Afternoon Sermon: How Is The Sabbath To Be Sanctified?, Baptist Catechism 65, Leviticus 23:3

Baptist Catechism 65

Q. 65. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days, and spending the time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy. (Lev. 23:3; Isa. 58:13,14; Isa. 66:23; Matt. 12:11,12)

Scripture Reading: Leviticus 23:3

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.” (Leviticus 23:3, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

The Sabbath is a very important theme that runs throughout the pages of Holy Scripture. It was instituted by God at creation. The people of God kept it even before the Ten Commandments were given to Israel on Sinai (see Exodus 16:22ff.) Israel was commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy. This law is at the heart of the Ten Commandments, which is rightly called a summary of God’s moral law. Christ kept the Sabbath himself, and he taught his disciples about the proper observance of it. Tell me, if Christ had intended to throw the Sabbath into the trash bin of history, why would he say so much about its proper observance? And the early church kept the Sabbath. They rested and assembled for worship one day out of seven. They assembled for worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the day that Christ rose from the dead, entered into rest and inaugurated the new creation. This is the Christian Sabbath. And the writer to the Hebrews expressly says “there remains a Sabbath rest [Sabbath-keeping] for the people of God…” (Hebrews 4:9, ESV). The Sabbath will find its fulfillment in the new heavens and new earth. There we will enter into the fulness of the rest that Christ the second Adam has earned for us.

All of that is review. And all of that could be greatly expanded upon if we had the time. In fact, we have studied the Lord’s Day Sabbath in detail before, and I trust that we will have an opportunity to consider it in detail again in the future. But for now, I hope you are convinced that the Lord’s Day Sabbath is to be kept by the people of God even today. The fourth commandment still stands. In other words, when we fail to keep the fourth commandment we do in fact sin against God. Do you believe this? I hope you do. 

But now the question is, what are we to do on the Lord’s Day Sabbath? How are we to set it apart as holy unto the Lord. Baptist Catechism 65 is a very helpful summary of the scriptures teaching on this point. Again, “The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days, and spending the time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.” 

You will notice that neither the scriptures, nor our catechism, provide us with a detailed list of dos and don’ts for the Sabbath day. The Pharisees did that. And Christ rebuked them for it, especially when their lists went beyond or contradicted the teaching of Holy Scripture. And neither do I think that we should make detailed lists of dos and don’ts for one another. It is better to teach the principles and to let each person and family decide how exactly to keep the day. There are obvious violations, of course. And we will address those. But there is also room for differences in application. 

Let us now consider Baptist Catechism 65 

*****

Baptist Catechism 65

It teaches that “the Sabbath is to be sanctified…” This means that the Sabbath day, which is now Sunday (as we learned last week) is to be set apart and treated as holy. In fact, this was established at creation. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:1–3, ESV). And the fourth of the Ten Commandments requires this, saying, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, ESV). The other days of the week are common days. We are of course to be holy on those days as well. But the days are common. They are for common things. Things like common work and recreation. But the Sabbath day is a holy day. It is set apart for holy things, principally worship — public and even private worship. 

So, “the Sabbath is to be sanctified…”and then we read “by…” By what? What are we to do on this day? “The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting…” The Sabbath day is a day of rest, but it is not a day of inactivity, as we will soon see. On the Sabbath day, we are to rest from certain common things so that we might devote ourselves to certain holy activities. 

If your view of the Sabbath is that it is a day for sleeping in or napping, I’m afraid you have missed the point. The Sabbath day is for you. God intended for us to find rest, enjoyment, and refreshment on this day. But we will find true rest, enjoyment, and refreshment on the Sabbath day only when we recognize that it is, above all, a holy day — a day to worship and to take our rest in God. 

Next, notice the words “all that day”. It is the Lord’s Day, not the Lord’s hour or morning. Break the habit, brothers and sisters, of running off from church in the morning to common things. The whole day is to be kept holy unto the Lord. Go from public worship to private worship. Go to the enjoyment of your family and speak of the things of God. Have brothers and sisters into your home and speak of the things of God. Read your Bible. Read good books about the Christian faith. Take a nap if you need one so that you might be strengthened for the rest of the day and the week to come. Treat the whole day as holy, dear brethren, and see how truly refreshed you will be. 

“The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employment and recreations as are lawful on other days”, our catechism says. In other words, we are to cease from our regular, common work and our regular, common recreation, not because they are sinful (I hope they are not!), but because they are not fitting for the day. Regular and common work and recreation is for the other six days, but not the Sabbath day. 

Does God care about what you do on the other six days of the week? Of course he does! We are to worship and serve him on those days too! And we are to work diligently on those days so that we might in fact keep the Sabbath. But on the Sabbath, we are to set those common things aside. The Sabbath day is not a day for common work or common recreation. It is to be kept holy.

So, we are to rest. We are to set aside worldly things (worldly means common here, not sinful). But what are we to do. We are to “[spend] the time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship…” This means, one,  that we are to assemble with God’s people for corporate and public worship. The Sabbath was always for this. In Leviticus 23:3 we read, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places” (Leviticus 23:3, ESV). What is a “convocation”? It is a formal assembly of people. So what were the Old Covenant saints to do on the weekly Sabbath day? They were to hold a “holy convocation”. In other words, they were to assemble for worship. Does that sound familiar to you? It should. The writer to the Hebrews spoke to New Covenant saints saying, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV).

I’m afraid that many modern Christians take this to mean, I really shouldn’t miss going to church… too often. Or, I can miss church, but I should at least get together with my Christian friend from time to time for… “fellowship”. I think it means something different. I think it means (quite clearly in the context of Hebrews, and in light of the rest of scripture), do not ever neglect to assemble with God’s people to worship God’s name on God’s appointed day. In fact, when you do, you break God’s law. In other words, you sin — sin being “any [failure to conform] unto, or transgression of, the law of God” (Baptist Catechism 17).

Perhaps at this point you are thinking, he sounds like a legalist. But I might reply to you saying, I don’t think you know what legalism is. And, you might be guilty of lawlessness (antinomianism). The law is good, brothers and sisters. Have you forgotten what Paul wrote to Timothy? “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully…” (1 Timothy 1:8, ESV). And have you forgot the words of Christ, how he spoke to his disciples saying, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15, ESV)?

Now, if I said, keep the Sabbath to earn eternal life, then I would be guilty of legalism. But I have not said that. I have taught you to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. This you must do, for you have violated God’s law. You (and I) have failed to keep the Sabbath day holy. But Christ never did. He kept it purely, perfectly, and perpetually. And though he had no guilt of his own, he died on the cross to pay the sins of others. Trust in him alone, and not in your own works-righteousness. But having believed upon Christ — because you love him and are grateful for his sacrifice made on your behalf — obey him. Keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. In them there is goodness, life, and peace.

Now one question remains. Are there any exceptions? Is there ever a time when it is right to work on the Lord’s Day Sabbath or to neglect to assemble with the people of God for worship. Answer: yes. “Except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.” 

What are works of necessity? They are not the things that you forgot to do on Saturday that can wait till Monday. But as you know, there are some things that simply must be done because they are necessary. You may cook on the Sabbath day and clean up after the meal. You may help a neighbor who is in need. Perhaps their car won’t start. Help them. You do not violate the Sabbath when you do. And some work jobs that are absolutely necessary in a continual sense. Criminals do not observe the Sabbath. Police officers must work. The same can be said of emergency room doctors, nurses, and even water district employees. You get the point, don’t you?

And what are works of mercy? These are acts of kindness shown to those who are in need. Do you remember how the Pharisees scoffed at Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day? They missed the point, didn’t they? Visit the sick on the Sabbath. Exercise hospitality. Help those in need. To use an example from biblical times, if your neighbor’s ox falls into a ditch, help him dig it out. The preservation of life, yes, even the life of an Ox, trumps the ceremonial observance of the Sabbath day. 

*****

Conclusion

As you can see, I have not given you a detailed list of dos and don’ts. But I have, with the help of our catechism, set the teaching of the Bible before you. I hope to move you to keep the Lord’s Day Sabbath holy by appealing to the goodness of the thing. The Sabbath is a delight. The people of God should long for it. They should be eager to keep. For God has commanded it, and his law is very good.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: How Is The Sabbath To Be Sanctified?, Baptist Catechism 65, Leviticus 23:3

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Guard The Deposit

*****

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 6:1–8

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.’ God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’’” (Exodus 6:1–8, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 6:20-21

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

Paul’s letter to Timothy ends where it began, with an exhortation to Timothy to guard the gospel that was entrusted to him. 

This is what Paul exhorted Timothy to do back in chapter 1 verses 3-7: “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, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:3–7, ESV). No different doctrine, Timothy! That is where Paul began. And now he brings his letter to a conclusion, saying, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.” (1 Timothy 6:20, ESV). And so Paul ends where he began. Timothy was to guard the gospel. He was to promote and protect sound doctrine. This was to be among his chief concerns. 

This was Timothy’s calling, and it is the calling of every pastor and elder who serves within Christ’s church. The gospel is to be kept pure. Sound doctrine is to be promoted and preserved, for God’s word is like bread and water to our souls. God’s people will languish if they are fed corrupted food; they will wither if they are presented with polluted water to drink. “Guard the deposit entrusted to you”, Paul says. 

I have devoted an entire sermon to verses 20 and 21 for two reasons. One, these verses do stand alone in Paul’s letter. They are the concluding remarks — the final charge — given to Timothy. And two, the church today needs to carefully consider how central this work of “[guarding] the deposit” is to the work of the ministry. 

So let us now consider this text bit by bit. 

*****

Guard The Deposit Entrusted To You

At the beginning of verse 20, we read, “O Timothy…” The “O” adds emphasis to the address. “O Timothy” — you can hear the apostle pleading, can’t you? “O Timothy”, please be sure to do this! 

And what was Timothy commanded to do? He was to “guard the deposit” that Paul (and others) had “entrusted” to him. 

To guard is to hold on to someone or something closely. A prison guard keeps a close watch on the prisoners to keep a hold on them. A security guard keeps a close watch on someone or something of value to be sure it is not harmed or stolen. And Timothy was to “guard the deposit.” He was to keep it safe and return it as he received it. 

What was this “deposit” that Paul entrusted to Timothy’s care? The context is very clear. It was the gospel, that is to say, the truth of God’s word, or sound doctrine that Timothy was to guard. The Christian faith was entrusted to him! This was the precious thing that he was to keep! 

So important was this that Paul commanded Timothy to do the same thing in the second letter that he wrote to him. In 2 Timothy 1:13 we read, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13–14, ESV). So there it is again. Timothy was to “guard the good deposit entrusted to” him. And the deposit was “the sound words” that he had heard from Paul. And a little later in 2 Timothy Paul adds this: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV).

So here we learn something very important about the Christian faith. It is not something that evolves. It is not something to be added to or taken away from. There is no need to improve upon it, for it was whole and complete when Christ delivered it to his Holy Apostles, and his Holy Apostles entrusted it to the next generation of pastors and teachers. These pastors and teachers (men like Timothy) were not called to alter or develop what they received, but to guard it. And having guarded it, they were to entrust it to other faithful men, who would teach others also.

And how did Christ entrust the faith to his Apostles; and how did his Apostles entrust the faith to the next generation, and they the next generation after that? They taught the scriptures! They demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ from the Old Testament scriptures. This is what Christ did with his disciples in his earthly ministry prior to his death, but especially after his resurrection. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27, ESV). And his Apostles did the same. They proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ from the Old Testament scriptures. And his Apostles, as eyewitnesses of the resurrection, were specially commissioned to testify concerning the finished work of Christ, and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they either wrote or oversaw the writing, of the New Testament scriptures. The New Testament testifies to the work that Christ has accomplished, and applies that finished work to the New Covenant people of God.  

So where do we find this deposit that was entrusted to Timothy? The answer is that we find it in the scriptures. The gospel of Jesus Christ — true and sound doctrine — the Christian faith — is contained within Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. There we find the faithful words of Christ, his Apostles, and Prophets. There Paul’s teaching, for example, is preserved for us. There we may see and clearly understand what Paul taught concerning Jesus the Christ. There we may come to understand how Paul proclaimed Christ from the Old Testament. And there in the Holy Scriptures we may also understand how the finished work of Christ is to be applied by the New Covenant people of God.  

Paul taught the Christian faith to Timothy orally, but he also wrote. And what he said and what he wrote did surely agree. The Roman Catholic church makes much of this distinction between the written word and oral tradition. This is how they attempt to account for their many strange doctrines that are nowhere to be found within Holy Scripture. They claim that they arise from tradition. But there is no warrant for this. What Paul said and what he wrote surely agree. And certainly, he was careful to write down the essential things to be preserved from generation to generation. So this distinction between oral tradition and scripture simply will not explain the blatant contradictions that exist between Rome’s doctrine of justification by faith and works, and Paul’s teaching regarding justification by faith alone as found in scripture, to name just one thing. Yes, we agree that Jesus, Paul, and the other Apostles said many things that were never written down. John famously tells us so at the end of his Gospel, saying, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25, ESV). But it is foolish to think that the oral teaching of Christ and his Apostles would contradict what was written. But this is what we find in Rome’s distinction between the authority of scripture and tradition. 

