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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:The Double Blessing of Godliness
Text:1 Timothy 4:6-8 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Running the race
 
Preached:09/03/2017
Added:2017-10-17
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


“The Double Blessing of Godliness”
1 Timothy 4:6-8
 
Every year thousands of people graduate from seminaries across our land. Those seminary graduates had an opportunity to choose from a wide variety of seminaries to attend. Virtually all the seminaries advertise themselves as equipping their students to be ministers of the gospel. In the first century, as small churches were formed, the Apostle Paul also had a desire to train men for ministry. One of those whom he trained, and seemed to have a special care for, was Timothy.
       
Timothy served the church in Ephesus, which more than likely met in a house; it was not a large church, yet it was special in the Apostle Paul's eyes because he recognized that the church is precious to the Lord. It is his bride. He cares deeply about the church, and because the Lord cares deeply about the church and his people, so did the Apostle Paul. He did everything he could to prepare good ministers to serve in the early church, not only at Ephesus but Thessalonica, Philippi, Colossae, Corinth, and all the other cities where churches were formed in the early New Testament era.
 
What type of preparation did the apostle put before Timothy? What courses would he include for those who would seek to be a good minister of the gospel?  From this passage in 1 Timothy 4 we see several areas of pastoral ministry that Paul wanted young Timothy to pursue.
 
Exposing False Teaching
 
First, Timothy was encouraged to be a good minister by pointing out false teaching. Last week, when we looked at the opening verses of this chapter, we read that many teachers in the church will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. There were a wide variety of false teachers back in Timothy's day, at the very beginning of the New Testament church, just as there are many false teachers in the church today.
 
Paul recognized the great danger these false teachers presented.  After describing them, in verses 1-3, Paul begins verse 6 by telling Timothy, If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus. He is reminding Timothy that as a minister in the church at Ephesus, it was Timothy's duty to expose false teachers. The church back then faced teaching by Gnostics and ascetics, legalists and antinomians; there was no shortage of false teachers in the first century.
 
Understanding that, the apostle made clear to Timothy the need to point out these teachings to his congregation, showing them to be a perversion of the true gospel. In other words, doctrine was very important to the Apostle Paul. It was so important that when we come to the last verse in this chapter we will read how he warns Timothy to watch both his life and his doctrine closely.
 
It was a warning that Timothy certainly needed, and it is a warning that is much needed in the church today. The church today has become comfortable with the inclusion of all sorts of doctrine. Instead of pointing out that doctrine which disagrees with the teaching of Scripture is false, there is an effort in many churches to include all types of teaching. When a minister doesn't point out erroneous teaching, people in his congregation often get the view that although they don't agree with some new teaching they have heard, it must not be that bad.  After all, it is tolerated in many churches.
                    
By contrast, Timothy is told that he will be a good minister of Christ Jesus if he points out the false doctrine to the brothers. And, as we saw last week, the apostle did not mince his words in describing the danger of those who teach false doctrine. Verse 1 says that they follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. We saw that it is a correlating verse to 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 where he also warned of false teachers who were masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, he wrote, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
 
However, since Timothy did not attend Westminster, Mid-America, or any number of other good seminaries today, how could he be prepared to be a good minister? The second part of verse 6 describes how Timothy was prepared. He was brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that (he had) followed.
 
Timothy had a foundation for ministry that was being built for him already when he was a young child. 2 Timothy 1:5-6 describes the sincere faith that first lived in his grandmother Lois and later in his mother Eunice, and the apostle says, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
 
And in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 he writes, But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
 
Timothy's training to become a good minister began already when he was a young child. It is a reminder of just how important it is for those who are parents – and grandparents – to be a godly influence on their children and their children's children. The foundation that is laid in those younger years has such a great impact on the rest of the child's life. In the case of Timothy, it was the faithful instruction in the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother that helped to prepare him for future ministry.
 
That also gives incentive for you children and young people to be very thankful that you are growing up in a Christian home. I, too, grew up in a Christian home. But there was a time in my life when I didn't appreciate my Christian upbringing. I didn't appreciate Sunday school and catechism and the years that I was in Christian school. But later on, as I grew older and wiser, I saw that it was such a blessing to have that foundation given to me by godly parents. And still today I frequently thank the Lord in prayer that he allowed me to be born into a family where the Scriptures were taught and where at a young age I learned about the Lord.    
     
