holy Spirit to understand the Word of God. AI is by its definition “artificial.” There is no Holy Spirit there. There is no spiritual discernment. And as you know, quoting 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” No matter how much the world tries to take over and manufacture things, they will never be able to manufacture the comprehension of the spiritual truths that are spiritually discerned.

The Gospel as we know it is not simply transferred from one person to another as though you just need to hear the information. And when our feet are slow to engage with the Word of God, that's normally what we slip into. We think, “Oh, I've already heard that. I already know that. I don't need to learn that anymore.” But what we have in the church are Spirit-filled people communicating spiritually discerned truths, Spirit-filled people communicating spiritually discerned truths. AI, in a sense, is no different from an unbeliever who cannot understand these things.

When you look at a book like 1 Timothy, and you see the title of a message called “A Manual for the Church,” you think, “Ah, this is just a set of instructions. All I need to do is try and understand the words and the set of instructions, and then our church and my life will be fine.” But that misses the whole point: that we are indeed, as believers, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that we, ourselves, cannot understand a single truth of God's Word without the Holy Spirit helping us to understand those things. So, when Paul writes to Timothy -- his apprentice, his protégé, the one that he would send out to church regions to help them -- he knew that Timothy needed to understand not just a set of guidelines, a “Robert's Rules of Order,” if you know what that is. He needed to understand that there was a stewardship of faith that drove the church. And in that stewardship of faith, you had a message; you had leadership, and you had a ministry. Or if you want three “M’s”: you had a message, ministers and ministry.

As we look here, look in 1 Timothy chapter one, verse five. Paul just tells us what the aim of all these instructions is. He says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Love, a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faith -- those are four things AI will never comprehend. As we consider this letter called 1 Timothy, let's remember that it promotes, as chapter one, verse four says, “a stewardship from God that is by faith.” You see, we can never separate the knowledge from the heart practice. And if we do, we will be like the church in Ephesus -- Timothy's in Ephesus leading this church. We will end up being like the church spoken of in Revelation that has left its first love and is threatened by God to be removed.

Let me tell you a little bit about Timothy; he was no superstar. Timothy was led to Christ by Paul on Paul's first missionary journey. By his second journey, Paul asked Timothy to accompany him on his travels. Timothy was young; he was probably in his late teens or early 20s. Church, would you be okay if someone in their late teens was leading you? Let's just say you're older than 20. Would you be okay with that person? Let's say they're 18 -- teaching a conference to you on marriage, or interpersonal relationships and communication, and finances in the home, or dealing with anxiety and depression and lifelong struggles. If your answer to any of those things is a little unsettling, then you would be a little unsettled with Paul's direction for Timothy to lead the churches. See, he was a young man. You can think of many other young men in church history who are leading the church. Charles Spurgeon started at 16, right, one of the greatest preachers ever.

But the goal of a preacher is not to figure out what the best pragmatic advice is. The goal of a preacher is to communicate the very words of God. And you're good with that. Right? We're good with that. I got a couple more head nods there. You see, Timothy ministered with Paul in Berea, in Athens, in Corinth, in Jerusalem. He ministered with him in all those places. Through thick and thin, he followed him all over the world. And Hebrews chapter 13, verse 23, even shows that Timothy was imprisoned at one point. He is mentioned in at least seven of Paul's letters by name, and he was the representative of Paul in certain regions of the world. Currently, as we pick up this letter that Paul wrote to his young protege, Timothy is stationed as the pastor in the church in Ephesus. And if you've studied the book of Ephesians, you know that probably Timothy was the leader of the entire Ephesian region, all over. Anyone who would call themselves as part of the city of Ephesus, which had many churches, Timothy was the leader of all of those churches.

So how does a young man, who is arguably three or four times younger than many people he would be communicating with, how does he find his way? How does he come to the point where he's doing the work of a good servant of the Lord? How does that come about in his life? And how does that come about in his mind? Chapter four, verse six, Paul says to Timothy, “If you put these things before the brothers [that is, before the brothers and sisters of the church], you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” Paul lays out in this little, tiny epistle that you can read in 10 minutes; he lays out what it is that pastors should strive for and churches should strive for as they seek to live holy lives as the people of God.