Where do we find the Christian faith? Where do go for true and sound doctrine? To the scriptures! We go to the scriptures and we labor to interpret and apply them in the way that Christ and his Apostles did. And we allow the more clear passages of scripture to shine light on the less clear. The scriptures are our authority for truth, and we must labor to rightly divide them, or correctly interpret them. 

So do the Reformed find any value at all in the interpretive tradition of the church? Yes, we do! We hold the writing of the early church fathers in high esteem. We cherish the creeds and confession of the church that have stood the test of time. We are not so foolish and arrogant to disregard those who have gone before us. No, we may learn from them. We may be greatly helped by their insights into the Holy Scriptures and their attempts to summarize the Christian faith. 

We are not opposed to the tradition of the church. No, but we are aware that men are fallible. They are prone to error. But “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”. That is 2 Timothy 3:16–17. Pay very careful attention to this. In 1 and 2 Timothy Paul exhorts Timothy to guard the deposit entrusted to him, and to entrust it to others. And what does Paul direct Timothy to? What is Timothy to run to depend upon to be “equipped for every good work” as a “man of God”? The Holy Scriptures — “all scripture”, the Old Testament and the New — for they are “breathed out by God”, Paul says.

And this is why the very first thing we confess is 2LBC 1.1 is, “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.” And in paragraph 10 of chapter 1 we say, “The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit, into which Scripture so delivered, our faith is finally resolved.”

Paul began his letter with an exhortation to keep the doctrine (teaching) of the church pure. Here he concludes his letter by returning to that theme, saying, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.” And we should also remember that at the very heart of Paul’s letter he stated his purpose for writing, staying in 3:14, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14–15, ESV). And so in the beginning, middle, and end of Paul’s letter, it is the truth of God’s words that is emphasized — the church is a “pillar and buttress of the truth”. Ministers in Christ’s church are to guard the truth, for the church is designed to hold aloft true doctrine for all the world to see. She is to promote it and protect it. The whole church is to be concerned with this, and ministers have a special role to play. 

May I ask you by way of application, are you eager to have your pastors do this in the church today? They, like Timothy who lived so very long ago, are also called to “guard the deposit entrusted to” them, for they are ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The deposit is the same deposit! It has been handed down from generation to generation and preserved marvelously for us in the pages of Holy Scripture. The Christian faith has not changed. It cannot change, for the work of Christ is finished! The practice of the Christian faith may look somewhat different from culture to culture, and from generation to generation, but in substance, the faith is the same. And though it is true that the church has been sometimes more and sometimes less faithful to guard the deposit entrusted to us. Indeed, in certain times and places it has seemed as if the truth of the gospel was nearly snuffed out. Nevertheless, the scriptures have been preserved. And the scriptures do constantly call the church to be reformed and to be constantly reforming according to the written word of God. Are you eager to have your pastors lead from the scriptures, and to guard the deposit entrusted to them? 

Or will you go the way of the worldly church and say that doctrine does not matter? Of course, I think better of you. But the temptation will always be there. The Christian faith is always under assault. And it seems that a common tactic of the evil one in this time in place is to convince churches that doctrine simply doesn’t matter. What matters? Feelings matter. Being “good” matters. “Love” matters. Jesus matters (whatever that means). But doctrine doesn’t. “Doctrine divides, but Jesus unites”, is the mantra in many churches. This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. The Christian faith is built upon the truth of God’s word. If those truths — truths regarding God, man, sin, Christ, salvation, the church, our worship, and our future (to name just a few things) — are corrupted, then the Christian faith will not last, it will not stand. The truth is that love for God, faith in Christ, holy living, and sound doctrine cannot be separated. How can you love a God that you do not know? How can you trust in Christ without understanding who he is and what he has accomplished for you? How can you live a holy life before God without knowing what he requires and forbids? It is doctrine that informs all of this. And that is why Paul was so concerned to combat heresy and to exhort Timothy to “guard the deposit entrusted to him”.

And if you wish for pastors to do this then you must support them in their work. Some of them should be supported financially so they can devote themselves fully to this work. All must be supported with your prayers. And they should be encouraged in their work too, so that they do not grow weary. I speak generally here, and not condemningly, for you do excel in these things. But do not cease to support your ministers in their work, brothers and sisters. No, you are to maintain and even grow in your appreciation for the work that your ministers are called to do. Support them. Support them with your prayers. Support them with your time, treasures, and talents.  

Support them by faithfully attending the worship services of the church and other classes to attentively listen to their teaching. Ministers labor in their teaching. And they labor so that the church might be built up strong and true. But the teaching will accomplish nothing if the congregation does not listen. Perhaps I can exhort you here, brothers and sisters, to attend the second service on Sundays to sing, to pray corporately, but also to listen to catechetical, that is to say, doctrinal preaching. We have decided to regularly preach through these central doctrines of the Christian faith because we believe it is needed and beneficial to the people of God. 

And my last point of application for this first point of the sermon is, let us also be sure to invest in the education of future ministers. Who will the Lord call to the ministry? It’s impossible to say. But if a man is called to the ministry, he must be trained for it. And the congregation will need to get behind that. If sound doctrine is to be preserved and promoted within Christ’s church, the sound doctrine must first be understood. This requires study. This requires the hard work of preparation. 

  *****

 Avoid What Is Falsely Called “Knowledge” 

“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.” And then Paul adds, “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’…” Guard this. Guard the gospel. Guard the Christian faith that has been handed down to you. And avoid that. “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’…”

Many students of the Bible have wondered what particular false teaching Paul was referring to here. The phrase, “what is falsely called knowledge”,  has led some to believe that Paul was combating the heresy that came to be known as Gnosticism.  The gnostics taught, among other things, that salvation was attainable only through the attainment of some special, secret, and esoteric knowledge — that is, special knowledge only a select few have access to. This gnostic teaching runs contrary to the Christian faith on many points, one of them being their view of knowledge. In the Christian faith, the truth of the gospel and true doctrine is accessible to all, not just a few. And so you can see why some would see the heresy of Gnosticism behind Paul’s warning here. But two things make this unlikely: One, Gnosticism would not fully develop and threaten the church until a little later in church history. And two, the teaching of the Gnostics does not exactly fit with what Paul says elsewhere in this letter regarding the false teachers who threatened the church in Ephesus. Really, it does not matter who these false teachers were, exactly. What Paul says here describes and applies to all forms of false teaching. 

One, notice that this distortion of the Christian faith that Timothy was to avoid was “falsely called knowledge”. It should be obvious to all that false teachers and their false teaching are able to creep into the church because they are disguised as the truth. False teachers do not creep into the church saying, hey, listen to me I have something other than the Christian faith to proclaim. No, they claim to have the best and truest version of the Christian faith. They claim to have light and not darkness. True knowledge and certainly not a distortion of it. They are wolves… in sheep’s clothing. They are hidden reefs upon which men and women unknowingly run aground and make a shipwreck of the faith. Think of it. These false teachers, whoever they were, claimed to have knowledge, true knowledge. And sadly, some within the early church believed them, and “by professing it some… swerved from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:21, ESV),

This should cause us to tremble, brothers and sisters. This should awaken us and sober us concerning the danger that false teachers and false teaching are to the church of Jesus Christ. Distortions of the Christian faith do cause some to “swerve from the faith”. Think of that for a moment. 

Here I will repeat what I have just said. One, doctrine does matter. When doctrine is distorted and believed, those who believe it do swerve from the faith. Doctrine matters. And two, how important it is, therefore, to have men who are well trained in the Christian faith serving as ministers within Christ’s church. Ministers have a special obligation to guard the good deposit of the faith entrusted to them. And how will this deposit be guarded if it is not known? It must be known, dear brethren. Ministers must be well trained in the faith. They must have sound doctrine if they are to effectively keep it. 

It has been famously said before that the best way to spot a counterfeit is to grow very familiar with the original. Those who are trained to spot counterfeit currency do not only study the counterfeits. No, more than this, they spend a great deal of time studying and handling the genuine. When a counterfeit comes their way they are quickly able to say, something is not right here. And then upon closer examination, they will be able to identify what it is that is not right. And so it is with the one who is well trained in Christian doctrine. His familiarity with true doctrine increases his sensitivity to all that is false. He develops discernment. He develops the ability to quickly say, something is not right here. And then upon closer examination, he is able to identify the fatal flaw.

Here I have said that ministers must be well trained in the faith. And they must also be faithful to teach the Christian faith to the congregation. This will enable the members themselves to quickly identify false teaching should it present itself. The members of a church, if well trained in Christian doctrine, will be like the noble Bereans of Acts 17 who, upon hearing the preaching of Paul and Silas, “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV).

 False teachers do not bring their false teaching into the church and say, hey everyone, I have some strange and different teaching to present to you. Come and hear! No, they are often charismatic and personable. They believe what they say. And their teaching is smooth and polished. It will be appealing. It will have the appearance of truth. Beware, brothers and sisters. Know the original.

I will say, this is one of the reasons that a confession of faith is so very helpful to the church. The word of God is our authority for truth. And confessions of faith summarize the central teachings and core doctrines contained within Holy Scripture. Through our confession we say, here is what we believe the scriptures to teach regarding God, creation, man, sin, and redemption in Christ Jesus, to name just a few things. When a confession is written it may be tested against the scriptures by all who read it. And when a confession is written it may be scrutinized over a long period of time — generations may put it to the test. A confession is a very useful thing to ministers and members alike. One of its functions is to help guard the church against doctrinal error. Ministers and members may use it to quickly identify the error. They are able to say, what I am hearing does not agree with what we have confessed to believe. And then that teaching might be more thoroughly scrutinized against the authority of Holy Scripture. The confession — ours is the Second London Baptist Confession — is a summary of the Christian faith. And so long as it is a faithful summary of Holy Scripture (and we believe it is), it may be identified with the deposit that has been entrusted to us, and the faith against which all others are to be compared. I pray that you heard me correctly. I said, “so long as it is a faithful summary of Holy Scripture (and we believe it is), it may be identified with the deposit that has been entrusted to us, and the faith against which all are to be compared.” The confession is a summary of the Christian faith drawn from the scripture. Scripture is authoritative. The confession is a summary of its doctrines. 

Let us now briefly consider how Paul describes this false teaching which is “falsely called knowledge.”

First, he calls it “irreverent babble”. “Irreverent” here means godless and worldly. The word “babble” indicates that the talk of these false teachers was foolish and empty. And of course, it was foolish and empty talk because it was, at its core, godless and worldly. Where did the teaching of these false teachers originate? Not from God! And not from heaven. No, their teaching was irreverent. It originated from the earth. It was the product, not of God, but of man. 

And here is the difference between true and false doctrine. True doctrine is revealed from on high. It is from God, and it is received by man. False doctrine is worldly and godless. It originates in the heart and mind of sinful man. 

How do we know what is from God and what is from man? So much could be said about this. But one important observation to make is that God has revealed himself to man in the course of human history by first acting and then speaking. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth, and then he did speak to Adam in the garden to instruct him how he should live in light of the act of creation. And in the days of Moses God did act to redeem his people from Egypt by accomplishing mighty deeds before them, and then he spoke to Israel by Moses to explain his redemptive work and to instruct them how they should live in response to it. And in the days of Christ God did act to accomplish our redemption — the virgin was with child, Christ lived on earth and performed mighty deeds, he died, was raised on the third days, and he ascended. Christ also taught. And his apostles taught. But their teaching was an explanation and application of the work that God had accomplished. 

I wonder if you can see the significance of this. God’s revelation of himself to us follows his work of creation and redemption. And the word of Christ, his apostles, and prophets were accompanied by signs and wonders to testify to their truthfulness. God has revealed his truth, not through the words of men only, but by acting in creation and in redemption.

Stated differently, God has spoken to us not by sending teachers only, so that we are left with the opinion of one man set against the opinion of another. No, God has acted miraculously in creation and redemption. He has spoken to us supremely through his Son who performed miraculous deeds in life, who died and rose again. And his apostles have testified concerning him. They themselves performed miraculous deeds to confirm that their explanation and application of the finished work of Christ was indeed true and from above. But the philosophies and religions of the world are irreverent. They are godless. They have their origins, not in heaven and with God, but on the earth and in the hearts and minds of sinful men.  

Brothers and sisters, the Christian faith is a revealed faith. God has revealed it by acting in history and by giving us his word. It is not the product of the imagination of men. It is from God. This is what Peter so beautifully says 2 Peter 1:16-20. Listen carefully: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’, we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16–21, ESV). 

