Sermons Updates

Guarding the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:1-11) – Mark Ottaway

Guarding the Gospel

1 Tim 1:1-11


Turn in your Bibles to 1 Timothy 1. We are beginning a series this morning in 1 Timothy called Church-Life. I am not sure how long this will go, and we may continue into 2 Timothy, not sure yet. Of course, both books have been written by Paul to young Timothy. And especially 1 Timothy gives us a great deal of help with how the church should function, and how people should behave themselves in church. We see this in a key passage (1 Tim 3:15):

“I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

  • Tim 3:15 (LSB)


So, let’s read through the first eleven verses this morning then we will look at some observations (reading from the Legacy Standard Bible).

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, our hope, To Timothy, my genuine child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I exhorted you when going to Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may command certain ones not to teach a different doctrine, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the stewardship from God which is by faith. But the goal of our command is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and an unhypocritical faith. For some, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and godless, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for sexually immoral persons, for homosexuals, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”

1 Tim 1:1-11 (LSB)


Paul had been in prison prior to this letter and is now free. He actually will later be arrested again, where he will write his second letter to Timothy from prison. Paul had a great desire to invest in others so that the ministry would continue well. We understand this from 2 Timothy 2:2:

“And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

2 Tim 2:2 (LSB)


Now the Apostle Paul was such a unique man. He was described in some second-century writing as a “man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness.” Now that is not an overly appealing description, and this may have something to do with the fact that in (2 Cor 10:10), it says that his letters are weighty and strong but his personal appearance is unimpressive. I have mentioned before the great appreciation I had for Haddon Robinson who died a few years ago, who was such an encouragement to pastors, and whose sermons were so deep and thought out. Yet he was the oddest-looking guy, there is no other way to describe him. But in many ways, his bad appearance became part of the reason that so many thought of him so affectionately. Young people here this morning, you are all very good-looking. But so much of greater importance is your inward heart and character before God.

And of course, Paul was Jewish and born in the tribe of Benjamin. He had a passion for Judaism and therefore persecuted the church of Jesus Christ, until the day when he was confronted on the Road to Damascus, where he was completely transformed into a follower of Jesus Christ. And we can be certain of Paul’s calling to preach the gospel as he was commissioned by the Lord Himself. He confirms this in 1 Timothy 2:7 saying, “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle … as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” And we see this from the start of the letter (vs 1) that he was an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the command of God. True, Paul was given such a unique and special commission, but we do not have to go looking far to understand the Lord’s will and desire for us as His children, as our simple faith in obedience will soon bring to us the Lord’s leading in our lives. For I am convinced that if we are willing to be obedient to Christ and ask Him for His help, that He will guide us. Maybe not answer all our questions or show us every turn, but we can be confident of His shepherding hand in our lives. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” I believe that I can confidently say that if we are sincere in following Jesus Christ, we will soon find His leading in areas that we may have never have known before.


Paul uses a term here (vs 1) “God our Saviour” which is unique to Paul’s writing in the New Testament. It is an Old Testament term used in the Psalms and at times by the prophets, as God was often looked upon as the Deliverer and that He would be the One who at some point would provide the Deliverer, for it was the Father’s plan to someday send Jesus Christ. I suppose that there are two ways that we should understand God. One, that He is the Judge to those who do not have a relationship with Him, and He is the Saviour of those who do. Because we all need saving, don’t we? Everyone needs a Saviour. For all men and women will someday face judgment unless they are rescued by God. Every one of us sitting here this morning all need a Saviour or we will have to face an eternity of hell. As there are only two kinds of people, those who will face judgment and those who will be saved from judgment. Which ties into Paul’s next statement that Jesus Christ is our only hope. And what can we say about that? Why could we say that Jesus Christ is our only hope? (He saves us from our sins. He provides for us righteousness that we cannot provide. He becomes our great High Priest between God and man. He has made promises that He will come again).


In verse 2, Paul says to Timothy, “My genuine child in the faith.” That is quite the introduction. Imagine receiving a letter today that starts, dear Mom and Dad, the best parents ever. Or to a great Mom, or to a Dad I love so much. Or to read a letter from your parents, dear son or dear daughter, to someone I could not appreciate any better. Or to my most faithful employee, or to the best boss that anyone could ever have. And I am not talking here about flattery, defined as an “excessive and insincere praise, given especially to further one’s own interests.” For with Paul, we do not get the sense that he is trying to gain something here from Timothy or anyone else, but this is his true heart expressed in words. Good to be reminded that we need not hold anything back from those who truly are a blessing to us and those we love. I can imagine that Timothy was so encouraged to read such words by Paul.

“As I exhorted you when going to Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may command certain ones not to teach a different doctrine.”