This letter, if you look at your Bible journal, hopefully you got one of these things. See the pictures of a young man there: he probably should even look a little younger. The chapter overview in the middle there will follow our outline: the message of the church, the leaders of the church, and the ministry of the church. Grace Bible Church, this is what we want. We want a biblical message. We want biblical leaders, and we want biblical ministry to drive everything that we do. And 1 Timothy will give us that.

I was at an event one time, where I met a wealthy businessman. And when he found out I was a pastor (as he used to be until he started making a lot of money), he asked me a question. He said, “Oh, what's your church about?” What's your church about? And it took me by surprise, I thought the answer was obvious, especially to somebody who was a pastor. That's kind of like saying at high noon, “Where's the sun?” So, I said, “Well, we preach Christ and make disciples.” And he kind of did the little eye-roll thing and switched the subject, like, “oh, isn't that nice.” You see, what he was really asking is: what's the angle your church takes to bring in as many people as possible? That's what success is in our world today. It is a church that is just constantly filled, and there's nothing wrong with big churches any more than there are little churches, right. They're made up of humans. But the idea is that he was asking is: you have to kind of find an angle, that's not stated in Scripture, in order to get people to submit to Scripture. And he was dead serious. Well, this businessman was right in one regard: we must know what the message of the church is. And Paul was no different.

So, he starts out the book of 1 Timothy, making sure Timothy knows the message. And this is point one: “the message of the church.” Look in chapter one, verse three. He's going to tell Timothy, “Don't change the doctrine,” the “doctrine” being the truths that we teach. He says, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” Now, why would he start out a letter about the church, talking about the division that doctrine causes if that's a bad thing? There were so many churches, especially through the 90s and the early 2000s, the favorite phrase was “doctrine divides,” right? And as I've said before, “Yes, the sheep from the goats,” right. So, Paul here starts out a Holy Spirit inspired letter saying, “You have to set the doctrine and charge people not to teach anything different.”

The church is always under pressure to change its doctrine. If you come to the movie tonight, you will see that: sometimes in little ways and sometimes in big ways, sometimes with harmless ideas, sometimes with life-altering ideas. I've been asked before to change the doctrine that we need some women teaching (just like the men are) to teach the whole church and to teach mixed groups. And as you'll see in 1 Timothy, that is forbidden. So, the pressure that he's talking about here is actually within the church. The pressure on Timothy was from people who wanted to teach but didn't know what they were talking about.

Look in verse seven of chapter one, “desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” You know when you're talking in front of people, they can pick out in a moment's notice if you're not really sure about what you're saying. Yes, I realize you're gonna do that the whole sermon now. But I also know you did that last week, too, right. We come up here, and we know we have to be confident. It's like a good car salesman: you just need to give a quick answer. That means that you know what you're talking about. You can't waver or waffle. But here, people are desiring to be teachers of the law. Where would they do that? They would do that within the church. They would be among the church people. They would not be outside the church; they would be within the church, and they would desire to teach the law.

Now, you'll see later in chapter three, that elders are called to teach, and they are supposed to be able to teach, and that's a noble task. Right? So, it's not teaching that is noble or un-noble, in a sense, but it's the motivations to teach. These people don't want to go through the rigors of understanding what it says before they start teaching. Why is this dangerous? It's dangerous because wrong teaching leads to wrong thinking. And wrong thinking leads to wrong living.

Look in verse nine of chapter one. Paul calls wrong living “unholy and profane.” In verse 10, he lists things that this wrong living leads to. You see, we think the assault on sexual purity is new, but Paul warns against that in verse 10. We think that homosexuality in the church is new, but Paul warned against that in AD 62 when this letter was written (sometime around then, right). Our Lord had just ascended to the throne, some 30 years before and already, there are people who want to teach the law who would be leading people to these lifestyles, ignorantly even, but leading them to that. And Paul is saying immediately to Timothy, this is profane and unholy. And if you're sleeping around, you are profaning the name of God. It you are in a relationship like that with someone else, you are called by God's Word “unholy”. Do you see why this is so important to the church, the bride of Christ, the one that we're supposed to present without blemish or spot according to Ephesians five? You see, like many other churches out there, we will fight the good fight of faith.