When Paul describes false teaching as irreverent, that is, godless and worldly, this is what he means. Its origin is not in God but in man. It is to be avoided, for it is nothing more than empty babble. The teaching that is to be received, promoted, and protected is that which has come to us from above, supremely through the incarnate Word of God, who lived, died, and rose again for his people. Any teaching which does not conform with his (That is God) is to be rejected, for “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV).

Secondly, Paul refers to the false teaching as “contradictions”. “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge…” (1 Timothy 6:20, ESV).

This is a wonderful description of all forms of false teaching. They are “contradictions”. This means that they are filled with inconsistencies. They are internally inconsistent, for they do not agree with the reality of the world that God has made. And of course, they contradict God’s special revelation too. False teaching is filled with contradictions.

Timothy, and every minister of the gospel, must “avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge…” while “[guarding] the deposit entrusted to [them].” 

*****

Keep The Faith, By God’s Grace

Lastly, Timothy was to do this — he was to guard the deposit entrusted to him — by the grace of God and in full dependence on the strength that he supplies. Paul’s last words in this wonderful letter are, “Grace be with you” (1 Timothy 6:21, ESV).

It doesn’t come through in the English, but in the Greek the word translate as “you” is in the plural. So really Paul said, grace be with you all. Think about that. Doesn’t that agree with what I have been telling you all along? Though this letter was addressed to Timothy, and though it is particularly applicable to pastors, this letter is for the whole church. It was not read by Timothy and then stuck in his drawer! No, it was to be shared with the whole church. For the whole church must know what ministers are called to do. And most of what Paul called Timothy to do has application for all Christians. 

“Grace be with you”, Paul says. Oh, how we need God’s grace. God calls us to himself by his grace. He calls us according to his unmerited favor, he draws us to himself, and gives us the gift of faith. All of it is undeserved. But we do not leave grace behind. No, we are to continue in grace. We are to grow in grace and finish with grace. We need God to sustain us throughout the Christian life and to the very end. Let us be found trusting always in him and in Christ the Savior he has sent. Amen.

 *****

Prayer

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Guard The Deposit

Afternoon Sermon: What Is The Fourth Commandment, What Is Required, And On Which Day?, Baptist Catechism 62-64, Genesis 2:1-3

Baptist Catechism 62-64

Q. 62. What is the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

Q. 63. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God one whole day in seven to be a Sabbath to Himself. (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12)

Q. 64. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. Before the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath. (Gen. 2:3; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1,2; Rev. 1:10)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:1-3

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1–3, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

We will be considering the fourth commandment this Sunday and for the next two Sundays, Lord willing. Please remember that the first four commandments have to do with the proper worship of God. The first tells us who should be worshipped — God alone. The second tells us how he should be worship — not with images. The third teaches about the attitude of worship — we must not take the Lord’s name in vain. And the fourth addresses the time of worship. Here we learn that one day out of every seven is to be set aside a holy unto the Lord as the Sabbath day. On that day we are to rest from our worldly employment and recreations to give ourselves over rest, to the public and private worship of God, along with acts of necessity and mercy. 

If I were to guess I would say that the fourth commandment is the most misunderstood and greatly neglected of all of the commandments today. The predominant view seems to be that the Sabbath command is no longer applicable to the people of God living under the New Covenant. “Christ is our rest”, they say. “He has fulfilled the law!” And there is of course truth to this. But that does not mean that we have nine commandments now instead of ten. No, we agree with the writer to the Hebrews who wrote to New Covenant saints, saying, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God…” (Hebrews 4:9, ESV). The Greek word translatds as “sabbath rest” means “sabbath keeping”. The pattern of resting and worshipping one day in seven remains under this New Covenant era. Why? Because as true as it is that Christ is our rest, we have not yet entered into the full, final, consummate, and eternal rest that he has secured. That rest will be enjoyed after he returns to raise the dead, judge, and make all things new. And it is that rest — the eternal rest that the people of God will enjoy for all eternity in God’s glorious presence — of which the weekly Sabbath is a sign. A sabbath rest will remain until we go to glory.    

Let us learn to think carefully about the Sabbath command, lest we find ourselves living in perpetual sin as we fail to worship God according to his word. 

*****

Baptist Catechism 62

As you know, the fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” (Exodus 20:8–10, ESV). This is the fourth of the ten commandments written by the finger of God on stone and delivered to the people of Israel by the hand of Moses. 

But please do not miss this very significant point. This was not the first time that Sabbath-keeping was commanded. No, even Adam was to keep the Sabbath day holy in imitation of his Maker. God created in six days and rested on the seventh. It should be obvious to all that it did not take God six days to create (as if he were struggling to complete the work) — instead, God took six days to create so that we might imitate him in our work. And God did not rest on the seventh because he was tired, but so that we might imitate him in our rest. 

In fact, a careful consideration of the Sabbath theme in scripture reveals that the Sabbath day functioned as a kind of invitation to Adam to work, living in perpetual and exact obedience to God, so that he might then enter into rest — eternal rest, the rest of God, that is to say, glory. 

Two very important observations must be drawn from this as begin to consider the fourth commandment. 

One, Sabbath-keeping was not for Old Covenant Israel only, but for all of mankind. The Sabbath (like marriage) was instituted, not in the days of Abrham, nor in the days of Moses or David, but at creation. It was at the time of creation that God, “blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” This is very significant. Those who believe that Sabbath observance passed away with the Old Covenant fail to recognize that the Sabbath was not instituted with the Old Covenant, but at creation.

Two, the seventh day Sabbath corresponded to the Covenant of Works which was made with Adam in the garden, and the covenant of works which was made with Israel in the days of Moses. The seventh-day Sabbath communicated this: work and thus enter into rest. We know that Adam broke that covenant. He failed to enter into rest. And we know that Israel could never keep it, not even to secure and maintain blessed life in the promised land. Nevertheless, the observation stands. The seventh-day Sabbath signifies the Covenant of Works. Work to enter God’s rest. Obey to enter life eternal.

*****

Baptist Catechism 63

Setting those preliminary observations to the side for just a moment, let us look a little closer at Baptist Catechism 63, which asks, What is required in the fourth commandment? Answer: “The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God one whole day in seven to be a Sabbath to Himself.”

As I have said, God established this pattern at the time of creation. One day of seven is to be set apart holy. This means that one day in seven is to be treated as different from the rest of the days. The other days are for common things — common work, and common recreation. But on of seven is to be regarded as special. It is to be approached as holy unto the Lord. 

The word “keeping” is significant, I think. For as you know, common things — common work and recreations — do always threaten to overrun the Sabbath day. Sabbath observance is not something we fall into. The Sabbath must be kept. The people of God must be intentional about it. They must prepare for it throughout the week by ordering their common affairs. And when the Sabbath day comes, it must be kept. 

*****

Baptist Catechism 64

Let us now briefly return to the question of the day. Question 64 will help us by asking, “Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?” And the answer is right and true: “Before the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath. (Gen. 2:3; John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1,2; Rev. 1:10)

Notice three things:

One, the pattern of one day of rest out of every seven remains. And it will remain, “to the end of the world.” In other words, Sabbath-keeping has existed and will exist as long as life in this present age remains. This is so because of what the Sabbath signifies, namely, eternal rest. It signified eternal rest for Adam. It was an invitation to him to work and thus to enter into God’s rest. And the Sabbath functioned in the same way for Christ. Christ was to work and thus enter into rest. And the Sabbath also signifies eternal rest for you and me today. Tell me, brothers and sisters, have we entered into eternal life? Well, we have tasted it. And it is ours for sure if we are in Christ. We have been sealed by the Spirit. He is our guarantee. But we have not laid hold of it. Eternal life, life in glory, eternal rest is still in the future for us. And this is why a Sabbath-keeping remains for the people of God. 

Two, notice that though the pattern of one in seven remains, the day has changed. There was a time when the Sabbath was to be observed on the seventh day, that is, on Saturday. But now it is to be observed on the first day, that is, on Sunday, which the New Testament calls “the Lord’s Day”, and which we may call “the Christian Sabbath. 

So what prompted the change? Notice thirdly that the occurred at the resurrection of Christ from the dead. 

Now, let us think about this theologically. Why would the resurrection of Christ prompt a change in the Sabbath day? Why, after the resurrection of Christ from the dead, did Chriost meet with his disciple on Sunday? Why did the early church have this practice? Why did they assemble together for worship on the first day, and not the seventh, as was the custom of the people of God for generations before them? Why the change?

Well, I suppose the simplest answer would be to commemorate the resurrection of Christ from the dead. And that would be true enough. But I think there is more. Much more! 

One, consider that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and entered into glory because he kept the Covenant of Works which Adam failed to keep. And so at the time of Christ’s resurrection, there was an advancement in God’s program of redemption. When Christ rose from the dead, he accomplished something. He earned something. He moved things forwards as he kept the terms of that Covenant of Works that Adam failed to keep. Christ entered into rest. Perhaps this is why the early church customarily referred to the Lord’s Day as the “eighth day”. In six days God finished the first creation and he rested on the seventh. But Christ, by rising from the dead on the eighth day did secure the new creation for himself and all who are united to him by faith. The first day, or the eigth day Sabbath signified this advancement. 

Two, consider that when Christ died and rose again he did at that time inaugurate the New Covenant, which is the Covenant Grace. A Sabbath-keeping does indeed remain for the people of God. But a seventh-day Sabbath does not fit the Covenant of Grace. The seventh-day Sabbath signified that work would lead to rest — and that was indeed true for Adam, Israel (pathologically), and for Christ. But for those who are under the Covenant of Grace — that is to say, for those who have faith in the risen and ascended Christ — work does not lead to rest. Instead, rest in Christ does lead to work. First, we trust in Christ, and then we serve. First, we rest in him, and then we obey out of gratitude for all he has accomplished for us. 

*****

Conclusion

More could certainly be said. But for now I will say, do not neglect the Christian Sabbath.

Delight in it, brothers and sisters. Long for it. See that on this day we get a small taste of the rest that will be ours for all eternity through faith in Jesus Christ, who is the second and successful Adam. 

And prepare for it so that the Sabbath may be kept. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV).  

Q. 63. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God one whole day in seven to be a Sabbath to Himself. (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Is The Fourth Commandment, What Is Required, And On Which Day?, Baptist Catechism 62-64, Genesis 2:1-3

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Set Your Hope On God

Old Testament Reading: Proverbs 30:7-9

“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7–9, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

“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. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17–19, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

Whenever considering a particular passage of scripture one should ask the question, why did the author decide to make this point here in this place? In other words, what is the authors’ flow of thought, or rational? Recognizing the flow of thought will help us to better understand the particular passage we are considering. 

When reading through 1 Timothy 6 it seems as if Paul brings everything to a conclusion with that marvelous little doxology of verse 15-16, saying, “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15–16, ESV). But as you can see, he was not finished. He has something to say concerning the rich here in verses 17-19. And he has one final exhortation for Timothy in verses 20-21, which we will consider next Sunday, Lord willing.

So the question is, why did Paul say what he says concerning the “rich in this present age” here? How does this teaching concerning the rich fit into his overall flow of thought? It almost seems out of place, doesn’t it? It feels a bit like an afterthought. But that might be due to the fact that we are moving so slowly through this letter. If we were reading the letter quickly and in one sitting we might recognize that what Paul says here in 6:17-19 regarding the rich does in fact round out the warning he gave back in 6:5-10. 

In 6:5-10 we learned that false teachers do sometimes imagine that “godliness is a means to [financial] gain”.  And there Timothy was reminded that “godliness with contentment is great gain”, that “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”, and that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” 

These words are true. They are words to live by. But they do raise some questions, don’t they? If it is true that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evils”, what are we to think of the rich, then? Is it possible for a Christian to be rich and to maintain their devotion to Christ? Or do these wise warnings about the danger of the love of money mean that those with lots of money are defiled? Stated differently, what does God think of the rich? What does he require of them? So, the passage that is before us today answers questions that were raised at the beginning of this last section of Paul’s letter to Timothy.  

What does God require of the Christian who is rich? That is the question.

*****

Those Who Are Rich In This Present Age Must Set Their Hope On God

The first thing we learn is that those who are rich in this present age must set their hope on God. This is taught in verse 17, which says, “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.” 

It should be recognized from the outset that Paul does not condemn the rich for being rich. Neither does he command them to cease being rich. Instead, he urges them to adopt a particular mindset. They are to be humble. Their hope is to be set, not on the uncertainty of riches, but on God. This initial observation helps us to see that it is not a sin to be rich. We are to remember that it is the love of money, not money itself, that is a root of all kinds of evils. And it is not only the rich, but also the poor, who are tempted to love money. And so we see what the biblical perspective is: there are righteous and unrighteous poor, and there are righteous and unrighteous rich. It is not the wealth or the lack thereof that makes the difference, but the heart and, as we will soon see, the behavior, which distinguishes the two. 