1 Tim 1:3 (LSB)


Now we understand that Timothy had some challenges in the church in Ephesus, and we will see some of these as we go through the letter. First, there were some church-life issues: the role of men and women, eldering and deaconing, and looking after widows in the church. And then there were several problems of false teaching: (vs 3) straying from the gospel, (vs 4) many were looking into myths and genealogies, (vs 7) struggles with understanding the law, (vs 19-20) some immorality going on, (4:3) some were forbidding people to get married and forbidding certain foods, (6:4) quarrels, and (6:5) some were using their Christianity to get rich.


So, Paul says Timothy, if I were you, I would get out of that church or I would get out of ministry. Why don’t you just do church at home? I mean if there are all these problems in church then church cannot be all that it is cracked up to be. Yet one thing we learn from the Bible is that it is brutally honest about its message and its characters, and it is brutally honest about the church. I would say that likely much of my worry, and it is not that spiritual to worry, is the condition of the church. Now I certainly do not bear that burden alone as the other elders are also very concerned about Elim. And I do not say this negatively, for we should always be concerned about the church. We also have two deacons who put so much energy into this place, and so many within the congregation, both men and women, whose hearts and souls are in the ministry here. And these concerns within any church could I suppose, cause someone to get very discouraged, but they could also be viewed as the church of Jesus Christ is so vital and important and instituted by Christ, that the elders, the leadership, and all of us should desire to make sure that the church does well amid the concerns.


I mean we are humans and we all come with our faults and warts and selfish tendencies: we can have problems at times staying close to the gospel, we can get sidetracked with things outside of the Bible, the culture can pull us in many directions at times, and we do come with some of our own traditions, don’t we, and all of us struggle with sin of some form or another, and that we might even quarrel at times. Actually, I am not a good quarreler. I would never be the one who might stand up to someone and say, hey, what’s going on here? I mean I might if you overrun second base and get tagged out in church baseball in a few weeks. But I would tend to become quiet and worrisome. And I can be discouraged, though I would fight that tooth and nail. But you know what I mean. I mean if you were looking for a perfect church, that is why you came to Elim right? No, we must understand that the main purpose of Paul’s letter was not to encourage Timothy to give up, but to direct him in helping the church to be what the Lord desired them to be.


So, Paul will not waste any words here as he will get right into it from the start. As in these first (11 verses) Paul focuses on a major issue, the purity of the gospel. And we see Paul’s determination here as he writes (vs 3) for Timothy to remain on at Ephesus. Here again, we see the importance of perseverance. Some of you have been here at Elim for a long time, as you have persevered through hard times. But there is value in persevering through because the importance of having a strong, biblical ministry and church is so vital. This again is some of the weight of leadership, as I look down on families with children, and I think back to my times with children at home, and the strong ministry that we enjoyed. Therefore, so much desire for that here. That this would be a place where strong ministry is invested in all of us. And what I notice is that one of the main things that Paul will challenge Timothy with is the purity of the gospel. And he seems to do this both negatively and positively.


Negatively: (vs 3) do not teach a different doctrine, (vs 4) pay no attention to myths and endless genealogies which give rise to speculation, (vs 6) do not have fruitless discussions, and (vs 7) do not make confident assertions, interesting one we will need to look at next week. Positively: (vs 4) to further the stewardship from God which is by faith, for (vs 11) the gospel has been entrusted to us, (vs 5) love from a pure heart, (vs 5) a good conscience, (vs 5) unhypocritical faith, and (vs 8) use the law lawfully. I would suggest that the thrust of Paul’s message here is this, as stated by David Platt to “guard the gospel!” That should be the heart of all of us in everything that we think about, everything we do, everything we pray about, the goals of our ministry, our reputation at work. That all these things are working towards this purpose, to guard the gospel. This is a filter that should flow through all our ministries, because likely one of the greatest dangers we are going to face as believers and as a church is that Satan will desire to get our focus away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Good to be reminded that the city of Ephesus was so full of immorality, idolatry, and pagan culture. And the heart of the message despite all those things is to guard the gospel. Platt writes, “Address anything and everything that pulls people away from the gospel.” And therefore, what is our source for that? Well, we might go to trusted people we know both personally and those whom we trust who may be preachers of the gospel or theologians who write about the gospel. Or I guess we might try to find something on the internet, though we can find just about anything we want by googling it on the internet, and we can always find someone who agrees with us whether we are right or wrong. So, I trust we know there are massive dangers in that. But where do we need to go? God’s Word. And it is not that we do go to a good commentary or to listen to someone we trust, but if we are students of God’s Word, and then when we listen to someone else or read someone else, we will know better if what they are teaching is in line with what the Bible teaches. Because we need to realize the danger here. Because studying the Bible is not just an academic pursuit that is neutral. No, we must understand that Satan is fighting to keep us from guarding the gospel. It is not like an academic subject where you have one opinion over another and you sort of weigh them out. No, we have evil forces against us. Paul later wrote to Timothy:

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”

1 Tim 4:1 (LSB)


Now, one of the ways how this was done was by those who were using the law, and I am not going to get very far this morning, as we will look at this section again next Sunday as there is so much here. But we know that in Jesus’ day, some were teaching things outside of the law. They were adding rules over and above the law. But the other thing that they needed to be careful of was the thinking that the law could deliver them, that obedience to God’s law can save. The Bible teaches that the law cannot save.