Chapter six, verse 12, calls it a “fight”. And he calls all of these lifestyles that come from bad living and bad doctrine (and just, “oh, it'll all work out some way”), he calls those in chapter one, verse 10 that which is “contrary to sound doctrine”. Doctrine leads to thinking, thinking leads to living. And through those choices, we figure out: are we fighting the good fight of faith, or have we equivocated to, not the culture outside, but the culture that seeks to change the church from the inside? You say, “That sounds like quite the struggle.” Well, the good part about that is that we don't have to come up with a new message. The message is already there written down for us. You say, “Yes, okay, so the message is there. But should we really say those things from the pulpit? I mean, that makes us a little uneasy?” Well, most churches have people who are living that way, maybe in their minds, and so it's a sin just of the heart. Or maybe they're living that way physically. And they try and say, “Well, God will understand. I'm forgiven for that.” And we also have some churches that don't ever preach against that. And so, you have people who think they're right with God, but he actually sees them as profane. You say, “That's gonna take a long fight.” Well, you're right.

Look in chapter six, verse 14, and that will tell us how long do we have to fight the good fight? How long? We are “to keep the commandments unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That's all -- just until the Lord Jesus returns. Church, that's our call. That's our commission, is to not just worry about all the details of life and set the doctrine aside. No, the doctrine is what spurs on holy, righteous living. And if you've lived that way, the good news is you can be forgiven. And if you're a believer and you slid into those things (or jumped into those things, more accurately), you can be forgiven. And you can stop living that way, any moment you like, by the power of God.

Paul goes over, we don't have time to go over every verse, obviously, in 1 Timothy, but he says his life is a testimony to the patience of God. He says, “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor of the church. But my life, my very life,” Paul says, “is an example of the patience of God.” So do not think that you will outlast the patience of God in your sin, that you are too far gone. There is no such thing. God's forgiveness is complete. And all that we need to do is allow him to live through us, to ask him for forgiveness, and to live holy and righteous lives for Jesus Christ alone. Amen? You say that sounds that sounds great. But what can I do about it? I mean, it's not just changed me. Yes, it starts with me, but how do we how do we change the tendency of the church? How do we change all that is going on?

Well, look in chapter two, verse one. Paul hits the nail on the head here, and he gives us a way to put this message of the church into practice, and I think you'll find it inviting. He says in chapter two, verse one: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications [that's request], supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

Can you pray, church? You can pray when you're at work, on the way to work, on the way home from work. If you have a lot of traffic that you're in, you probably already do this a lot: praying for God to forgive the people who cut you off, right? But we can pray in the morning, afternoon, in the evening. Dustin just read for us a passage in Acts: the man was praying at the ninth hour -- that's three in the afternoon. Okay, that that was a regular thing; he's praying in the middle of the afternoon. If you need help learning to pray, you can look on our website and our YouTube page. There's 30 ways to pray biblically on our website; that can get you going. And then you can look on our YouTube page, and I did a series of about 11 or 12 videos, leading you through how to pray each and every day of your lives, to pray biblically.

I know you already pray. I know you already pray for our leaders. You can't be alive and a believer without praying for our leaders. Every single month, something comes up and “Lord Jesus, please help us,” right. “Help us with what's going on, no matter who's in leadership.” Right? But Paul says this is not just something we should do. He says it's a matter of first importance. Isn't that what it says there? That it's a matter of first importance? In chapter two verse one: “First of all, then, I urge” you to pray and to make “thanksgiving for all people.” Not just to pray, but “Lord God, thank you for this person.” Do you add that to your prayers for our leadership? For me and for Adam? For those who are leading ministries in the church? Do you add that to your political prayers, right? Not just for their salvation but “Thank you for what you have given us.”

