Adult Sunday School Lesson for February 25, 2018
To endure in faith by contending against the forces that seek to undermine our faith.
1 Timothy 6:11-21 (CEB)
11 But as for you, man of God, run away from all these things. Instead, pursue righteousness, holy living, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Compete in the good fight of faith. Grab hold of eternal life—you were called to it, and you made a good confession of it in the presence of many witnesses. 13I command you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and Christ Jesus, who made the good confession when testifying before Pontius Pilate. 14 Obey this order without fault or failure until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15The timing of this appearance is revealed by God alone, who is the blessed and only master, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16He alone has immortality and lives in light that no one can come near. No human being has ever seen or is able to see him. Honor and eternal power belong to him. Amen.
17 Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. 19 When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life.
20 Timothy, protect what has been given to you in trust. Avoid godless and pointless discussions and the contradictory claims of so-called “knowledge.” 21 When some people adopted this false knowledge, they missed the goal of faith.
May grace be with you all.
Compete in the good fight of faith. Grab hold of eternal life—you were called to it, and you made a good confession of it in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
All of our lessons this quarter have been focused on faith. We have looked at how the faith of the early church sustained it as it spread in a turbulent era. We have seen how the faith of Daniel and his friends sustained them through persecution. We have explored how faith is expressed through our actions and words.
How fitting that we end this series of lessons with a passage from one man of faith to another. The elder one passing along the wisdom he gained at great cost over the years about what it means to endure in faith. (1 Timothy 1:1-2,) 1 From Paul, who is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.
Timothy was not a pastor, or elder, or bishop of the Ephesian church. He was doing what he often did for Paul––going into a difficult situation where true teaching and loyalty to Paul were needed.
Paul had used Timothy in other situations like this in 1 Corinthians 4:17 and 1 Thessalonians 3:2-6. Timothy acted as an ambassador for Paul. Not only was Timothy there to combat false teachers, but his job was to develop good leaders to sustain the congregation.
Instruction without love can become empty dogmatism. Love without instruction can become sloppy sentimentalism. Paul was well aware of the necessity of love and instruction. 1 Timothy 1:5 The goal of instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
Older pastors are fond of telling younger pastors, “They (one’s congregation) need to know you care before they will care what you know!”
Paul had given Timothy four commands: run, pursue, compete, and grab hold (verses 11-12). He gave those commands not on his own authority but in the presence of the life-giving God, on the authority of Christ Jesus, who was a witness before the powers of darkness (represented by Pilate) and obedient unto death.
No doubt Timothy would face opposition from the more educated. Knowledge was only a good thing for Paul if it pointed to the knowledge that begins in the worship of God and is grounded in the good news of God’s reign. Paul wrote about it in 1 Corinthians 8 that “makes people arrogant” (verse 1) and destroys “the weak brother or sister” (verse 11).
In our lesson Paul spoke of the goal of faith, which was, and is, becoming part of the body of Christ, looking forward to the hope of the resurrection. With false knowledge, people forget that they are saved by grace, through faith.
As older members of our congregation and communities we need to share our faith and how over the years this faith has sustained us. We do not need to say this is what we did in the olden days. Many among us are facing trials and temptations and need to know “Faith is a Victory” that overcomes the world.