I think this is a very important initial observation. As you know, the world is so very divided. And it divides over so many things. The three that come immediately to mind are race, gender, and class. And as it pertains to the classes it is tempting for the one side to demonize the other without giving consideration to the character of the person. The rich may sometimes assume the worst of those who are poor only because they are poor. And the poor may sometimes think the worst of those who are rich only because they are rich. This is wrong, brothers and sisters. Yes, there are unrighteous rich and poor. But it is also possible to be poor and righteous, and rich and righteous. Men and women should be judged according to the content of their character, and not by superficial observations.  

The world is so very divided along these lines. But do not forget that Paul was writing to Timothy, and Timothy was a minister serving Christ’s church in Ephesus. In the church in Ephesus, there were rich and poor. These were united together in Christ. These worshipped side by side. The potential for division in the church along economic lines was (and is) very great. Think of it. In society, the rich naturally congregate and associate with one another, and so do the poor. In society, this is expected and even accepted. But in Christ’s church, there is to be no such division, for we are one in Christ. How important it is, therefore, for the rich to think rightly concerning themselves and rightly concerning their poor brothers and sisters. And conversely, how important it is for the poor to think rightly concerning themselves and rightly concerning their brothers and sisters who are rich. Are they unrighteous because they are rich? Are they obliged to give all of their wealth away now that they are in Christ so that all are equal, economically speaking? The answer to both questions is no. But Paul does have something to say about their attitudes and their actions.   

Let us now carefully consider verse 17. 

Our passage begins with the words, “As for the rich in this present age…” 

Who are the rich? It is hard to say for sure. Every society has its classes. Our society distinguishes between the lower, middle, and upper classes. Some in our society are considered to be wealthy and even ultra-wealthy. Which of these groups does Paul have in mind when he says, “As for the rich in this present age…”? 

Some are obviously wealthy. They are rich and they know it. But I would propose that many living in this country are more wealthy than they realize. They might place themselves in the “middle class”, or “upper middle class”. And perhaps they are right to place themselves there. But we should not forget how blessed the middle class is in this country. The middle class is very, very large when compared to other times and places. And the middle class does also live very well. What we consider to be average, or slightly above average, might be considered wealthy in other parts of the world today, and around the world in times past. And so my point is this, when Paul says, “As for the rich in this present age…”, he may be speaking of you directly, even if you are not accustomed to viewing yourself as rich. And even if he is not, there is something for you to learn here. For in this passage we learn something about a godly perspective on wealth. 

The phrase, “in this present age” is very important, for in this passage Paul will contrast life “in this present age” with life in the age to come. There is “this present age”, and there is the age to come. There are no other ages besides these. “This age” will continue until Christ returns to raise the just and the unjust, judge the world, and make all things new, bringing his redeemed safely home. And then there will be the age to come — that is to say, life in glory; eternal life lived in the presence of God Almighty. We are to live for age to come, brothers and sisters. So, when Paul speaks of the rich “in this present age”, he refers to those who have an abundance of the world’s resources. They have plenty for themselves, and enough to share with others.  

And then Paul commands Timothy to “charge them…” This means that Timothy, as a minister of the gospel in the church in Ephesus, was to command or order the rich in this present age to think and to act in a certain way. Paul had charged Timothy to devote himself to certain things, and now Timothy is commanded to charge those who are rich in the church to devote themselves to certain things.  

Three things are mentioned in verse 17. The first two are stated negatively, the third is stated positively. 

First Paul says, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty…” To be haughty is to have an arrogant attitude. And I am sure you can understand why the wealthy might be tempted to think of themselves as better than the rest as if their wealth came as a result of their superior intellect, talent, or worth. 

The remedy for a haughty attitude is found at the end of verse 17 where Paul reminds Timothy that it is God “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Consider that for a moment. The wealthy have their wealth because God has given it to them. And even if their wealth did come to them as a result of their abilities, it was God who gave them their abilities. Paul speaks to this elsewhere, saying, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, ESV). Friends, every good thing that we enjoy in this life comes from God’s hand. And this includes our intellectual and physical abilities. It is all from him. Apart from him we do not exist! Where is there room for boasting, therefore? The Christian, no matter if they are rich or poor, must never be haughty, for they know that their very life is a gift from God.  

And add to this what the scriptures teach concerning the nature of man. All who are human — men and women, young and old, black and white, rich and poor — have God as their Maker. They are made in his image. They are of equal worth, therefore, and are to be treated with dignity. This is why the Proverb says, “The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the Maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2, ESV). There is no room for boasting, therefore. A haughty spirit, wherein one man looks down upon another because of economic status, is unacceptable. The rich in this present age ought to be humble and grateful to God for his abundant provision.  

Secondly, Timothy was to charge the rich to not “set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches… ” If you are rich, be sure that you do not set your hope on riches, for they are uncertain. And I suppose the very same thing could be said to those who are poor. For even the poor may be tempted to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches. The rich may be tempted to say because I am rich I am secure and immovable! And the poor may be tempted to say, if only I were rich I would be secure and immovable!

The trouble with this way of thinking is that riches are themselves uncertain. Riches may come and go in this life. And certainly, we will not take the riches of this world with us into the life to come. Even if a man manages to hold on to his wealth all the days of his life, he goes into the grave with nothing at all. Death is the great equalizer, isn’t it? Rich and poor go into the grave as equals. Both leave this world with nothing at all. So you see that wealth is fleeting. It is unstable. It is unsuitable, therefore, to serve as a foundation for one’s life.

That little phrase, “set their hope on”, is interesting. I think it should prompt us to stop and ask, what is my hope set on? To hope in something is to look forward to it with confidence and a sense of expectation. Hope is vital to life. Without hope, we do languish and wither away. But hope may be set on different things. Some set their hope in their children, on their spouse, their family, and friends. Others hope in their nation. And others hope in their health and wealth. Most often our hope is distributed across a combination of these things. But here is what we must come to terms with. All of these things are unstable and uncertain. They are temporary and transient things. They are prone to death and decay. And if your heart sinks when you hear these words, your hope is probably misplaced. 

Hope is essential to life. And hope must be set on something. But the things of this world are not able to bear up under the weight of hope, for they are ever-changing, temporary, and prone to decay. They cannot deliver, brothers and sisters. They certainly will not deliver in the end. And this is why the apostle warns the rich, saying,  rich as you may be, do not set your “set [your] hopes on the uncertainty of riches…” They will fail you in the end, my friends.   

Thirdly, Timothy was to positively exhort the rich to set their hope “on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

Hope is essential to life. And our hope must be set on something. And who is the one who is able to bear up under the burden of our hope? Who is worthy to be the object of our hope? Only God is. We are to set our hope on him. This is a decision we must make. Take your hope, dear brethren, and set it on God. He will not fail you. 

God is worthy to bear our hope for he is not a creature that is prone to death or decay. No, he is the Creator of all things, the source, and sustainer of all life. 

God is infinite. He is without boundaries or limitations of any kind. He had no beginning, and he will have no end. He is everywhere present. His power is boundless. And so too his knowledge and wisdom.

God is unchanging. He does not improve, for he is perfect in every way. And neither does he deteriorate. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17, ESV).

God is therefore faithful. He is dependable. He is the only one worthy of our hope and trust.  

Hope in God, Paul says. Rich and poor must not “set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

I would like to say just a little bit more about this phrase, “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Perhaps you have detected the play on words. The “rich in this present age” are not to hope in “the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides…” (1 Timothy 6:17, ESV). It is God who provides for us. And even those who are poor may say that God “richly provides”. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above”, And God is faithful to provide for the needs of his people. But the rich must remember that it is God who has richly, or abundantly, provided for them. And you would do well to notice that the provision is to be enjoyed.   

I wonder if Christians do not sometimes forget this. The scriptures do warn against worldliness. Paul in this same letter has warned against the “love of money”. It is a root of all kinds of evil. And the scriptures do also urge us to live for the world to come. We are to store up treasures there, and not here. But scriptures also teach that the good things of this life are to be enjoyed. Attitude is everything. Do not “set [your] hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy”, the apostle says. 

As I was reflecting upon this the thought occurred to me that it is the Christain who is in the best position to enjoy the good things of this life. The Christian is able to enjoy food and drink, family and friends, home and country, to the fullest because they know the truth about these things. The Christian is able to approach and appreciate these blessings in just the right way. These blessings of life have their proper place. They are good and they are pleasant, provided that we receive them as from God’s hand and use them as God has intended. We are to receive them with thanksgiving. They are to be enjoyed to the glory of God. But they must not be worshipped. Our hope must not be set upon them, for they are not able to bear up under the weight of it. Stated negatively, if we set our hope on the good things of this earth — things like food and drink, family and friends, home and country — we ruin them. They collapse under the weight and cannot be enjoyed. 

Think of the man who loves money. Though he may have an abundance of it, he never has enough. And he lives with a constant and nagging fear of losing what he has. The money is not the problem. The condition of his heart is the problem. His love and hope have been misplaced. If his love and hope were placed upon God, then he would enjoy his wealth to the glory of God. But by placing his love and hope on the money, he finds it impossible to enjoy the blessing that God has provided. 

And think of the mother who loves her children supremely and has set her hope upon them. Strangely, by loving her children with the kind of love that only God deserves, and by setting her hope upon their health, wealth, and prosperity, she loses the ability to enjoy them, and for them to enjoy her, for she is constantly anxious about harm befalling them. Children are to be loved. And children are to be enjoyed. But there is a kind of love that is fitting for children. And there is a kind of love that is fitting for God. We must be sure to get this right. We must worship and serve the Creator — never the creature. Our hope must be set squarely on God, and on God alone. The things of this world cannot deliver. And when we set our hope on them, we ruin the blessing that God intended for us to enjoy. 

Are you rich? Then do “not… be haughty, nor… set [your] hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

  *****

Those Who Are Rich In This Present Age Must Be Generous

Secondly, Paul exhorts those who are rich in this present age to be generous. Look at verse 18. “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share…” (1 Timothy 6:18, ESV)

Here the focus shifts from the heart to the hand. What are the rich to do in the heart? Hope in God. What are they to do with their hands? Be generous and ready to share. And do not think that these two things — the heart and hand — are unrelated. Those who love money, whose hope is set on riches, will have hands tightly closed. But those who love God and man, whose hope is set on God, will have hands that are open to the poor and needy around them. The rich are to demonstrate that their hope is in God by their generosity. 

Three things are again stated. 

One, those who are rich are to do good. They are to use their time, treasures, and talents for good. This is true for all believers. Both rich and poor are to do good, but a special obligation rests upon those who are wealthy, and it is not difficult to understand why.

Two, Paul continues his wordplay and urges the rich to be “rich in good works”. There are many who are poor in this world who are rich in good works. And there are many who are rich in this world who are poor in good works. But Paul urges the Christian rich to be rich in good works also. 

It should be obvious, but it probably does need to be said — it is God who defines what is good. God is good. And in this world, there is good and evil. Good works are not for us to define. It is God who defines what is good. Our confession actually speaks to this in chapter 16 paragraph 1, saying, “Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions.” This must be said because men do have this terrible habit of deciding for themselves what is good and evil independent of God. And though they may truly believe they do good, in fact, they do what is evil. Think of all of the ultra-wealthy who have contributed great sums of money to causes that are wicked. The world calls them philanthropists. But God may have a different opinion. Do you wish to be “rich in good works”? Then be sure to first ask, what is good according to the scriptures? You do not do good when you give money to an unworthy or unholy cause. At best, you squander God’s resources. At worst, you help to advance the kingdom of darkness.

The rich are to be “rich in good works”. And three, they are “to be generous and ready to share…” We are to imagine this generosity as taking place primarily within the local church. In some instances, the wealthy in one local church may share with those who are in need in another congregation. But the point is this: the wealthy in the church should be generous towards their brothers and sisters in need. 

We know this was the practice of the church from its earliest days. In Acts 4:32 we read, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32–35, ESV)

Let me make just a few observations about this text. 

One, it should be recognized that this text is not promoting communism, as some erroneously say. The government did not mandate this sharing, and neither did the leaders within the church. Those who gave, gave willingly. That is significant. And this becomes very clear in the passage that follows. Do you remember the story regarding Ananias and Sapphira? They sold a field and made a contribution. And Peter spoke to them saying, among other things, “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?” (Acts 5:4, ESV). And so, as we consider the sharing that took place in the early church we must confess that the church still believed in and respected personal property.

Two, the gifts that were given did not do away with the distinction between rich and poor so that all had the same amount. Rather, the wealthy were concerned to meet the needs of the poor. They saw to it that no brother or sister went without their daily provision. 

Three, the rich in the church did not contribute directly to the poor, but gave the funds to the apostles who saw to it that the funds were distributed carefully and fairly. I do not think this forbids personal and direct contributions, but there is wisdom in this method. Benevolence funds should be managed carefully and fairly by the leadership of the church. 

All of this agrees with what is said in 1 Timothy. The wealthy in the church are “to be generous and ready to share”, Paul says. 