Those are clarifying thoughts. Can we be thankful for God's plan being worked out in society -- that's what that means. That you can be thankful for what God is bringing; pray for change if you want. But it's really, really important. In fact, it is vital. When I first came to Grace Bible Church, it was big in revitalization circles, to have, you know, some pillars that you would stand on. Paul calls the church the “pillar and buttress of the truth” here in 1 Timothy, so he would have pillars. Well, one of our pillars, from the very get go about 10 years ago, was vital prayer, vital prayer. When you take part in prayer, for the church, for the leaders of the church, for the leaders of this world that the Lord Jesus has created, you are taking part in what is vital to the holiness of the church. If you want to be part of bringing the church into greater avenues and greater eras of holiness, then just pray. Prayer is God's design to keep the message and to spread the message.

So, in chapter two, verse five, Paul lapses into these summaries of the gospel all throughout this book, and then you'll see he lapses into doxologies. There's three or four closings in 1 Timothy when you read it, and you think, “Oh, the book’s done, but I see there's more.” He's just praising God for who he is. Look in chapter two, verse five: this is the message, church. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” You'll hear this phrase “the testimony.”

So, the message of that testimony, like the one Jesus gave before Pontius Pilate, is the gospel. It's the confession of salvation through Christ alone. It's the same confession that we need to make. And I don't know where every one of you are at with our Lord Jesus Christ, but you need to know that there is no other God, in heaven or earth, besides the one true, holy and living God. There is no other way to be saved except through Jesus Christ. He is the one mediator between God and man, no matter how many church religions try and call other people mediators between you and God, it's just the Lord Jesus Christ.

And no matter what you've done; no matter what you've thought; no matter how you think God has made you; no matter if you think you could ever be used by God or not; no matter if you think, “Oh, my life is over. I can't go on in this pattern of sin,” you can be set free from that pattern of sin right now. You can be forgiven completely from every sin that you've ever thought, or done, or will do. That's the power that comes through Jesus Christ. And He gave himself as a ransom for all. That's the testimony we need to hear. Church, that's the doctrine we need to spread. And that's the doctrine we need to protect. So, point one, so far, which covers the first two chapters, is that Paul wanted Timothy to know the message of the church. That's the message -- the gospel.

Second, the next question a church must answer is: who should lead and serve the church? And there is no more terrifying section in Scripture for pastors than this, and what's in Titus: the qualifications for elders. Let me read the whole thing to you. Chapter three, verse one: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. [Here come the approximately 15 qualifications.] Therefore, an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

That's all. Who wants to sign up? First of all, let me be very clear -- you must be a man. Amen? Okay, good. Just making sure that you're at the right church this Sunday. He must be a man who manages his own household well. That's terrifying if you have children, very terrifying. Because children will let you know what they think: how well you're doing, how poorly you're doing. And if you say, “go this way,” they go that way, sometimes, right? And you think, I don't think this is what he means by “well,” “managing his household well,” and it causes pause. This is not a list to aspire to. This is a list that you must adhere to.

Many people have asked me, now that we have myself and one other elder, “Are you looking for other elders?” Just read that list and you can help me look, okay. And there are godly men who are fantastic teachers. But a man must aspire to the office of overseer, and the better teachers know this passage. And they know that is a difficult task, as well as a noble task. So, if you want to be an elder, those are your qualifications. See also the book of Titus and 1 Peter, chapter five. An “elder” is what we call our pastors. An elder is one who leads, teaches, shepherds, and prays for the church. It sets the bar high, because we're not just leading men, women and children; we're leading, “the household of God.”

And if you see that list, and you think, “I think I've got it,” please do not apply. If you see that list, and you're terrified, and others encourage you to apply, then apply. Most people say, “Who could ever live up to that list? That's just hyperbole in Scripture.” I do not think you want to hold the position that because a list requires holiness, that it's hyberbole in Scripture. I remember the first time I took this list seriously, I moved from the “No one could ever do it. Let's just do the best we can” to the “Oh, no, this is real” -- that shift.

And so, I remember taking a journal of mine and the Bible (it was a paper copy), and I remember going to an ice cream shop in California. Right? When you got to work things out theologically, you want some ice cream around. And I thought to myself, as I looked over all the qualifications, and I read through Titus, “Who would ever want to subject their life to that? I mean, I think I'll just teach on the side. Why would I want to leave my career for that?” You wonder why there's a lack of pastors. I think it's because the schools are starting to take the list seriously, again. Why would I want to leave the career I had worked at least 15 years to build, finally got to where I wanted to go. And then think, “Am I even remotely qualified?”