One of many reasons to be thankful for a Christian family is that, in addition to God often using your upbringing to bring about saving faith in your life, such an upbringing also gives you the discernment to recognize false teaching. It was because young Timothy was brought up in what verse 6 describes as the truths of the faith and the good teaching that he could recognize false teaching.
 
In other words, in order to protect yourself from what is false, you must know what is true. Because you know what is true about the Scripture you are able to recognize falsehood, even when it comes into the church so very subtly, like a sheep in wolves clothing. And false teaching usually is subtle. It doesn't initially appear as a blatant, obvious lie. It begins just as subtly as Satan's temptation to Eve began in the Garden of Eden. And if it is not pointed out and denounced as false teaching, the subtle lie grows and grows and destroys entire churches.
 
A Steady Focus
        
A second way that Timothy could be a good minister of the gospel, is by not allowing himself to be sidetracked. We read of that in verse 7 which says, Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales…
 
The false teachers of Timothy's day often brought up myths and presented the myths as truth. Nothing has changed. There are still those who follow godless myths in the church today, and there are those who follow the old wives tales, basically meaningless talk that can consume a good deal of time without any productive outcome.
 
The Apostle Paul wanted young Timothy to realize that he could not allow himself to be sidetracked in that way. Still today that warning is so crucial for every minister, and it is crucial for every member of the congregation.  Do you get sidetracked easily? I know that I do. If I don't consciously plan what I'm going to do in any given day, I will get sidetracked and will not accomplish the work that I need to accomplish.
 
And getting sidetracked isn't a matter of just godless myths or old wives tales. We get sidetracked by so many things. In recent decades social media has sidetracked all sorts of people away from what is really meaningful in life. You have probably seen whole families, gathered around a table in a restaurant, each one of them intently looking at their phone. That is being sidetracked from what is really meaningful – the family relationship. That type of distraction which sidetracks us from Christ, and from family, and from church must always be dealt with.
 
In order to escape the trap of being sidetracked by whatever it is that trips you up the most often, you must be focused on your goal. The goal must always be our Lord Jesus Christ. As Hebrews 12:1 puts it we must throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…
 
It is that type of fixation on the goal of living for Christ and running the race, keeping ourselves from distraction and from sin which so easily entangles, that is involved in verse 7 where we are told to have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales. In other words, don't let anything distract you from your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Training in Godliness
 
Instead of being sidetracked, the last part of verse 7 tells us to train ourselves to be godly. For a minister to train himself in godliness is crucial. But I trust that you realize that this passage applies to each one of you as well as to Timothy and to me.
                               
The terminology behind training yourself to be godly is the terminology of a gymnasium. The word that Paul uses for “train” is from the same root word for gymnasium. Literally he is saying to young Timothy “gymnazise yourself to be godly”. In a gymnasium you have a wide variety of equipment to enhance your physical training. We have all seen the exercise rooms with row after row of treadmills. Usually you have a track where people can walk or run as well. There are the weight benches, the barbells and dumbbells and other equipment to build your muscle mass.
 
And just as there is a variety of equipment for training yourself for physical strength, so also God has given us a variety of means to equip ourselves for spiritual strength. On the top of his list is his word. It is by the promises of his word – and the warnings of his word – that we gain strength in living lives of faith in Jesus Christ.
 
He also gives us prayer. What a privilege that we can bring everything to the Lord our God in prayer! We have all experienced the power of prayer in our lives. The Lord also graciously gives us the sacraments, which the Reformers included in what they call “the means of grace.” The sacraments portray the gospel visually, as well as with the sense of touch and taste (and aroma of wine) in the Lord’s Supper, so that we have a deeper appreciation of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and the cleansing that we have through faith in Him.
 
In addition, God gives us blessed fellowship one with another. The fellowship of believers is of great comfort and strength to every believer. And when people try to live apart from the fellowship of other believers, they invariably wither away. We all need each other because together we all form one body, the metaphysical body of Christ here on earth.
 
When we have faithful fellowship with each other, faithfulness in using the sacraments, faithfulness in prayer and in reading, studying and memorizing the Scriptures, then we find that just as a gym has a variety of equipment for physical strength, so also, God has given us a great variety of means to build our spiritual strength.
 