And so I ask you, if you have an abundance of the world’s goods, are you willing to share them? All should give as an act of worship before the Lord. No one should come empty-handed to worship. Even the poor should bring something to give, even if it is very little. And the rich should give as an act of worship to God. This should be done regularly, willingly, and cheerfully. But if you have an abundance, may I exhort you to give above and beyond your normal offerings to meet the needs of those who are experiencing economic hardships in Christ’s church. 

You know, some time ago the elders did approve beginning the custom of taking a benevolence fund offering by passing the plate after we partake of the Lord’s Supper and as we sing our final song each and every Lord’s Day. The instability of the past year has hindered us from implementing this, but I do believe the time is drawing near. Please prepare for this, brothers and sisters. We will continue to collect the regular offering through the offering boxes to the rear of the sanctuary and also online. But we would like to bring some aspect of the offering into the liturgy of the church. Not all will be able to give above and beyond their normal offering to the benevolence fund, and that is alright. But it is fitting to remember those who are suffering in our midst after we come to the Lord’s table, and to give (if we are able) in order to relieve their suffering in some way through the ministry of the deacons. I’m not saying that we will begin right away. But soon, Lord willing. Consider bringing a little extra to contribute to the benevolence fund if you have been blessed with an abundance.

*****

By Doing So They Will Store Up For Themselves Treasures In The Age To Come

The rich are to be “generous and ready to share”, and notice the result will be that they will store “up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 

Here we have even more wordplay. The rich were warned to not set their hope in the uncertainty of riches. Worldly riches do not make for a good foundation given how unstable they are. But by doing good works and being generous the rich will lay a good foundation for the future, and this foundation will be treasures in heaven — treasures in the life to come. 

This sounds a lot like the teaching of Jesus, doesn’t it? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21, ESV)

Men and women foolishly labor to accumulate wealth in this life. And when they die they go naked into the grave. None of God’s with them. What a poor investment. All of it is lost in the end. But the apostle reminds the rich — and all of us along with them — that there is a way to invest in the life to come, and that is through good deeds. Our hope must be set on God alone, and our hands must be open and generous to the needy about us. And if we would devote ourselves to good works through faith in Christ then we will be investing in life eternal. That is the only kind of investment that will endure the trial of death and last for all eternity. 

   *****

Prayer

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Set Your Hope On God

Afternoon Sermon:What Is Forbidden In The Third Commandment And What Reason Is Added?, Baptist Catechism 60 & 61, Malachi 2:1–9

Baptist Catechism 60 & 61

Q. 60. What is forbidden in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment forbideth all profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes Himself known. (Malachi 1:6,7; Lev. 20:3;19:12; Matt. 5:34-37; Isa. 52:5)

Q. 61. What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?

A. The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape His righteous judgment. (Deut. 28:58,59; Malachi 2:2)

Scripture Reading: Malachi 2:1–9

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.” (Malachi 2:1–9, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

The third commandment is “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7, ESV). We have asked what it requires, and now we are asking what it forbids. 

One general thing that we have learned about the third commandment is that it is very broad in its application. Many assume that it only forbids using God’s name as a swear word. And it does forbid that, of course. If you have the habit of using the name “God”, or “Jesus Christ”, in a careless way to express surprise or dissatisfaction, you should stop. This is true if you say the name of God verbally, or represent it in a texting acronym. In doing so we take a most holy thing and treat it as if it is common. We trivialize God and the name of God. Never should we use God’s name in a careless or profane way. But we have learned that the third commandment requires and forbids more. When God’s law says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”, this does not only have to do with the way that we use God’s name in speech, but also our handlining of all “God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works.” Everything whereby God makes himself known is to be handled with reverence and care. 

And that leads us to the second general thing that we have learned. The third commandment is really about attitude. We are to approach God with reverence. We are to consider him carefully. We are to love him, worship, and serve him from the heart and with sincerity. This we are to do from day to day as we live in the world that he has made. And this we are to do Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day as we assemble in his temple to worship and to hear his word proclaimed. We are to have reverence for God and the things of God always. We live in his world. We bear his name. Our lives are lived before his eyes. We are to serve him truly, reverentially, and from the heart. 

*****

Baptist Catechism 60

We have learned what the third commandment requires. But what does it forbid? “The third commandment forbideth all profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes Himself known.”

Let us think about this for a moment. 

What does it mean to profane something? It means to treat something in an irreverent or disrespectful way. And what does it mean to abuse something? To abuse something is to misuse it, or to use it in a bad way and to a bad effect. 

If someone were to act at a wedding ceremony in the way they might act at a sporting event they would profane the wedding ceremony. Why? Because a sporting event is common, whereas a wedding ceremony is solemn. Each are to be approached in a different way given their content and purpose. And if someone were to use a cell phone as a hammer we might say, you are abusing that phone. Why? Because the phone is not designed to be used as a hammer. When you use it in that way something of value is damaged and even destroyed. And when men and women profane, misuse and abuse God’s revelation of himself to us, they break the third commandment. 

Now, how does God make himself known to us? He makes himself known to us in creation and by his word. 

God reveals himself generally to us in the world he has made. Those in Christ must learn to see the world in this way. The world does reveal truth concerning God. That is why the Psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:1–3, ESV). And Paul also speaks to this, saying, “For what can be known about God is plain to them [the unrighteous], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19–20, ESV). God reveals himself generally in the world he has made. 

We should be very careful, therefore, to never profane or abuse God’s creation. The created world is to be appreciated and enjoyed. The created world is to be used according to its design. The created world is to be respected. And when we engage with the created things it should always move us to give glory to God the Creator of all things seen and unseen. There is sense in which a man violates the third commandment when he abuses or oppresses another human being. That human is made in God’s image. That human reveals something about God. To abuse a human being is to abuse the name of God, therefore. That is an obvious application. But it may also be said that men break the third commandment when they live in God’s world and do not recognize the glory of God in it. They enjoy the things of this world, not to the glory of God, but for their own pleasure only.    

Brothers and sisters, we must learn to do all things to the glory of God. We are to honor him even in simple things like eating and drinking. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV). Look at the mountains and trees to the glory of God. Enjoy your home to the glory of God, for he is our refuge and strength. Relate to others made in the image of God to the glory of God. For God does make himself known in all of these things. We are to approach each day with an attitude of reverence, therefore.   

God reveals himself generally in the created world, but he reveals himself much more clearly in his word. This we call special revelation. And we must be sure to handle his word and receive his word with great care. This means that we should take the reading, teaching, and application of scripture very seriously. And this also means that we should partake of the sacraments seriously too, for they are a visible word for the people of God. In the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper God has filled common things like bread, wine, and water with special meaning according to his positive command. We must not abuse or profane God’s Holy Word. 

So I wonder, do you come to worship with reverence in your heart? Do you come prepared to receive God’s holy word? Do you come prepared to partake of his ordinances? God reveals his name to us in these things. We must handle them — the scriptures and the sacraments — carefully and with reverence. 

*****

Malachi 2:1-9

That passage that I read from Malachi just a moment ago was powerful, wasn’t it? The priests of Israel were rebuked and threatened with a curse for corrupting the covenant, perverting the worship of God, and turning aside from sound instruction. 

All ministers of the gospel should take this as a sober warning to be faithful and uncompromising in the proclamation of God’s truth and in keeping pure the worship of God. 

And all members of Christ’s church should take this as a sober warning as well. We must not  profane or abuse “anything whereby God makes Himself known”. 

*****

Baptist Catechism 61

In fact, Malachi 2 is listed as a proof text for Baptist Catechism 61, which asks, “What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?” The answer is, “The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape His righteous judgment.” In other words, this is what the words, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain”, mean. We may fool man, but we cannot fool God. He sees even the attitude of our hearts. He knows when we take his name in vain — when we partake of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, or listen to his word proclaimed carelessly and without faith in our hearts. He knows, and he will judge. Malachi 2 certainly communicates this principle well. The Lord sees. He saw his priests, and he sees his preachers. He knows when they minister the word carelessly and with partiality. And he will surely judge, for he will not allow his name to be profaned.   

*****

Conclusion

Q. 60. What is forbidden in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment forbideth all profaning and abusing of anything whereby God makes Himself known. (Malachi 1:6,7; Lev. 20:3;19:12; Matt. 5:34-37; Isa. 52:5)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon:What Is Forbidden In The Third Commandment And What Reason Is Added?, Baptist Catechism 60 & 61, Malachi 2:1–9

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Keep The Commandment

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 104

“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers. He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 104, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 6:13-16

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13–16, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

At the conclusion of last Sunday’s sermon I stated that verses 11-12 and verses 13-16 of 1 Timothy 6 belong together. In this section, Paul addresses his co-worker Timothy and exhorts him to be faithful to Christ and to the work of the ministry. The passage is singular in its focus. I have divided the text into two only because it is too rich. There is simply too much here to consume in one sermon. 

*****

The Charge: To Keep The Commandment Unstained And Free From Reproach

You will notice that at the beginning of verse 13 Paul continues to exhort Timothy to faithfulness with the words, “I charge you…” We do not use the word “charge” in this way very often. Here it means to “order”, to “command”, or “to announce what must be done” (LouwNida, 425). Kings and military commanders issue charges. Paul is here saying to Timothy, here is what you must do. The language is strong and serious. 

And what did Paul direct Timothy to do? “I charge you…” — look now at verse 14 — “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” (1 Timothy 6:14, ESV). “Keep the commandment” — this was Paul’s charge to Timothy. 

So what did Paul mean when he said, “keep the commandment”? 

This little phrase has puzzled some. You will notice that Paul did not say, keep the commandments, in the plural. If he had said this we might assume that he was referring to the Ten Commandments, or to the two commandments which summarize the Ten: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. But no, he wrote “keep the commandment”, in the singular. So we must ask, which one?

It might help to know that the word translated as “commandment” can also be translated as “order” or “commission”. And I think that is the sense here — keep the commission, Timothy. Keep the order. So Paul was not merely urging Timothy to keep one particular commandmentthis one or that —  but more generally, to follow through on his commitment to follow Christ and to serve as a minister within Christ’s church. He was to stay true to the Christain faith, to the gospel, and to all of its ethical demands. So, although “commandment” is in the singular it has a collective sense. “Keep the commandment” means, keep the Christian faith. Keep believing upon God and Christ and doing what God requires of you. Follow through on your commitment to Christ and to his church.

You know, when a person hears the gospel, comes under conviction, turns from their sin, and places their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, they are to be baptized. Water baptism is “a sign of [that person’s] fellowship with [Christ], in His death, burial, and resurrection…” You can see how that is symbolized in water baptism, can’t you? The one baptized goes under the water just as Christ went into the grave. They stay there for a moment and then they are raised, just as Christ was raised from the dead. Those who have faith in Christ have fellowship with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, and baptism is a sign of that. And it is also a sign of being “engrafted into Him”. When we believe upon Christ we are joined to him by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in him we are reconciled to the Father. When we baptize, we baptize in his name — in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptism is also a sign “of remissions of sins”. Water washes dirt away. And the waters of baptism signify that the stain of sin has been removed through faith in Christ, because of his shed blood. And lastly, baptism is a sign that the person has given “up himself unto God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life”. All of that truth is summarized nicely for us in Baptist Catechism 97, which I have been quoting. 

And so there is a great deal of symbolism in baptism. The new birth is symbolized. Union with Christ is symbolized. And so too is the washing away of sins. All of this is received by God’s grace and through faith in Christ alone. Water baptism is the sign of these things. But notice this: not only are the benefits that come to those who have faith in Christ symbolized in baptism. No, the one baptized does also make a profession and commitment. Through the waters of baptism, the person being baptized also says something. They say, I believe. They say, Jesus is my Lord. And they say, having now given myself “up unto God through Jesus Christ, I will live and walk in newness of life.” In the waters of baptism, what God has done for us is through faith in Christ is signified. In other words, the gospel is symbolized there. But in the waters of baptism a profession of faith is also made, along with a commitment to follow after Christ from that day forward.   

Question 101 of our catechism elaborates on this aspect of baptism and asks, “What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?” Answer: “It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” So, when a person is baptized upon profession of faith, they are baptized into Christ, which means that they are also baptized into the church, which is his body, his temple, his bride. And having been baptized into Christ and his church they are to go on walking “in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

You may be thinking to yourself, why all of this talk about baptism? What does this text have to do with baptism? Well, a lot, I think.  When Paul charged Timothy “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” He was urging Timothy to follow through on his commitment to Christ made in the waters of baptism. 

This charge that we find in verse 13 is a reiteration of what was said earlier in verses 11 and 12:  “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, ESV). Some think this refers to Timothy’s ordination to the ministry (and that might also be in view), but it seems more natural to think of Timothy’s baptism. It was in the waters of baptism that Timothy would have “made the good confession” concerning “eternal life” “in the presence of many witnesses.”

