Sermons Updates

Knowing the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:1-12) – Mark Ottaway

Knowing the Gospel

1 Timothy 1:1-12


Turn to 1 Timothy 1. Last week we saw that the major concern for Paul in his letter to Timothy was to “guard the gospel,” (vs 3) make sure someone does not teach a different doctrine, and (vs 11) as the gospel had been entrusted to Paul. And so, we gave attention to this last Sunday and we focused specifically on the warning about understanding the law. But in these 11 verses Paul spoke of other specific warnings regarding the gospel: (vs 4) do not pay attention to myths and endless genealogies; (vs 6) he warned about worthless discussions; (vs 7) making confident assertions; and (vs 9-10) the need to know that sin is sin. And then Paul also added 2 instructions: (vs 4) furthering the stewardship that God has given to us; and (vs 5) Paul stressed the importance of love in all this. So, let’s pray before we begin. Lord, again we come to this amazing passage. A passage that is just loaded with depth and wisdom. So may we understand it this morning. Might we use our minds to be captivated by such an awesome God, who desires for us to know. And we ask these things in the name of Christ, amen.


These verses in 1 Timothy 1 are at the heart of the matter today as the times of easy Christianity, if there was ever such a thing, the times of society understanding Christianity is waning, and the times of support for Christianity or sympathy for Christianity is really over. So, for the Christian, the one who has chosen to live for Christ, the one who has placed his faith in Christ, the one who desires to be obedient to Christ, the road is becoming harder, it is less certain, it is far more confusing, and it is being greatly questioned. Therefore, our approach towards the gospel needs to include Paul’s warnings, as we share it with maybe someone at work or a neighbor, or as we teach it to our children.


As these warnings that Paul is going to address, must be part of our message, as receiving the message of the gospel will not come with much fanfare. And it will be questioned in the secular world. And it will possibly limit opportunities in the world for us as Christians. And it will be misunderstood by those outside the church and by some inside the church. And I would also say that if there was ever a time when the Christian is going to have to defend and explain the gospel properly, it is today. For all people have to do is google a famous preacher or anything about Christianity, and they will be bombarded with anything and everything. Thirty years ago, if you were talking to a friend about Christianity, they might listen to you, and if you gave them a Bible, they might read it. Now they might ask another friend, what do you think about Christianity?


But today if you tell them something about Christianity that they might be interested in and they desire to learn more about it, what will they go home and do? They will google it. Or tell them about a famous preacher you enjoy and they might be intrigued by some of what you said. And you tell them to listen to this sermon or that sermon on the internet. And they go home and listen to two sermons from your favourite preacher. And they enjoy them and they have some questions for you, which you are so excited. But what else do they do? They’ll google the preacher’s name, and what do they get? Well, they might get everything from God’s greatest blessing to mankind and to the church to being called the anti-Christ from Satan.


So if we, the Christian, cannot sort out some of this stuff, certainly, the world is not going to be able to sort it out. So, what are we going to do with this gospel? Well, we could just play it safe and keep it to ourselves. After all, the opposition to Christianity is getting way too big. And so, if we speak up about it at school, or if we get the nerve to mention it at work, we may look a little foolish, because we may not have the answers to combat so many sources of opposition. In fact, if I get too outspoken about my faith, and then get bombarded with secular thinking, what might happen? I might even start to question my own faith. So, let’s just keep it quiet. Let’s just keep it private, and try to get along in the world as best we can. In fact, leave me alone. Let me sit in the backyard and enjoy my morning devotion! Are you all with me? That’s what Paul would teach right? Laid-back, peaceful, no opposition, gospel music, me-and-my-Bible Christianity.


See, this is why we don’t always like Paul, (vs 11) he says I have been entrusted with the gospel, and (vs 12) he says I am grateful to Jesus Christ. Why? Because He put me into service. Good for you Paul, you battle it out and we’ll plan the next church picnic. This passage is so convicting because, through Paul’s teaching, we understand that we have been entrusted as well with the gospel, as each believer has been handed the responsibility to carry out the gospel. And I am as guilty of this as anyone. That we can sometimes get in our own little bubble and think let him do it, or let her do it, as I am not equipped, or I don’t have the words. As Moses said, “Please, Lord, I have never been a man of words, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your slave; for I am one with a hard mouth and a hard tongue.”