Over and over again, day after day, I would look at those passages. I would circle words. “I don't think that's me. Is this even a good idea?” If you're breathing, you're not perfect. Right? That's down here; that's Humanity 101. Right? We all know that. That is not a way to get into adhering to this list. Only Jesus is perfect. And even more than this, pastors are called to set an example. I’m telling you this; you think it's hard for me to say, but think about Timothy -- his teacher was the Apostle Paul. He's leading the church Paul started; he was saved because of Paul's testimony. Now he's following him around. You think the expectations for me are high, they're nothing compared to what they were for Timothy. You just go into this pagan-rich culture, and you preach the Word of God; they might flog you to death. For me, they're just going to unfollow my social account or something or go to another church. That's not difficult.

And he was young. You know the verse, first Timothy 4:12: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers in example.” Right? He was probably by this time, after following Paul around for so long, he could have been around 30, before becoming the pastor. So, “set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” In purity, not “im-purity,” “in purity.” Gotta get my diction right, here. But why would someone choose the fishbowl? You're probably thinking, “That's a great question.” Right? Paul answers that question. It is not ambiguous to anyone who has ever stepped foot in seminary, tried seminary, or tried to teach in the church.

It's terrifying on Sunday morning. And you get up and you're invigorated; you love to teach, and then you think, “I just tried to communicate something that was perfect. Why would anybody ever jump in that fishbowl for life?” Chapter four, verse 10. Look there if you would. “For to this end, we toil and strive, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” Our hope is set on the living God. It's not set on mankind, on me. My hope and the survival of this church -- this might be a surprise -- is not set on me. We'd be gone already. It's not set on Adam. It's not set on the ministry leaders. It's not set on the people who serve. It's set on the living God. And if our hope is in our pastor, right, or our favorite leader, then our hope, biblically, is misplaced.

It's set on the living God. That's the only reason. That's the only reason why fallible people try and serve an infallible God and His infallible Word, and teach his beautiful bride, the church. Well, obviously, I became pastor, so know that part of the story. But I'm no different than any other believer in the sense that I have set my hope on God. I just want to ask you, church, where is your hope in life? Where is your hope, legitimately, in life. We have a lot of things that cause us to think twice. A lot of things that can cause us to get depressed or down or have a little bit of lethargy towards the work of the ministry. Things that cause us, “I don't really want to go and be trained more, I don't want to hear another lesson. I just want to recharge,” as if recharging is antithetical to the teaching of God's Word.

But we all want to be a good servant of Christ Jesus, right? I do, you do. Believers, we want to be thought of by God as serving him well. Chapter four, verse six, Paul explains to Timothy what that looks like. “If you [that is, Timothy] put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” -- not trained by TikTok, not trained by your favorite news outlet, or your favorite person who already believes everything you do anyway -- trained by the words of the faith and the good doctrine. Our lives should be centered on the Word of God, which is centered on the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is where our joy comes from. And whenever it's centered on something else, your life is going to hit obstacles, fast.

Timothy was under attack from within the church (people who wanted to be teachers who shouldn't be); he was under attack from the culture. He was considered a young man. If he was 30, that was the first year he would have been allowed to have a public testimony at the city gates. Everything was strained for him. But Timothy, “if you put these words, these things, before the people, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus.” Notice, it says nothing about the size of the church. It says nothing about “teach the families to have personal devotions.” Some of the idols that are good that we raise up, right. It says, “Teach them these things, Timothy.” For him, as a pastor, his focus was the doctrine and the communication of the doctrine to the church. In fact, he wanted him to be fully devoted to Scripture.

That’s why, on the back of the office there, my office, it says over the door, it doesn't say “pastor's office.” I'm tempted to let you all go back and see what it says. It says, “pastor’s study.” That wasn't my idea. That was other pastors who've gone before me that says, “You're not a businessman. You're a student of God and a teacher of his Word. So, your office needs to be a study, because that's what you do.” Notice in chapter four, verse 15, Timothy is to practice the things that he's learned -- practice them and to be immersed in them, immersed in them. If Timothy is constantly taking care of every detail of the church, then there is no way he can be immersed in the doctrine, and no way he can be practicing the doctrine as a way of life as a teacher.