So, when Paul says “keep the commandment” he means keep the faith that you professed in the waters of baptism along with its ethical demands. Continue to believe in Christ and do all that God requires of you. And then Paul adds these words: “unstained and free from reproach”. “Unstained” means that Timothy was to maintain moral purity. He was to avoid blemishes on his moral character. And when Paul says, “free from reproach” he means that Timothy must be above criticism. Of course, this means valid criticism, and not invalid criticism. Christ himself was criticized by others. Men hated him and slandered him, but unjustly. The Christian is to be “free from reproach”, meaning above criticism that is valid and justified. 

Brothers and sisters, this charge was delivered originally to Timothy as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I hope you would agree that this charge is applicable to you and me and to all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus. All Christians are to “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” All must follow through on their profession of faith and their commitment to follow Christ made in the waters of baptism. 

So, to those who have been baptized in Christ Jesus, I ask you, are you keeping the “commandment”? Are you keeping the faith along with its ethical demands? Are you keep it “unstained and free from reproach”?

Think of your baptism. Think of all that was symbolized when you were, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, taken under the water and brought up again. Think of what was signified. There, your union with Christ was signified. There, the washing away of your sins was signified. And there the death of your old self, and the birth of your new self was signified. All of these benefits — union with Christ, the forgiveness of sin, and new birth — came to you, not by the waters of baptism, but by the grace of God and through faith in Christ who lived for you, died for you, rose and ascended for you. But in baptism all of these benefits were signified. Think of your baptism. And then ask, am I walking accordingly? Am I walking now as one united to Christ, washed in his blood, and made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit? And think of your baptism again. This time, do not think about the symbolism but consider the profession of faith that you made there. Consider what it was that you said before God and man. You said I have faith in Christ, Jesus is my Lord, and I will follow him all the days of my life. By being baptized, you made this profession and commitment.  Are you keeping that commitment, friends? That is what Paul is urging when he says, “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach.”

As I have said, this passage applies to all who have professed faith in Christ, but three groups of people came especially to mind.

One, I thought of those who have been baptized who are still young. Perhaps you made a credible profession of faith at the age of 12 or 13 and were baptized, and now you are 16, 17, or 18 years old. You are no longer a child. You are emerging into adulthood and you are preparing for independence. Do not forget your baptism, brothers and sisters. Do not forget the profession and the commitment you made. Do not forget that God’s name was set upon you in the waters of baptism. Remember, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. I speak to those who are young and emerging into adulthood because you will be making some very important decisions in the years to come — decisions that will greatly impact the rest of your life. You must be very careful to “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach.” You will need to decide to follow through on that commitment that you made to Christ as a young person. 

Two, I think of those who have been baptized who are now old. And to you I say, finish strong.

Three, I think of those who have been baptized who are not here, nor are they present in any other rightly ordered church. How they will hear this, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps they will stumble across this teaching online, or perhaps some of you will recommend it to them. But to those who have been baptized upon profession of faith who are not joined to a true church, I say, you are not keeping “the commandment unstained and free from reproach.” To be baptized into Christ involves being baptized into his church, which is the household of God, his flock, and his temple. Do not miss this simple observation, baptism, which marks the beginning of the Christian life, and the Lord’s Supper, which signifies continuing in the Christian life, are ordinances that Christ has given to the church. They are to be administered by the elders of the church and in the presence of the church. They are not for individuals living in isolation, nor are they ordinances of the family. No, they are ordinances of the church. They signify our collective union with Christ, and with one another.  Do not believe the lie that you may walk with Christ alone when it is within your power to join yourself to an orderly and visible church. Do not forsake the assembly, brothers and sisters. The Christian life is not to be lived in isolation. If you have believed the lie that a Christian may walk alone if they so choose, it is time to repent. Find a church where the gospel is faithfully proclaimed and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are administered and join yourself to that church. If you are willingly walking alone, this is not true and biblical Christianity that you are practicing. You have gone astray. You have wandered from Christ and his fold. 

It should be clear to all that I am not here thinking of those who are providentially hindered from joining themselves to a true church of Jesus Christ. There are places in the world where no such churches exist. And there are some who are truly hindered from coming into the Lord’s house due to illness, or some other thing. I am not thinking of these situations, but of those who have professed faith in Christ who willingly, and for no good reason, neglect the fellowship. 

Our culture is filled with many such people. In some respects, the churches are to blame. The gospel that has been preached in this land over the past 50 years or more has been watered down and highly individualistic. Sinners have been urged to walk the aisle and say a prayer to repent, but the Bible says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, ESV). And even in those churches where baptism is administered as a sign of faith and repentance, many divorce it from membership in the local church. Those baptized wander off never to be seen again. This is not right, brothers and sisters. It is no wonder why many are confused. It is no wonder that many think of their faith in this highly individualistic way. 

But there are also many who know better. They know that they should be joined to a local church, but for one reason or another, they neglect the fellowship. And I suspect that this trend will only grow. In the years to come Christians will be tempted — perhaps even pressured — to neglect the fellowship, all in the name of love and safety.   

“What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?” Our catechism is right to summarize the teaching of scripture, saying, “It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” 

  *****

The Duration: Until The Appearing Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

“Keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach”, Paul says. And for how long? Answer: “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time…” 

Notice that Paul did not claim to know when Christ would return. One thing he did know for sure is that it would be “at the proper time”. At just the right time, Christ will appear. No one knows the hour. But God knows. And we are not to concern ourselves with speculations concerning the day or the hour. That knowledge belongs to God. It is not for us. So what are we to concern ourselves with? We are to concern ourselves with the charge! We are to be faithful to keep the command! We are to persevere in the faith and do all that God requires of us. This was true for Timothy, and it is true for you and for me. Until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ — that is to say, until he returns to raise the dead, to judge, and to usher in the new heavens and earth, bringing his people safely home — we are to be faithful.

Let me make this one point of application: This we are to do in good times and in bad, in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of freedom and in times of persecution.

Good times — times of prosperity and freedom — are particularly dangerous for the people of God. For it is in the good times that God’s people are tempted to love the world and the things of this world instead of God and the things of God. It is in the good times that men and women grow comfortable and complacent. It is in the good times that Christians are prone to forget that this is not our home. Good times — times of prosperity and freedom — bring certain temptations and dangers to God’s people.

And bad times are also dangerous. For we know that many do shrink back from following Christ when doing so costs them the pleasures of this world. 

Perhaps the most dangerous times are those times of transition wherein the church goes from being favored to despised, or from despised to favored within the culture. The change can be very disorienting if the people of God are not prepared. 

I am no prophet. I do not know what the future holds. But I do suspect that we are living in such a time as this. The church in this land has historically been held in high esteem, but I do believe that it will be more difficult to follow Christ in this place in the decades to come. Those who call themselves Christians but are willing to abandon the substance of the Christian faith — that is, sound doctrine and right practice — will not have such a hard time. But those with eyes to see can easily perceive that the Christian faith — that is, the true and biblical faith — is rapidly coming into disfavor in the broader culture. 

Are you ready for that, brothers and sisters? Now, I may be wrong. I pray that I am. The days ahead of us might in fact be all bright and sunny. But even if they are, it is good for me to ask you, are you prepared for dark days. It is always good to be prepared for the evil day. 

Is your faith strong? Do you have a true love for the right things — God and the things of God? Is your hope in the right place — in God, in Christ, and in the promises of his word? And where is your treasure? Where are the things that you most value and take pleasure in? Are they here on earth where moth and rust destroy? If they are, you will not fare well in the faith when the loss of those pleasures are threatened? But if your treasures are in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal, then you will be able to truly say, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, ESV).

You know, I hesitate to even speak in this way knowing that some of you are plagued by worry and fear. By no means do I wish to aggravate that. Instead, it is my objective to stir up within you a true and sincere love for God and strong faith in him. As one of your pastors, I do feel responsible to prepare you for difficult days. My calling is to “proclaim [Christ], warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28, ESV). I do wish to present you to Christ pure and mature. And I would be remiss if I did not ask you, have you really counted the cost? Have you forsaken the world? Are you willing to suffer for his name sake?

When we read Paul’s charge to Timothy “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” we should not forget that this was a dangerous calling for Timothy, for other ministers of the gospel, and for those to whom they ministered in the early days of the church. And neither should we forget that this calling is a dangerous calling for many of our brothers and sisters who live around the world to this present day. 

*****

The Witnesses: God, Who Gives Life, And Christ, Who Made The Good Confession

So Paul’s charge to Timothy was “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach”. The duration was “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”. And notice, thirdly, the witness. Paul called two to witness the charge. They are God and Jesus Christ. What he says about these two is very significant, I think.

Verse 13: “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Timothy 6:13–14, ESV).

Why did Paul emphasize these things? Of all the things he could have said about God and Christ, why did he remind Timothy that God “gives life to all things”, and that Christ “made the good confession” “in his testimony before Pontius Pilate”? Surely there is a reason. 

The reason is this: both of these truths are a great comfort and encouragement to the one facing the threat of persecution. Do not forget all that Paul had suffered on account of testimony for Christ. He had suffered greatly, and would eventually be martyred. And do not forget that most of the other apostles would also suffer greatly for their testimony. Timothy knew this. He saw first hand how dangerous it was to be a Christian, and particularly a leader within the church. And so when Paul charged him to “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach”, he called “God, who gives life to all things”, and “Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession” as witnesses.

It is as if Paul said, Timothy be faithful and do not fear knowing that it is your God and mine who gives life. Man may kill the body, but God will keep you and give you life, body and soul, for all eternity. Our God is the “God who gives life to all things”. 

And connected to this, he reminds Timothy of the good confession that Jesus made in front of Pontious Pilate. You will remember that it was Pilate that had the power (humanly speaking) to either have Jesus crucified or to set him free. And when Jesus stood before him he did not shrink back from his calling but made the good confession. He confessed that he was the King, and the Son of God. He was faithful to the truth. And because he was faithful, he was crucified. But God raised him up. And that is the point, isn’t it?  

Paul charged Timothy in the presence of “God, who gives life to all things” and “Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession” so that Timothy might take courage and comfort in them. He was to hope in God who gives life, and in Christ whom God raised from the dead. Stated negatively, if we do not truly believe that God will give us eternal life through faith in Christ who died and rose for us, then we will not likely persevere in the face of persecution. 

Do you believe that God gives life, brothers and sisters? Do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead by him because he was faithful to the point of death? And do you believe that those in Christ will be raised on the last day to enjoy life eternal in the new heavens and earth? I pray that you do.  It is this hope concerning the resurrection and life in glory that does move God’s people to suffer the loss of all things that they may gain Christ and lay ahold of the eternal life that is found in him. 

You know, I have been reading through the book of Job devotionally. That is a very interesting book. It is also rather complex. Most people know it as a book about suffering, and it is that. Job suffers greatly, and he does persevere, even though his wife and his three friends give him terrible advice. But it is also a book about Jesus. It is about Jesus because Job is a type of Christ. Christ was the true and faithful servant of God who suffered even to the point of death though he deserved it not. And it is also about Christ because Job placed his faith in him. Job believed in the Redeemer and hoped in the resurrection. This is what moved him to faithfully bear up under so much suffering. Perhaps the most famous passage in Job is found in chapter 19 verses 25-27, where Job, after suffering greatly, says,  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25–27, ESV). Job had everything pleasant in this life stripped away from him, and yet he would not curse God. He would not turn his back on God. Why? His faith was in the Redeemer. His hope was in the life to come. 

Is this true of you? Is your hope in God who gives life? Is your trust in Jesus Christ who made the good confession before Pontius Pilate, was crucified, buried, and on the third day raised. Do you believe that though your flesh be destroyed, those in Christ will be raised at the end of time, will stand upon the earth with their Redeemer, and will, along with Job, see God in your flesh. I pray that you believe it. I pray that you truly believe, so that you might persevere in the dark day, in the day of trouble. 

  *****

The Goal: The Glory Of God

We have considered the charge, the duration, and the witnesses. Now let us briefly consider the goal, which is the glory of God. We must “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach” so that God gets the glory. That is the goal. 

Listen to this marvelous doxology beginning in the middle of verse 15: “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15–16, ESV).

The goal of all our obedience is the glory of the Triune God. We wish to see him honored. We wish to see him rule over all things. Indeed he does! He is the blessed and only Sovereign. There is nothing outside of his control. And he is “the King of kings and Lord of lords”. But not all honor him as such. Many do rebel against him and blaspheme his name. But at the judgment, all of this will be set straight. The new heavens and earth will be occupied only by those who have bowed the knee to him through faith in the Redeemer he has provided. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV).

God is the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” and “he alone has immortality”. Others besides God will enjoy immortality. Those in Christ will not be threatened by death. They will live in paradise forever and ever. But no one has immortality in the way that God has immortality. God is immortal because God is life. We live because God has granted us life. But no one or nothing gives God life. He is life. He is immortal. 

And he “dwells in unapproachable light… no one has ever seen or can see” him. Think of that. God has manifested himself to us. He has revealed himself to us so that we might know him truly. But no one has seen him as he is. No one knows God exhaustively. It is impossible for the creature to fully comprehend the Creator. It is impossible for that which is finite to fully grasp that which is infinite. 

