Credibility as a Christian does not depend upon age or experience -- it depends upon the reality of Christ in your life.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? Doing all right? Oh, I’m so glad to be back with you and I trust everything is all right at your house. What a joy it is to minister day by day and opening up the Word of God. It does something for my own heart, I assure you.
You and I are in 1 Timothy 4 and we’ve come now to verse… About 10, I guess it is, where Paul says, “Therefore we both labor and suffer reproach because we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe.” The death of the Lord Jesus on the cross was sufficient to save everybody that ever has lived or ever will live. He paid for it all. It becomes available, however, to those who trust the Lord Jesus and commit themselves to Him.
That word “trust”, remember I told you about that? Greek word “elpizo” means to flee for refuge, to direct your hope in the direction of, to build your hope on someone as a foundation and to repose or to rest in hope. Beautiful word. We trust in God, we flee to Him for refuge, we direct our hope to Him, we build on Him, we rest in Him. When you’re trusting God, you have real rest of soul. Bible says, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, learn of Me, for I’m meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest onto your souls.”
That was trust. Then he said, “He’s a Savior, especially of them that believe.” And that word “believe”, of course, has the idea of commitment. You know that, don’t you? It’s not just simply a mental assent that you give to the proposition like we believe that two plus two equals four. That’s a mental process. In the Bible when the word “believe” is used, it means commitment. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
What did that mean to the Philippian jailer? It meant that he would leave his heathen point of view and he would commit himself to this new Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ whose power he had seen demonstrated in the lives of Paul and Silas. Believe.
Then he says, “These things command and teach.” Verse 11. Now, I noticed that there’s another reference to the word “these things” in 4:6. And I thought, “Now, why is he saying that?” Well, because there are certain things that are very important to the young pastor or to any of us who are in Christian leadership that we need to keep in mind. What are they? “These things.” You know in verse six, he says, “Put the brethren in remembrance of these things. You’ll be a good minister.” In verse 11, “These things command and teach.”
What are they? Well, in verses one to five, the reality of Satan and the delusions and snares that he has for the unwary. Satan is real, the world of the occult is real. You’re in a battle. “We wrestle not,” said Paul the Apostle in Ephesians 6, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Spiritual warfare. The battle is on, Satan has vowed to defeat you and all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now he’s already been defeated at the cross but he’s still fighting. And so, you and I need to know about that.
“Some shall depart from the faith. Giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. Lies and hypocrisy, a conscience seared with a hot-iron.” All kinds of rules that have to do with personal behavior and diet and schedules. He said, “Watch out for these things.” Now, you would think it wouldn’t be necessary to warn the believer about this but we tend to forget. We tend to be lulled into complacency, and we forget that we’re in a battle every day.
And I don’t mean that you should be paranoid about this, constantly looking over your shoulder and fearing the attack of Satan. You don’t have to fear him because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. The Holy Spirit of God dwells within you if you’re a Christian. You don’t have to fear Satan, but you can be aware of him. “We are not ignorant of his devices,” Paul says.
So that you don’t have to be paranoid and chronically fearful and neurotic about it, but you can be aware of the fact that you’re in a battle and you need to trust always upon the almighty power of your living Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ to keep you, to protect you, to guide you, to keep you from falling into error of one sort and another.
Error generally takes two paths as it’s pointed out here. One is to dabble with the occult, doctrines of demons. The other is to get off into some kind of regulatory religion that makes you feel religious because you did something. A great portion of our world is populated by people who think that if you do something, you will then be more acceptable to whatever deity you’re serving. You have the prayer wheels of Tibet for example.
According to Richard Halliburton’s book published long ago, the prayer that was contained in the prayer wheels that he saw were these words, “Oh thou jewel in the heart of the lotus flower.” Beautiful words that mean nothing. And you put the prayer wheel up on the wall and the wind blows and the wheel spins and every time the wheel turns that’s supposed to be a prayer. A nice concept but perfectly useless in the practical business of living, doing something. Bathing in the Ganges, the holy river is supposed to make you more holy. Bringing some kind of offering to whatever deity it is that you are serving, doing something.