So whatever church anyone goes to, they should want their pastor to be fully immersed in the study and the practice of the Word of God. So, ministers should be preaching the Word, practicing the Word. And these things, he says, should be evident to all. So, he should be progressing in the Word. And of course, that's what all people should be, right -- sharing the word, “go and make disciples.” That's not just for pastors, right? Practicing the word, like Ezra all the way back in the book of Nehemiah chapter 8. He's set his heart to study, practice and teach the Word, and God blessed him. And progressing in the word -- we should not be, at any moment in our lives, able to look back and say, “Wow, I had a better spiritual time of life three years ago.” We should always be moving forward and progressing.

And if you feel like you're spiritually stagnant, please reach out to someone in the church. It could be to myself or Adam; it could be to anyone who you see as maturely studying the Word, putting the Word into practice and making progress. There's so many people here who can help you, but I would encourage you not to do these things alone, not to do them alone. All of us feel weak at times, including myself, and we need the strength that the church provides. In that vein, it wasn't just elders that Timothy needed to know about, he needed to have deacons.

Deacons, and I’ll summarize this, but deacons are not just people who serve the church, in general. Deacons are people who serve the church to alleviate the work of the ministry from the elders. That's a deacon. A deacon is someone that you could call on, who would gladly go visit people, who would gladly have the spiritual discernment to teach scripture. If you look at Acts chapter six, the prototype of a deacon passage, where Stephan gives a history of the church under the stress and threat of death; he can communicate God's word as good as any elder, right? So, a deacon doesn't have to be required to be able to teach, but he does need to know the Word of God well enough to apply it to the lives of others. So, deacons are those who minister to the church, so that it frees up the elders.

So, point one, Timothy knew the church's message. Point two, he knew who should lead and serve. But now, how does he deal with the people? Right? “Here's the church. Here's the steeple, we'll open it up. And here's all the people,” right? Normally, churches get divided from within. It's not the pressure from without. And so, Paul wanted him, also, to know about the ministry of the church. This is a really good section that I'm going to have to do in an overview fashion. But he starts out in chapter five, verses one and two, for this young Timothy: how do you deal with older saints -- the older men of the church -- how do you even speak to them? He tells him.

How do you speak to the older women of the church? Right? He tells him, and then he goes, in this longer section, about how to treat widows. And the 30-year-old or so, is telling widows how to behave. He had better get that right, or he's gonna get chewed up and spit out, right? Widows? That was the same situation that developed deacons in the first place in Acts six, where there were arguing factions of widows about who was getting more food. And the leaders, the pastors, said, “Well, we don't have time to handle that. So, choose from among yourself seven men who can do this.” Right? Let somebody else handle it. They had to be spiritually mature. So, as he learns to deal with widows and who to take care of them, and should their family take care of them. Should they be even enrolled? It talks about their age. How old do they need to be to be enrolled in the widow program that they had? He goes over all of that for Timothy. Church, you need to know that, because we have widows here who need taken care of, who meet all of these qualifications.

He then goes in chapter five, verse 17 (every pastor knows verses 17 and 18). Just read that quickly, you'll see why. That's how to pay your pastors. And then he also talks about in verse 19 of chapter five, of how to protect your pastors or how to protect your elders. And then he ends 1 Timothy talking about money and contentment. I mean, this letter is so packed; it is so packed. Money can make people do weird things, can it not? I mean, it makes us do weird things at times. Money can make a rich person cry, and it can make a poor person cry. When the stock market goes down significantly, just call the wealthiest person you know, and ask them, “How's your day going?” They will know that stock market dropped. Okay, they know, and they're gonna have a tough day. Right? Because they probably just lost 30% of their fortune.

But it can also make a poor person cry. Have you ever given someone who's in need a meal -- someone you don't know, someone who can't pay you back? Have you ever given them a meal? They will start tearing up. The one thing I do like about the social media now is those videos are all over the place. You can watch just random strangers go up to people that they don't know, and they will give them money; they will give them food. And then they'll just walk away. Obviously, it's to get their viewership going. I know that. But it's also to bless those in society who need help. And Timothy needed to know that.