Our God is awesome. He is marvelous in ways that words cannot express. We are to live for his glory and honor. We are to seek his dominion over all things. 

Why do you think Paul concludes this section wherein he exhorts Timothy to faithful obedience with this doxology? I think it was to help Timothy, and we along with him, to take his eyes off of the troubles of this present evil age and to set them upon God who is glorious and full of life. Live for that, Timothy! Live for the glory of God, and long to be in his presence for all eternity. Everything in this world is temporary, fading, and given to corruption. Don’t cling to it. Cling to God. Pursue him. Make him your delight, and live for his glory. For he will never fade. In him there is life abundant, and life forevermore. 

   *****

Prayer

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Keep The Commandment

Evening Sermon: What Is The Third Commandment And What Does It Require?; Baptist Catechism 58 & 59; Psalm 29

*****

Baptist Catechism 58 & 59

Q. 58. Which is the third commandment?

A. The third commandment is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Q. 59. What is required in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works. (Ps.29:2; Deut. 32:1-4; Deut.28:58,59; Ps.111:9; Matt. 6:9, Eccles. 5:1; Ps. 138:2, Job 36:24; Rev. 15:3,4; Rev. 4:8)

Scripture Reading: Psalm 29

“A PSALM OF DAVID. Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” (Psalm 29, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

As we move on now to consider the third of the Ten Commandments I would like to remind you of something that we learned a while ago. Some time ago we asked the question, “What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?” Answer: “The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law” (BC 45). And then we asked, “Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?” In other words, where is this moral law revealed most clearly? Where is it summarized? Answer: “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments” (BC 45). 

So as we study each of the Ten Commandments we should remember that they are a summary of God’s moral law. And what is a summary? A summary is a brief statement or account of the main points of something. When you read a summary of something you understand that there is more to consider. You are only getting a little taste. There is more to be had. We should remember that The Ten Commandments are a summary of God’s moral law.

Remembering this should help us to think more deeply about the Ten Commandments. I’m afraid our tendency is to think of them very superficially. So, for example, we think that if we refrain from carving a little figure and bowing down to it then we have kept the second commandment. But is that all the second commandment requires and forbids? No! Contemplating the commandment carefully, and considering how the rest of scripture develops the second commandment, shows us that more is forbidden and required than that. In fact, “ The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances, as God has appointed in His Word.” And it “forbideth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His Word.”

The third commandment is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” And this commandment is often understood very narrowly. What do most people assume the third commandment forbids? They assume it forbids using God’s name as a swear word? Does it forbid that? Of course it does! But the third commandment requires and forbids more than this, and our catechism is helpful to set us off in the right direction. 

In previous sermons I told you that the first commandments is concerned with who we worship. The second is concerned with how we worship. And now you are to see that the third is concerned the attitude of worship. We are to revere God. We are to honor his name. We are to worship him from the heart. 

*****

Baptist Catechism 59

So “what is required in the third commandment?” Answer: “The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works.”

To “take the name of the Lord” is to pick it up and use it. To take something in vain, is to pick it up and use it carelessly and without thought to its significance.

 And pay careful attention to the way that our catechism directs us to think beyond the formal names of God only, and also of “titles, attributes, ordinances, words, and works.” All of these things are to be handled with reverential care because they reveal God. We are not to handle any of these things carelessly, thoughtlessly, or vainly.  

Not only are we to use the name, “God”, careful, but also the titles, “Lord” and “Father”. And when we speak of God, his nature and attributes, we must handle those with caution too, lest we misrepresent God. And his ordinance are also to be taken up with great care, for they reveal his truth as well. When we come to the Lord;’s Supper, for example, we are to come with reverence, for God and Christ are here revealed. His word is to be handled with care. Also, his works. This means that we are to even handle his creation with reverence, for the heavens and earth reveal the glory of God. When we look upon a beautiful sunset, we should do so with reverence, brothers and sisters. We should be moved to praise, for something of the name of God is revealed in the sunset. And all of this also applies to the person and work of Christ, for through his words and works he has revealed the name of the Father to us. Christ speaks to God in John 17:6, saying, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (John 17:6, ESV).

This is why I have said that the third commandment has do with attitude. God alone is to be worshipped. And he is to be worshipped in the right way — according to his word. But he also to be worshipped with the right attitude. This is what the third commandment is getting at. 

Think of our worship. When you come to assemble with the church on the Lord’s Day you are indeed coming to worship the one true God. And you are doing it in the right way as we worship together in the way that God has prescribed. But you know as well as I do that it is possible to have the wrong attitude in worship. Sometimes we are very distracted. Sometimes we are careless. Sometimes we come to the Lord’s Table, for example, without thinking of its significance or discerning the sin in our own hearts. The worship is done right, but it is approached in a vain way by the worshipper. God demands more, brothers and sisters. He wants your heart and mind.

We “take the name of the Lord” not only when we speak his name with our lips, but anytime we engage with him and his revelation of himself to us. Never should we approach him or speak of him  in vain, but also with reverential honor and fear. 

Think of this, dear brothers and sisters. You took the name of God upon you in the moment that you believed upon Christ. He adopted you as his own. You are now a beloved child of God. You bear his name just like a child bears the name of her parents. And you know that every parent wishes to have the family name honored. And so it is with God. 

And so you see that the command to “not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” is about more than using God’s name as a swear word. 

When a Christain lives in sin he violates the third commandment.

When a Christian partakes of the Lord’s Supper carelessly she violates the third commandments. 

When a Christian sits under the ministry of God’s most Holy Word but pays little attention or has no intention to obey he violates the third commandment.

*****

Conclusion

This commandment is about attitude. It is warning us against the evil of approaching God — in all of the ways that he makes himself known to us, be it through his names, titles, attributes, ordinances, words, or works — in a careless and irreverent manner.

Prepare your hearts for worship, brothers and sisters. Come to worship with love for God and reverence in your hearts. And prepare your hearts day after, for we God’s children. We bear his name. And we are to testify to the goodness of his name as we live in his world, through wish he makes himself known.  

“Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:1–2, ESV)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Evening Sermon: What Is The Third Commandment And What Does It Require?; Baptist Catechism 58 & 59; Psalm 29

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:11-12, The Man Of God

Old Testament Reading: Proverbs 15:1–9

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly. The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent. In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked. The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.” (Proverbs 15:1–9, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 6:11-12

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

*****

Introduction

In the passage that is before us today, Paul turns his attention from negatively warning against false teachers to positively exhorting Timothy to be faithful in the ministry. In verse 11 we read, “But as for you, O man of God…” So you see that Paul directly addresses Timothy here. And notice that he refers to him as a “man of God”. What does this phrase, “man of God”, mean? 

Well, it can be taken in a generic sense and applied to all believers. All believers are called to be men and women of God. As followers of Christ, we are to love God. We are to worship and serve him in all that we do, living lives of holiness before him. Taken in this generic sense, all Christain men are “men of God”, and all Christian women are “women of God”, at least they should be. 

But I do believe that the phrase “man of God” has a more technical meaning. It is sometimes used in the scriptures to refer to leaders within Old Covenant Israel and the New Covenant church. Moses was called “the man of God” in Deuteronomy 33:1. Prophets like Elijah were called “[men] of God” (i.e. 1 Kings 17:24). And here in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we read, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV). Immediately after this Paul charges Timothy as an ordained minister of the gospel, to “preach the word; [to] be ready in season and out of season; [to] reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2, ESV).

So when Paul called Timothy a “man of God” it was to remind him, not only that he was a Christian man, but that he was a man set apart for Christian ministry. He was a minister within Christ’s church. The phrase is technical, therefore. Paul used it to remind Timothy of his ordination. So we must keep this in mind. What Paul says here he says to Timothy the Christian man and minister. And no, this does not mean that the passage applies only to ministers. It applies to all Christians generally, men and women, young and old. But it applies especially to Christian ministers.  

*****

The Man Of God Must Flee From Evil

In verses 11-12 we learn that the man of God must flee from evil and pursue righteousness. 

Verse 11: But as for you, O man of God, 

flee these things. 

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 

Fight the good fight of the faith. 

Take hold of the eternal life 

to which you were called 

and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

Notice the string of imperatives, or commands — flee, pursue, fight and take hold of, Paul says. In just a moment we will talk about what Timothy was to flee from, pursue, fight against, and take possession of. But let me first make this general observation. These are all things that are done in battle. The Christian life is a battle, friends. And so too is Christian ministry. In battle, a soldier will be constantly fleeing, pursuing, and fighting with the objective being to take hold of some prize. And so it is for the Christan and the Christian minister. The Christian life is a battle. And the battlefield is no place for idleness, complacency, or a lack of direction.  

“Flee these things”, Paul says. What things? 

Well, there are many things that we are to flee from in the Christian life. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18, ESV). In 1 Corinthians 10:14 Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14, ESV). And in 2 Timothy 2:22 he says, “So flee youthful passions…” (2 Timothy 2:22, ESV). So what are we to flee from? We are to flee from all that is sinful. The Christian is to “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9, ESV). But when Paul tells Timothy to “flee these things”, he has in mind the things that he has just warned against in the previous passage. In particular, the love of money, lack of contentment, and the prideful, quarrelsome disposition characteristic of the false teachers. “Flee these things”, Timothy. Run away from these things, Paul says. 

You know, brothers and sisters, there is a time to stand and fight but there is also a time to run. A skilled warrior knows the difference. And if you are to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ then you must learn to flee when the time is right. You must run away from sin, brothers and sisters. You must run away from temptation. I’m afraid that we are sometimes far too comfortable with sin and complacent in regard to the temptation to sin. Instead of running away when we see the prowling lion a long way off, we let it come near, and even walk towards it, so that we cannot escape when it decides to pounce. Perhaps it is the sin of lust. Perhaps it is pride. Maybe it is resentment or discontentment, anger, anxiety, or fear. In some instances, we are physically in places that we should not be. But more often than not, the battle is in the mind and the heart. Friends, so many of our battles are fought there in the mind and heart.   

“Flee these things”, Paul says. What things? Love of money, discontentment, pride, and a quarrelsome disposition. All who are in Christ must flee from these things, but especially ministers within Christ’s church, for when they stumble in these things, the damage to the congregation and the name of Christ can be very great. Brothers and sisters, are you running away from sin — even those sins that reside within the heart and mind?  

*****

The Man Of God Must Pursue Righteousness, Godliness, Faith, Love, Steadfastness, Gentleness

 

Not only are we to “flee” from sin, we must alsopursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, [and] gentleness.”  

Some think that the Christian faith is all about running away from evil. It is that. Those who have Christ as Lord are to run from wickedness. But the Christian faith also involves running toward God and godliness through faith in Christ. He has atoned for all our sins. He has freed us from the curse of the law and from bondage to sin. And he empowers us to live right before him by his word and Spirit. And so Paul not only says, “flee”, but also, “pursue” — “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, [and] gentleness.” 

This is similar to what Paul says elsewhere using the language “put off” and “put on”. In Ephesians 4:22 he says. “put off your old self… [and] put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24, ESV). To merely “put off the old self” will not do. That would leave us unclothed. In Christ, we must also “put on the new self” so that we are clothed in righteousness and holiness. Do not only “put off”, but also “put on”. And do not only “flee” from sin, but also “pursue” holiness.  

This is very important, friends. Christ did not only die to remove the stain of your guilt but also to make you holy and to sanctify you according to the truth. And his desire is that we would, not only run away from doing evil in thought, word, and deed but that we would also do what is right in Christ Jesus.

I’ve put it this way to my children before: “I’m not only telling you to not be mean. I’m telling you to be kind.” Do you see the difference, brothers and sisters? The difference is profound. Husbands, do not be harsh with your wives. Instead, honor them and love them. Put off harshness but do not forget to put on the gentleness. Christian, do not covet. Instead, be thankful to God. Put off and put on. Flee and pursue. And do not be prideful. Instead, be humble. Put off and put on. Flee and pursue. Apply this principle to whatever sin is plaguing you. It is plaguing you, in part, because you are trying to put it off, without putting on righteousness and holiness in its place, by the grace of God. If you have put off the old self, that is good. But now you are unclothed. And if you neglect to put on the new self, you will revert to putting on the old self, for we cannot go about unclothed. Put off the old self and put on the new. Flee from evil and pursue what is right in God’s sight. With God’s help, replace the fear with faith, the lie with truth, the discontentment with thanksgiving, the harshness with gentleness, the hate with love. 

Flee from evil, and “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, [and] gentleness.” I ask you, are you pursuing these things? To pursue something means to strive after it “with intense effort and with [a] definite purpose or goal” (LouwNida, 662). Are you pursuing these things? They will not fall in your lap, brothers and sisters. They will come to you by the grace of God alone. But do you see that God calls you to strive after these things with intense effort? Every good Calvinist knows this. We know that in sanctification God, by his grace, enables us to pursue these things so that we might obtain them. Are you pursuing these things? Or have you grown complacent?   