2 Corinthian 5:20, “So then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as God is pleading through us.” Romans 14:12, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” Hebrews 13:16-17, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. Serve the Lord Christ.” We know the responsibility, and since the message of the gospel has been entrusted to us. Therefore, we must know it well and understand it. So, I wish to share with you two statements of knowing the gospel and conclude with two things to remember. So, let’s begin with:


Our Call to Know


  1. Know the core of the gospel (vs 4, 6-7).


“[N]or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation.”

1 Tim 1:4a (LSB)


What does Paul mean by “myths and endless genealogies”? J. N. D. Kelly suggests that they included allegorical truths from the Bible. Sort of mystery found in the Bible, but not necessarily taught from the Bible. And there is nothing wrong with having an inquiring mind to try to figure out some of the harder things in the Bible. I certainly do not think that it means we ignore difficult passages and focus only on the simple. But I believe we can tend to get outside of the Bible, so that we can start to say this will happen or this is what this story is illustrating, or what these numbers mean, because it can all lead to craziness or what Paul says here is mere speculation. Believing a myth is sort of overlooking the obvious truth and creating a deeper mystical one, or using writings that are not from the Bible to add light to the Scriptures.

There is a book called, “The Book of Jubilees” which was written at this time. It was not part of the canon of Scripture, yet it was well-known to early Christians. It is very parallel to the book of Genesis and gives information reading fallen angels and Nephilim. Interestingly, it does not state the sins of the patriarchs of Genesis, as they are portrayed in a much greater light. And the chronology given in Jubilees is based on multiples of seven, which ties into the jubilee year that God did establish in the Book of Leviticus. But the pattern has been set in cycles of 49 years since creation, and therefore, certain things happen during these cycles. So, part of the myths and genealogies may have been the study of such books that were outside of the inspired Word, that began to have an impact and influence on these believers. Thomas D. Lea wrote:

“Paul feared that the Ephesians might spend so much time in fruitless discussions … that they would not carry out God’s plan of bringing people to a place of obedience and faith before Jesus.”

Thomas D. Lea


I believe the warning here is not that you and I may be reading ancient books outside of the Bible, the Book of Jubilees, or the Book of Enoch. But I believe the warning here for us is that we are googling “myths and endless genealogies,” whatever that might be, that would be taking you down many, many sideroads. And you might say, well that’s not me, as I have no interest in such things. Well, that is probably good. But how well can you detail God’s plan of salvation from God’s Word? How well do you know the gospel as given to us in the Bible?

“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.”

1 Tim 1:6-7 (LSB)


I smile when I read “confident assertions.” Did any of us make some “confident assertions” during Covid? What the government should do, or my opinion on everything. I am sure everything I said was right! We need to beware of those who might assert something that is not stated in the Bible, or who may weave a wide trail to explain what they are teaching. That they tell you something and you are thinking, how did you arrive there? And when we say, know the gospel, this does not just mean that we are sinners and need a Saviour and so Jesus came. No, we should know the plan of salvation throughout the Bible the how’s and the why’s of what God did, so that it is clear to others and clear to ourselves. Folks, might we be thinkers and teachers of the Bible. Important that we know the truth of God’s Word, taken from Scripture and explained correctly. Secondly:


  1. Know the reason for the gospel (vs 9-10)


“[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)


We might be tempted to read such a list and think this is not me. And what Paul is listing here are characteristics of the unrighteous person. And this is a difficult list. We may reluctantly attach ourselves to some of these things, but surely not all of them. But there is no need to act out in all these things to be considered by God guilty of them all. James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” So, there is no need to break all these things to become guilty of them all, we only need to break one of them. Paul wrote:

“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are in the Law, so that every mouth may be shut and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

Rom 3:19-20 (LSB)


And here Paul points out rebellion, murderers, including hatred; sexually immoral, including homosexuality; and liars. Interesting he says kidnappers. Apparently, children were often stolen in this culture. The Bible never teaches that every person is as bad as they could be. This list here is not exhaustive, as there are many sins that Paul could have listed where he does elsewhere. But the list is given to show that even if we have broken one of these laws, we are proven to be a sinner because all are sinners. That’s Paul’s main point. Romans 3:20, “There is none righteous, not even one.” So, do not ever forget the need of the gospel. It is because no man can be justified by the works of the law and the gospel offers forgiveness by God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. That we would repent of our sins and receive Christ and serve Him as Lord. As the Apostle Peter preached, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Yes, know the core of the gospel and know the reason for the gospel. And then Paul desires us to remember two things.