The Double Blessing
 
And when you use those means you will receive a double blessing. Verse 8 speaks of that when it says: Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
 
Very rarely do you find something that has value for all things. You may find something that has value for some things. If you lift weights you will find that dumbbells are valuable for building your biceps, but they cannot build up your calves or your stomach muscles, even though they may be of limited use there. But their main value is specifically for your biceps. There are so many things in a gymnasium – and in life – that have a specific value, but not value for all things.
 
By contrast, our training in godliness gives us value for all things. It is by the Scripture that we have the greatest of all values, for faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Through the Holy Spirit's work in the Scripture, as he applies it to the hearts and lives of His elect, we believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and then grow in our knowledge and love for him.
 
The Bible gives us value in every other area of life as well. In recent years we have seen a growth in topical preaching which treats the Bible as a “how to” book.  It has been pointed out that preaching on topics often neglects the heart of the gospel. A series of sermons may teach us how to handle our finances, or have better relationships, or find ways to cope with anxiety, but often those topical sermons miss the heart of Scripture. The heart – and central theme – of Scripture is the need to repent of our sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.
 
It is legitimate and necessary to note the danger of treating the Bible as just a “how to” book without focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ and the need for saving faith in him, and in him alone. But on the other side of the coin, Scripture is extremely helpful in areas of finance, relationships, dealing with worry and anxiety, as well as a host of other practical topics.
 
All those practical aspects of living day by day are in the Bible. And when we see Jesus Christ with the eye of faith, believing in him alone, then we are to look at the “how to” aspects of Scripture. By keeping our finances in order, and having proper relationships, and casting our cares on Christ instead of worrying about them, we bring glory to God and find that our day to day living is greatly enhanced as well.
 
Training ourselves in godliness gives us the greatest blessing in this life that anyone could ever have. The devil loves to turn it around, as does the world, to say: “You poor Christian. By training yourself in godliness you miss out on all the joy and fun of the world. After all you only go around once in life, so why deprive yourself by living according to a list of rules and some ancient book, when you can really be living the good life in the world?”
 
But that common view is exactly opposite of the reality. Look at the lives of the Hollywood elite and others who live for the desires of the flesh and of the world. Are they happy? How many of their marriages last? Behind the glamour that they portray outwardly, how much sorrow is in their heart and life? How often do we hear of their lives ending in despair as they were controlled and addicted to the very things that they thought would lead them to freedom and happiness? Psalm 32 puts it into perspective. Verse 10: Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
 
Training ourselves in godliness gives us an ever-deeper appreciation for the steadfast love of the Lord. Training ourselves in godliness leads to the greatest joy in this life that anyone can find.­ It leads to the ultimate blessing in this life: it leads us to the joy of salvation, to the peace that surpasses all understanding, and to the comfort that we receive from God and in turn convey to others.
 
So even if the adage was true that you only go around once in life, you would still be much better off living as a Christian than as an unbeliever. Unbelievers do not have the joy unspeakable that the Scripture describes, nor do they have the peace that surpasses understanding, or the comfort that every believer has from him who is described as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
 
But we know from Scripture that this life is like a wisp of smoke that is blown away by the breeze. When our earthly life comes to a close, and when our body is laid in the grave, the best is yet to come for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. At the moment when our soul is separated from our body by physical death we are brought into the presence of our Savior and Lord. As Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). At that moment when we enter eternal glory every tear will be wiped from our eyes.
 
In the glory that is to be revealed we will reign with the Lord over the new heavens and the new earth, and, in the words of Revelation 21:4, death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. That is the blessing that the apostle is telling young Timothy – and us – about: Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
 
With that in mind may you and I be faithful in the week ahead, and faithful every day that God grants us grace to live, to gymnazise ourselves, to faithfully use the means of God's grace to grow in our knowledge, love, and service in his kingdom, for his glory, for the good of others, and for our own growth and appreciation for the One who has redeemed us from our sins. Amen.
 
- bulletin outline -
 
… Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8
 
“The Double Blessing of Godliness”
1 Timothy 4:6-8
 
I. In contrast to false teachers (1-3) Timothy was encouraged to be a good minister (servant) by:
    1) Pointing out false teaching, remembering the truths he learned from his godly upbringing (6; 2 Timothy 3:14-15)
 
 
 
 
     2) Not allowing himself to be side tracked (7a)
 
 
 
 
     3) Training himself to be godly (7b)
 
 
 
 
 
II. Application: Training ourselves for godliness holds promise for both this life and the life to come (8)
 
 
 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 09/0, Rev. Ted Gray

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