Are you chasing after righteousness? Of course, the scriptures in other places teach so very clearly that no man (except Christ) is righteous (Romans 3:10). All have broken God’s commandments and stand guilty before him. The only way for fallen sinners to be made right in God’s sight is through faith in Christ. We must have Christ’s righteousness given to us. Our filthy, sin-stained garments must be removed, and we must be clothed in Christ’s pure white garments. All of this — the removal of our guilt and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness — is received by faith alone (read all of Romans, particularly 3:21-22). But this is not what Paul is here exhorting Timothy to pursue. Timothy already had Christ’s righteousness as his own. That came to him the moment he believed. He did not need more of it, for there was no more of it for him to get! When we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness we are clothed fully and forever. No, Paul is not talking about imputed righteousness here, but personal righteousness. Having been made righteous by the grace of God and through faith in Christ, Timothy was then to pursue righteousness — that is to say, he was to strive with everything in him, and with the strength that only God can give, to live right before God. 

In Romans, after establishing that no one is righteous, and that to be righteous one must be clothed in Christ’s righteousness, which is received through faith in Christ alone, Paul then says this: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:12–14, ESV). In other words, having been made righteous by the grace of God and through faith in Christ, now be righteous — that is to say, live right before God — with the strength that God supplies. Pursue righteousness. Strive with intense effort to do what God requires of you as revealed in his word. Pursue righteousness.  

And notice that we are to pursue godliness too. Godliness is similar to righteousness, but it is not the same. The word means to have “appropriate beliefs and devout practice of obligations relating to” God. To be godly is to be religious and pious (LouwNida, 530). The word “pious” has fallen on hard times. When people hear it they tend to think of someone who has a pious — that is to say, an arrogant and snooty — attitude. That is not what we are chancing after. But piety in the form of humble, warm, heartfelt, religious devotion to God and the things of God is to be pursued. Godliness is something we must regain in the church today. We must regain and maintain right belief and devout religious devotion within Christ’s church. Pursue godliness.

And pursue faith. Faith here refers to trust in God through Christ. Pursue faith, brothers and sisters. Walk by faith and not by sight. What does that mean? It means live your life in obedience to God being propelled by faith in God and his promises, and by not what you see with your natural eyes. Your natural eyes might tell you that God is losing and that it would be better to live for the pleasures of this earth. But if you see with eyes of faith you will me moved to trust God and obey him, even if it costs you the world. If fear is hindering you from serving God faithfully in this world, then you need to grow in faith. I am not calling you to live foolishly. But I am calling you to live faithfully, being freed and empowered to live courageously in this world because you trust in God. You are to trust his promises. You are to trust that he will accomplish all of his purposes. You are to trust that he will keep you and bring you safely into his eternal kingdom. You already have faith in Christ. Now walk by faith, and pursue even greater faith. Grow in knowledge of God and the promises of his word. And in prayer say, Lord “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, ESV). Pursue faith.

Pursue love too. Love refers to love for God and our fellow man. God is love. And love is to be the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian. The Christian is to love God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the Christain is to love his neighbor as himself.  Hear John 4:7ff: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:7–12, ESV). Pursue love. 

Add to this steadfastness. Steadfastness is the ability to “continue to bear up under difficult circumstances…” (LouwNida, 307). To be steadfast is to endure in the face of difficulty. If someone told you that Jesus died to make your life easy, they told you a lie. Jesus died to make you holy. He died to reconcile you to the Father. He died so that you might have life eternal. But he was honest. He spoke to his disciples saying, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV). And his disciples did experience tribulations. Many were killed for their faith. The author of this letter we are studying suffered greatly and was eventually killed for his faith. And this is why wrote to his co-worker Timothy saying, you are going to need “steadfastness”. All Christians will need steadfastness, for life in this world is plagued with difficulties. But ministers especially need it. If they are not steadfast, they will certainly shrink back from the work of the ministry. In times of persecution, it is the ministers who suffer the greatest. And in times of peace, the church is still plagued by troubles of many kinds. 

We must pursue steadfastness, but we will not obtain it if we do not first have faith and love. It is strong faith and a sincere love for God and neighbor that will move us to endure. This is what Paul says in Romans 5:1ff: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1–5, ESV). Pursue steadfastness, brothers and sisters. 

But how does a Christian cultivate steadfastness? How does a child of God develop the ability to persevere in the faith while bearing up under difficult circumstances? Three things come to mind besides the general things I have already said about the need for strong faith and sincere love. 

One, the Christian who wishes to be steadfast should consider carefully those who were steadfast who have gone before us. Consider Job. Consider Abraham. Consider Joseph and David. Consider Christ and his Apostles. Indeed, there are many others in the history of the church who suffered patiently through trials and tribulations of various kinds and counted it all joy. Learn from them, brothers and sisters. See how they walked by faith and not by sight. See how they lived, not for this world, but for the world to come. See how they believed that God was with them in the suffering to bring good from it, though his purpose remained a mystery.  

Two, the Christian who wishes to be steadfast should pay special attention to what the scriptures say regarding God’s purpose for suffering. In other words, be sure that you hold to sound doctrine. If your doctrine of God is off, you will not suffer well. If your doctrine of man, sin, and salvation is off, you will not suffer well. I might even say, if your eschatology is off, you may not suffer well. Doctrine matters, friends. And one question you must have settled is, is it God’s will for his people to suffer in this life? The answer is, yes! Listen to 1 Peter 2:20: “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:20–21, ESV). And consider how Paul’s preaching ministry is summarized in Acts 14:22. There we are told that he went about the cities of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, ESV). Those who have believed the lie that God’s will for them is that they have health, wealth, and prosperity in this life, will not suffer well. They will certainly believe that God has failed them when they suffer. But we know that God cannot fail his people, for he has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV). And when we suffer we know that our loving Father has a purpose in it.  Doctrine matters, friends. And you had better get sound doctrine before the trial comes. It is much more difficult to get sound doctrine regarding suffering and the sovereignty of God in the midst of the trial. It is not impossible. But the best time for laying a foundation is when the skies are clear and the sea calm. If you wait until the rain falls, the wind blows, and the waves crash ashore, it may be too late. Get sound doctrine now if you wish to be steadfast.  

And thirdly, the Christian who wishes to be steadfast must be steadfast in the little things today. Be steadfast in the little trials and tribulations if you wish to be steadfast in the big ones. Have you ever wondered how the martyrs came to have the faith and courage to stand for Christ even when faced with the threat of death? Or have you ever watched a brother or sister suffer greatly and yet maintain a deep love for God with joy and thankfulness in their heart? Where does that strength come from? Well, it comes from God. It by his grace that we stand. But it most likely also comes from practice. Be steadfast in the little things, brothers and sisters. Endure suffering well from day to day, and teach your children to do the same. We must learn to deal with dangers, difficulties, and disappointments, big and small, in a faithful way, entrusting our souls to God, who is sovereign over all. Do not be easily discouraged or dismayed, brothers and sister. Trust in God. Be steadfast.

And to all of this add gentleness. I’m afraid that in the world, and perhaps even in the church, gentleness is equated with weakness. And I suppose that some who are gentle are weak. But the two do not go together. It is possible to strong yet gentle. Our Lord was strong and gentle. He was the strongest, most mature, and uncompromising man ever to live, and yet he was meek and mild. The truth is this — it is those who are harsh who tend to be inwardly weak. They are harsh because they are afraid. They are harsh because they are immature and insecure. But those who have strong faith, sincere love, and a steadfast spirit may also be gentle. Pursue gentleness, brothers and sisters.        

Gentleness is a very important Christian virtue. Listen to Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, ESV). Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3, ESV). And listen to the way that Paul described his own ministry. He wrote to the Thessalonians saying, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, ESV). 

All Christians are to pursue gentleness. But it is essential that ministers be gentle. This was one of the qualifications for elders, remember. An elder must not be “violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:3, ESV). Ministers must be gentle because they are called to serve hurting people. And even when they must rebuke the rebellious, they are to do in humility and with self control.  

Perhaps I can put it this way. Harshness reveals weakness. We are harsh when we are tired, frustrated, fearful, selfish and prideful. Do not hear me forbidding firmness. Christ was sometimes firm. Paul was firm. There is a place for that. But never should we be harsh — nasty, mean, cutting, and rude. We must pursue a gentle and loving disposition. 

  *****

The Man Of God Must Fight The Good Fight Of The Faith

Thirdly, we learn in this passage that the man of God must fight the good fight of the faith.

The word translated as “fight” means to struggle or strive. The Greek word is ἀγωνίζου. Perhaps you can hear in that Greek word the English word, agonize. The Christian life is a struggle, friends. 

In other places, Paul uses athletic and even military metaphors to describe the Christian life.   

In 1 Corinthians 9:24 we read, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete [ἀγωνιζόμενος] exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, ESV). We are to struggle and strive in the Christian faith just as an athlete struggles and strives in the gymnasium. 

And remember what Paul has already said to Timothy: “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:18–19, ESV). We are to struggle and strive in the Christian faith just as warrior struggles and strives on the field of battle. 

Do you?  Are you fighting the good fight of the faith? Or have you chosen a life of leisure and ease instead? The Christian life is a struggle, friends. We must fight against temptation and sin. We must fight against unbelief. We must contend with the world, the Evil One and his schemes, and even our own flesh. 

   *****

The Man Of God Must Take Hold Of Eternal Life

Fourthly, and finally, we learn that the man of God must take hold of eternal life.

 What does Paul mean when he commands Timothy to “take hold of the eternal life”? Didn’t Timothy already have eternal life? Isn’t eternal life ours the moment we believe upon Christ? Yes and no. 

Eternal life is ours now because Christ has earned it for us. Eternal life is our inheritance, and the Spirit of God is our deposit and guarantee. The Spirit seals us when we believe. He puts his mark on un in the waters of baptism. But we will take possession of eternal life in the future when we pass from this earth, or when Christ returns to make all things new. This is what Paul says in Ephesians 1:13ff: “In [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14, ESV). So you have eternal life now. It is yours by way of promise and inheritance. But we have not taken full possession of it. 

 When Paul commanded Timothy to “take hold of the eternal life” he meant, persevere in the faith until the end. Yes, God will preserve all who are his. And one of the means that God uses to preserve his people are the commands of scripture to persevere. God will preserve his elect. And he preserves his elect, in part, by commanding them to persever, and empowering them to obey. 

Notice that eternal life was the thing “to which [Timothy was] called.” Timothy, just like you and me, was called to faith in Christ so that he would have eternal life. 

And notice that eternal life was the thing “about which [Timothy] made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” I take this as a reference to Timothy’s baptism, though it could also refer to his ordination. The point is this, Timothy was to persevere. He was to follow through on his profession of faith and his commitment to serve as a minister in Christ’s church. 

Consider this, dear brethren. The pressures on Timothy to turn back were probably very great. We should not forget that Paul, his mentor, had been imprisoned, would be would imprisoned again, and eventually killed for his faith in Christ, and particularly his work in the ministry. Do not underestimate the pressures that Timothy felt. Do not underestimate the dangers. Remembering the dangers helps us to better appreciate Paul’s exhortation to perseverance.  

Brothers and sisters, I do hope that you are comforted by the promise that Christ will keep all who are his and will lose not one (see John 17; Romans 8:29ff). He will surely finish the work he started in you (Philippians  1:6). But it is also important for you to hear these exhortations to persevere. They are found throughout the scriptures. And they are very important. God uses these exhortations to move us to perseverance. He preserves us by his grace. And how does he do it? By enabling us to persevere! Friends, you have a part to play. Do not grow slack. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24, ESV). “[Press] on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, ESV). “While the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it” (Hebrews 4:1, ESV). 

   *****

Conclusion

The man of God, and all of the saints with him, must flee from evil, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness; fight the good fight of the faith, and take hold of the eternal life. All of this requires living with intentionality. The Christian must not simply drift through life. No, the Christian must count the cost, pick a side, and have only one King, for the Christian life is not a stroll in the park, it is battle.

Friends, this passage that we have studied today and the one that follows it really do belong together. Time will not permit us to give adequate attention to both of them today, and so I have saved verses 13-16 for the next Lord’s Day. But I thought it would be good to at least mention the message of the following passage by way of conclusion, for there is good news there, comfort, and hope, 

In this passage that we studied today, Timothy, and we along with him, are exhorted to run, fight, and persevere in the Christian life. And how important it is for us to be exhorted in this way! In the following passage, Paul charges Timothy again. But in that text he emphasizes, no so much our responsibility, but the source of our strength, life, and hope — namely, God and Christ.    

Let me simply read that text to you as we close. “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:13–16, ESV).

How will the people of God persevere in the faith when faced with trials and tribulations of many kinds? By trusting in God and Christ who is our life. Amen. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 6:11-12, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:11-12, The Man Of God


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2020 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church