Our Responsibility to Remember


  1. Remember your calling in the faith (vs 4)


“[N]or 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.”

1 Tim 1:4 (LSB)


He is saying that you are doing these unnecessary things rather than “furthering the stewardship from God which is by faith.” In other words, God has given us this goal and purpose, but you are not doing it. This may be true in many areas of life: God has called you to be a good husband, but you are not doing it; God has called you to work hard, but you are not doing it; young people, God has called you to be a good son or daughter, but you are not doing it; God has called you to be joyful giver, but you are not doing it; and God has called you to pray, but you are not doing it. And God has called you by faith to be the stewards of the gospel and are we doing it? That word translated as godly edifying or godly work, and in the Legacy Standard translated the stewardship from God. This just means proper management or administration, in other words, using what God has given us for its proper purpose. And the NIV says advancing, or furthering what God has given us to do. You know imagine coming to a new job and the boss gives you a new computer, a phone, and a company vehicle. And provides for all your needs, and he goes away on a trip and comes back and finds you at home watching TV. Jesus told this parable in Matthew 24:

“Who then is the faithful and prudent slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time … the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know.”

Matt 24:45-48, 50 (LSB)


And we said that could be applied to many things. But what Paul is specifically applying it to here is our responsibility to live and speak the gospel. There is no secret that of everything we do in life is that the Person of Christ is to be the very centre, and at that centre is the message of the gospel. Paul Washer said this:

“There is simply no way to exaggerate the centrality and preeminence of the gospel … It does not supplant the other great truths of Scripture, but it is their cornerstone and the prism through which their true wisdom is revealed and comprehended. To put it plainly, there is no Christianity, no religious devotion, and no true spirituality apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ. His gospel is the greatest revelation of God to men and angels, it is the only means by which fallen humanity might be saved … ‘What think ye of Christ and His gospel?’ How you and I answer this question will tell all that needs to be told about us … If Christ and His gospel are preeminent in our mind and heart then He will certainly be preeminent in our proclamation, He will be the preeminent standard to which we seek to be conformed, and He will be the preeminent motivation of our life.”

Paul Washer


Remember your calling in the faith.


  1. Remember your command to love (vs 5)


“But the goal of our command is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and an unhypocritical faith.”

1 Tim 1:5 (LSB)


“The goal of our command.” What does that mean? Well, I would suggest that he is referring back to verse 3:

“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)


The goal of our command Timothy is so that (vs 5) you would have love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unhypocritical faith. Admittedly, I was still left wondering what this meant exactly, and I was unable to get a lot of help. My first thought was to sort of jump and start explaining what Paul meant by a pure heart, good conscience, and an unhypocritical faith, or sincere faith. Yet Paul seems to suggest a tie between wrong teaching and this right heart. This struck me with the fact that wrong teaching affects my heart. Wrong teaching affects having a pure heart. Wrong teaching affects having a good conscience. Wrong teaching affects having an unhypocritical faith. And I am not sure we are aware of that. I mean, I could listen to someone teach error and think to myself, I do not believe what this guy says, so I’m good. Or I can go on the internet and read a bunch of heresy, yet I know it is not true.


So, I think there is more than just the words of false teaching here. For does not false teaching bring with it a spirit of evil? Or it is just words that we can agree or disagree with. And I am not talking about walking into a closet and hiding there. For we know that life brings us into situations where there are many untruths. I am sure we have all been somewhere, maybe not even a fault of our own, where we wished that we had not been there because of what was said. But I believe the emphasis here is that we would not linger. Because listen to the words of Paul: (vs 4) don’t pay attention to, don’t speculate, and (vs 6) don’t have fruitless discussions. And look how he describes the one who does, as straying from the truth. See, an attraction to speculation is not just a mental exercise where we might think, wow, this is sort of interesting. No, for Paul says it is straying from a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unhypocritical faith. So, the emphasis here is that we would be gospel-centred people. So, are you known as a gospel-centred person? Or do you like to make confident assertions about many things? Because we have to be so careful here. That if I am going to make a confident assertion, it better be something really close to the truth, that the Bible backs up tremendously. Because folks, here is what we miss:


  1. A pure heart


We often think of purity as a heart that is moral. We would often contrast it to a heart that is immoral sexually, and this is true. But it is more than that, as we would also describe as an unadulterated heart, meaning that it is focused on only the right things. When we use the term pure gold, there is nothing else mixed in with it. And what Paul is saying here is that if we take the gospel and allow ourselves to be exposed to many confusing voices and speculations, we lose the pure heart. It would be like marrying your wife and saying I will always love you. And then going out and buying a pile of other stuff that can take your affections away from your wife. In some ways, you have clouded that love for her. And so we have this pure love for the gospel. A heart full up of gratitude for all that Christ has done. And we add in impurities that defer from our focus on Him. Secondly, we miss:


  1. A good conscience


A good conscience that is sharp and reliable. Admittedly not as reliable as God’s Word. But if a mind is saturated with God’s Word, our conscience can be a good guide for us. But when we intentionally allow wrong teaching to come into our minds, our conscience can betray us, and deceive us, it doesn’t stay as sharp. We know this from times when we have sat under good teaching, and we leave that place thinking differently, don’t we? In fact, if we get convicted there might be something inside of us that wants to avoid being under that teaching again. And of course, the other side of a good conscience is that we have the assurance that we have done what was right. We acted properly, we thought properly, and we used our time wisely. So, in this way, there is a good feeling about what we have done.


Now there is nothing wrong with rest and time off because we need it. This past Monday, my day off, it was such a beautiful day and Anne was away. And you know those kinds of days when you feel that you have accomplished something. I mean Ted and I went out in the morning and got so many things organized, cut the lawn, got out the patio furniture, tidied the barn, and planted some roses Steve Pallent had dug up for me. And Ted and I came in at 7:30 at night and we looked at each other and said, what a day! Well, Ted sort of agreed with me. And then when I picked Anne up the next day, Anne said, what did you do Monday? Well, I was so proud of myself, what a day! All the while Anne had just looked after five kids for three days. But kidding aside, I mean this spiritually as well. That we would use those quiet times, those Bible studies, and church time. Time with our kids, working hard. That spiritually we do well, useful time, not wasted time. The result is a good conscience. But we also know that we do not always do things so well. So, he says:


  1. An unhypocritical faith


Not pretending to be someone you are not. Nor does it mean just someone content with sinning. Some of your Bibles use the term “sincere” faith. W. Lock characterizes such faith as having a simplicity of aim which is always a desire to listen to the truth and a desire to do what is right, but admitting when wrong. And this is what we want to strive for, isn’t it? Notice what kind of words Paul uses when thinking of an unhypocritical or sincere faith: (vs 2) Timothy, my genuine child; (vs 4) furthering the stewardship; (vs 11) I have been entrusted with the gospel; and (vs 12) Christ had regarded Paul as faithful.


And let us not forget Paul’s goal in Timothy being like this. In other words, he is saying, Timothy, if you have a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unhypocritical faith, this is what you will be equipped to do. What is it? Love, agape love. A strong unconditional love, as there will not be any impurities to get in the way. You will be full of truth that you are hearing and living so that your effectiveness Timothy will be really something, really genuine. You know the world talks a lot about love. But man, this is a high bar love! Because this is about filtering out much so that I can live and love this way. And you might say, Mark, I cannot do this. Well, neither can I! But let us not miss what else Paul says here, two things:

“To Timothy, my genuine child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Tim 1:2 (LSB)


This is not something that we do on our own. For built within us if we are people of faith is the grace, mercy, and peace of God. As this is not a grit your teeth and do better tomorrow morning. No, this is a reliance on God, who so desires to help us. Grace gives us good things that we do not deserve; mercy, withholding bad things from us that we do deserve; and peace, a deep-seated assurance that the Spirit of God is in us. And secondly:

“I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He regarded me faithful, putting me into service.”

1 Tim 1:12 (LSB)


I love those words by Paul, I am grateful. It would be hard to say to someone “I am grateful” for what you did for me, without a heart that desired to love and serve. And Paul says that he is grateful to who? Christ Jesus our Lord. He lives with this overwhelming gratitude for how the Lord is using him, and of course, for everything the Lord has done for him. Let’s pray. Lord, help us with this great task, and we are grateful for Your desire to use us. Would You purify our hearts and minds so that we would be a people of great love? That we would be focused on Christ alone, pure, and without stain. And all God’s people said, amen.