The Bible said, “By grace, free for nothing, are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” There is no church that you can join which will save you, there is no work you can do which will save you, there is no gift you can bring which will save you, only the free grace of God through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
So you have those two sources of error and Paul says to Timothy, “Now remind the brethren about this.” Don’t get off in dabbling in the occult, don’t get off into regulatory religion that equates holiness with something that you do-either way, you’re in trouble.
So he says, “Tell them about it.” Then he says also, “Stay away from sideline, mythical religion, refuse profane and old wives fables, the type of thing that may sound good but is not based on the Word of God.” I showed Pastor Warren Wiersbe some years ago-we were seated together- and… I think he was a guest in my house at the time. He was having meetings for us at the college as I recall. And I had prepared a speech I had to give at some function or other, whether it was a Rotary Club or something, It was a good speech as the man said, “It was laid out well but it had been dead a long time.” [chuckle] Good enough speech.
And I passed along the outline to him, I said, “Warren, what do you think about that?” Well, he said, “It looks alright.” He said, “What scripture do you base it on?” Well, immediately, he brought me right back to the law that has been his guiding line all through his great ministry, and that is if it isn’t in the Word, it’s not there. Stay off of the sideline issues, brother, sister, preacher, evangelist, missionary, Sunday school teacher and all the rest of us for that matter. Stay away from the sideline issues, they don’t pay off.
Specialize rather in Godliness. “Exercise,” he says, “Thyself rather unto Godliness because it pays off now and throughout all eternity.” Godliness is the quality of God in your life. God in the ordinaries of life, God being just as real to you when you stand at the sink as when you sing in the sanctuary, God in the ordinaries of life. Godliness is the quality of God in your life. “Specialize in that,” said he.
And then focus… This is what he says, “These things command and teach.” Verse 11. What are you supposed to do? Focus on salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ which eventuates in two things, labor and suffer reproach. We labor and suffer reproach because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Focus on salvation through Christ with a practical outreach that enables you to get to work for the Lord, that enables you to take the pressures that come because of your relationship with the Lord, and that gives you perfect peace as you trust in your Lord.
So he says, “These things command and teach.” What are they? The reality of Satan and his traps and snares: stay away from sideline religions, focus on the main truth of God, specialize in Godliness in your own life. And when you teach others, focus on salvation through Christ which results in getting to work for God. The word “labor”, results in the strength that can take it for God. Suffer reproach and results in the peace that passes out all understanding. We trust in the living God. He says, “You teach these things.” Isn’t that good? [chuckle] Oh, I like that.
Well, he goes on, then, in 1 Timothy 4:12 and he says, “Let no man despise thy youth but be thou an example of the believers in conversation.” That’s manner of life, that word “conversation” in the Bible always means lifestyle, manner of life. “In word, in conversation, in charity.” That’s our word “love”, “agape”, God’s love, John 3:16 kind of love. “In spirit,” that’s the envelope of influence around your life. “In faith,” that’s the quality of having a direct wire to Heaven. “In purity,” that’s the quality of living a holy life. Now, he says, “You be an example of that.”
Now there are two things here: he says, “Let no man despise thy youth.” Can you be as real spiritually at age, let’s say, 16 as someone who has passed age… Let’s say, 55. Just to draw a number out of the hat. Can you be as real spiritually at age 16 as someone who has just passed age 55?
Well, the answer is you won’t have the same amount of experience, obviously, but you can be just as real in the areas that prove that Jesus is real and these are the areas that Paul lists here. The point being, credibility as a Christian does not depend upon age or experience, it depends upon the reality of Christ in the life. Let me say that again before we sign off. Credibility as a Christian does not depend upon age or experience but upon the reality of Jesus Christ in the life. We’ll get at that the next time we get together.
Dear Father today, make us living demonstrations of the reality of Christ. I ask in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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