“For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in

the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.”

Rom 8:3 (LSB)


When Christ came to the earth He alone was able to fulfill the law, as He did everything He had to do to meet every requirement, something we were unable to do. Sunday evenings we have been going through the book of Hebrews. Turn to Hebrews 7. And the idea that when we teach something as teachers, we learn more than the students, I think that has been an understatement for me in the Hebrews study.

11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received

the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of

Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?


Now realize there is so much going on here that we have been studying, but at least I want you to understand here that the old Levitical system is changing.

12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.


The priesthood had changed and so had the law, (Heb 8:13), we studied last Sunday evening that the new covenant had come and the old was made obsolete.

15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,

16 who has become such not according to a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.


In other words, Christ became our High Priest, not through the line of Aaron, but He was appointed High Priest because of His sinless life.

18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness

19 (for the Law made nothing perfect).


See, the purpose of the Law was not that man could be saved, for it could not. No, the purpose of the law was to show us our sin. In other words, here are God’s demands and you cannot meet His demands. Therefore, we needed Someone to fulfill His demands for us, Jesus Christ.

“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.”

1 Tim 1:8 (LSB)


And Paul will go on to explain to us how that law is used lawfully.

“[K]nowing this, that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and godless, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for sexually immoral persons, for homosexuals, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.”

1 Tim 1:9-10 (LSB)


Now when Paul says that the law is not for the righteous, who is he referring to? Who are the righteous? Well, they are those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Yes, we still sin, but Christ has done for us what we could not do. He has given to us His righteousness, Beginning of Romans 4 Paul writes that God upon faith justifies the ungodly, that is you and I who trust Him by faith. Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.” Romans 3:4, “[B]ecause by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. And God’s law demands that we live in perfect obedience to Him, yet He also teaches that if we have disobeyed one command we have disobeyed all His commands. Therefore, obedience to the law cannot save. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul calls the tablets of stone a ministry of condemnation. So, we see that the law brings condemnation to those who are outside of Christ and God’s righteous law showed us that we were sinners in need of a Saviour.


But where does this leave us concerning God’s Law? So, the question becomes, are we to obey something that has already been fulfilled for us? Do we obey something that does not have the power to save us? Now, before we would ever jump to the conclusion that we are not to be obedient to God. For we need to understand this obedience. For some in the Bible misunderstood the wonderful grace of God in justifying them in Romans 5:

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were appointed sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be appointed righteous. Now the Law came in so that the transgression would increase, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”

Rom 5:18-20 (LSB)


And the receivers of this letter properly understood the awesome grace of God, justification through the life of Christ. But their response was wrong, for look how Paul continues in Romans 6:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?”

Rom 6:1 (LSB)


In other words, they were asking, are we to keep on sinning to demonstrate the wonderful grace of God? How did Paul respond to that question? May it never be! Folks, listen, as forgiven sinners by the grace of God, we are under no condemnation and we are not under the law. For Christ has given us His righteousness. What was required by God for our salvation has already been fulfilled. Therefore, our obedience does not save us. But our obedience, which the Bible often describes as the fruit of our lives proves that we have given our lives to Christ, that we are being made into His image, and that God is truly changing us. Therefore, we follow the One who did everything for us. Look with me at Paul’s words to the Philippians:

“More than that, I count all things to be loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own which is from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God upon faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

Phil 3:9-12 (LSB)


Folks, this is the gospel that we must guard, amen? We who have placed our faith and trust in Christ whom He has forgiven us and we who have received His righteousness. A righteousness accepted by the Father. A righteousness that we could not accomplish on our own. And the result of this work done by God in us is that we now belong to Christ. And though we have not yet obtained perfection, we press on. And our Father is not like an earthly father who might say, I demand that you obey Me, or you are not my sons and daughters. No, through faith in Christ, we become sons and daughters of God. And God says, you are Mine. And Jesus says, you are My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they know Me. And the fruit of the true believer is that we so greatly desire to obey Christ our Shepherd. And we love God the Father. Why? Because He is such a great Father, because He first loved us. (pray) Father, guide us in Your Word. May we guard its truth. May we read it, know it, believe it, and live it. And all God’s people said, amen.