So, look, in chapter six, verse nine. He warns him about money. “But those who desire to be rich [now just in your mind, say, ‘That's me’ or ‘That's not me,’ okay] But those who desire to be rich, fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” It didn't say rich people fall into ruin and destruction, did it, in verse nine? Because I know that's what you heard. Right? It said that those who desire to be rich. You can be as poor as anything, but just the desire to be rich is enough to plunge your life into ruin and destruction. And then, of course, he has many charges for those who are already rich as well.

But some people are incredibly gifted at making money. They're just good at it. They look at a business idea, and it brings them more money. And you wish you were like that until you ask them how stressful their lives are. But some people are just gifted by God to be that way. And many of them bless the church abundantly. They bless the church, and they know other people who have a godly demeanor, they have a godly life, and they're insanely wealthy, and they give a lot of money to the church.

Those who aren't good at making money are verse nine: they desire to be like that, and trying to be like that they fall into ruin. God hasn't gifted you to make a lot of money. God's put you in with most of us, right, just the normal status quo of life. But our desires are, “Ooh, I'm gonna make a lot of money, so I can” what?: “give it to the church.” That's the tell-tale sign that your ambition needs to be checked. Right? Because generous people are generous no matter how much they make, right? You can be generous and give 10 bucks. It blows me away. The folks who don't make hardly anything, not because of bad choices (where they just got a giant mountain of debt and they can't give anything), but those who are doing life well, they're following God, they're pursuing God, and God has just made other people bless them financially, but they themselves are not blessed. And yet they still give. It's an incredible testimony to their love of God.

And in case you're wondering, if you live within 30 minutes of here, you are the rich. You're like, “No, no, no, no, that's not me.” How many devices do you have? Right? $1,000 devices that you're probably still paying on? Right? How many TVs do you have? I mean, how big does a TV need to be? Right? I mean, how much clarity does it need? If you own a 4K TV, do you know that like 2% of all programming can actually be shown in 2K, something like that? We’ll have to ask some of you gurus in here about that. But most of the programming can't even show you the beauty that you just purchased, let alone the gigantic 8K stuff, right? In about 10 years, they're gonna laugh at those numbers. “Oh, 4K and 8K. Those poor people had to watch such crummy images.”

But verse 17 does hit the rich. “As for [in chapter six] as for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Money's not bad. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. But money is not bad. God has blessed many of you with the ability to use your finances to bless the church. No matter where you're at in the amount, he has blessed us to give to the church. And the message for the rich person is, surprisingly, the same as the message for the poor person. Set your hope on God. Set your hope on the living God -- not on who you are, not on your skills, not on what you can give, not on what deals you're going to close. You know those eight deals you're going to close this afternoon, not on all those. Set your hope on the living God.

Don't you just love God's Word? It is so simple, and so direct, and so clear. 1 Timothy 6:12, as we conclude: “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you are called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” God wants us to take hold of the eternal life that he has said. That means press on to what God has set before you. Right? Not that we've already attained it, but we press on to make it our own. You keep the message pure. You pray for the church, and the ministers, and the leaders. And you work to have a biblical ministry, and that's what church life is all about. What a joy it is to see God's people marshaled for God's purpose.

Let's pray. Lord God, we thank you for building your church with us, with people who need forgiveness, with people who need help. We thank you, Lord God, for building your church with the fellowship of believers, with the young and the old, with those who have pursued God for five years, and those who have pursued God for 50 years. We thank you for the blessing it is to fellowship among one another. Lord God, we pray that you would help us to live holy and righteous lives. We pray that you would lead us by your Spirit. And I pray that you would help us to fight the good fight of faith.

Lord God, you know everyone here, where they're at with you. I pray that you would help those who don't know you to give their lives to you right now, to confess their sin, and ask you for forgiveness. Lord, I pray for those who are here and who believe and trust in you already, that Lord, you would help us to fight the good fight. And let's just take a moment now and pray to our God and ask him to help us to fight the fight for his glory. God, we love you. I’m so thankful, Lord, for everyone here, the people that you have brought. May you help us to live holy lives for your glory and by your grace. In your precious name, Amen.