The Charge

Posted: December 1, 2008 in 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 6:11-21, “The Charge”

Have you ever received a formal charge from someone? Sometimes a charge is given at high school or college graduations – at Eagle Scout ceremonies (court of honor), the Charge is a major part of the event. Lays out what’s expected of you as you’re sent off into the world with new responsibility.

As Paul closes his 1st letter to Timothy, he does so with a charge – laying out what’s expected of him as a minister of the gospel. In a sense, the whole epistle might be viewed as a “charge” from Paul to Timothy to teach sound doctrine & to establish the church according to God’s design – but in the close, the charge becomes even more evident (threefold). (1) Charge concerning Timothy’s character… (2) Charge concerning the wealthy… (3) Charge concerning the gospel… Why so serious? Why all these charges? Because although Timothy might be the lead elder/overseer in the church, it’s not Timothy’s church. It’s Jesus’ church! Thus Timothy (as do we) had the obligation to do what Christ Jesus was calling him to do – and nothing else.

1 Timothy 6:11-21 (NKJV)
– Charge to the man of God (character)…
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

A. Flee what things? What Paul was just talking about in the rest of Ch 6: rejecting the authority of the Bible, obsessing over words & arguments, using godliness as a means of gain, and loving money in greediness. The man (or woman) of God is supposed to flee these things! Like Joseph encountering the temptation of Potiphar’s wife, when we encounter the temptation of pseudo-religion, we’re to run as fast as we can in the other direction…
B. Don’t just flee from something; flee to something else. Pursue that which pleases God! Whether we’re talking about the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) or the qualifications for elders (3:2-6), these are all qualities that are borne out of the work God does in us as we seek after Him. The basic idea is that the false teachers seek after gain & riches; true Christians seek after Christ…
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

A. Don’t just flee; fight! In 1:18, Paul charged Timothy to “wage the good warfare”; here he picks up the theme again with athletic competition. “Fight” = agonizamai “compete – struggle – strive (agony)”. The charge to follow Christ, preach the gospel, and live righteously is not something that is given passively. We are to pursue it with passion & zeal!
B. What are we to fight for? To “lay hold on eternal life.” Is this ‘salvation by works?’ God forbid! We were “called” to eternal life! It’s not something that can be earned nor bought – it is something that must be given to us through the grace of God. God called us to Himself – the Holy Spirit convicted us of sin, righteousness, and judgment – the Lord Jesus made provision on our behalf…the only thing we did was simply respond in the faith He gave us. Salvation is a work of God; not man!
__a. What does it mean to “lay hold” of it? Simply to apprehend that which Christ Jesus has already apprehended for us. The Lord Jesus has already made us new creations (2 Cor 5:17) & the Holy Spirit empowers us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) – we are simply to believe these promises and walk in faith.
__b. There are a lot of people that say, “I’ll worship Jesus in Heaven; I’ll learn of Him there…that’s what eternal life is for.” Why wait? What on earth is possibly more important and pressing than worshipping our Savior now? Lay hold on eternal life NOW…
C. What does it mean that Timothy “confessed the good confession”? Some think this is a reference to Timothy’s ordination – others to his baptism…the basic idea is that Timothy at some point (if not continually) had publically confessed Christ as Savior & Lord. Paul’s reminding him, “You already made a public commitment – don’t lose heart in carrying it out.”
13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things [life has but one Source], and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,

A. Jesus also witnessed the good confession…He was silent before the Pharisees (Mark 15:3-5 – they didn’t really want an answer anyway), but with Pilate Jesus clearly stated who He is (Luke 23:3, John 18:37). Our Lord never asks us to do what He did not already do Himself – He is our example. We might not be called upon to confess Christ when our life is on the line, but we are all called to be witnesses of Him and confess Him continually…our lives ought to be continual ‘confessions’ of the gospel which saved us.
B. Paul’s point? He’s charging Timothy before our God, Creator, Lord, and Savior to keep on teaching sound doctrine & holding fast to the gospel. “this commandment” likely a reference to the entire letter & goes back to the idea of teaching no other doctrine (Ch 1:3)
C. For how long? Until Jesus comes back (literally, His “epiphany”)…until we see Christ’s face through death or rapture, we are to hold firm to the gospel in word and deed. [Winston Churchill after the Blitz] “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never –in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Likewise for us! We have an unrelenting enemy who tries to take us down at every opportunity. We live in a world that hates our Lord and would love to see us deny Him and His gospel. But we are to never give in – never, never, never, never!
15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

A. “He” = God the Father (context from vs. 16). God will send the Lord Jesus to receive His church in God’s own timing, which only He knows – and could happen at any moment.
B. God is the “blessed…Potentate”: We don’t use the word too much today – “potentate” in English refers to someone who has power/rule over others. In Greek (dunastes), the emphasis is on ‘power’ – it comes from the same root word as dunamis (miraculous power).
C. God is the “King of kings & Lord of lords”: In Rev 19:16, the same title is used of Christ Jesus – in both cases it signifies God’s ultimate authority. There is NONE higher than God – not even the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). The Devil’s authority is infinitely less than God because God is infinitely greater than all His Creation. Now put yourself in the shoes of a Roman citizen…if God is infinitely higher than Satan, how much higher is God over Caesar? In a culture where emperor-worship was encouraged (if not demanded outright), the Scripture puts the ‘mighty’ emperor in his place…he ain’t nothing compared to God! 🙂
__a. Every human being who ever existed – no matter how great or how small – how rich or how poor – how powerful or how humble – will one day bow the knee to the Ultimate King of all the Universe! … … Philippians 2:9-11 (9) Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, (11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. []
16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.

A. God is immortal: literally, He is “without death.” There will never be a point in which God comes to the end of His existence. By His own name, He is the “I AM” – the ever-existent One who was & is & is to come. More than never dying, God never had a beginning. In a sense, we all experience eternity through everlasting life/death – we will always exist in either heaven or hell for all time. Angels are everlasting beings. Any creature with a soul is an everlasting being. But although everlasting beings have no end, they certainly had a beginning. God never began; He always has been. He has no beginning & will have no ending – and none other in all creation is like Him because by definition, creation has a beginning; the Creator does not.
B. God “alone” is immortal: The statistics are pretty solid – 10 out of 10 people die. But God is God…and God the Father never dies. Even when Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross, God the Father & God the Holy Spirit was still living and active. The rest of us have a date with death or rapture – and ANY access we have to everlasting life comes through God alone via Jesus Christ.
C. God dwells in “unapproachable light”: God is clothed with light (Ps 104:2) & in eternity there is no need for a sun or moon because the Lamb of God Himself is our light (Rev 21:23) – but the emphasis isn’t so much on illumination as it is on His holiness. God is so holy that He is “unapproachable”. Before God gave Israel the 10 Commandments, He told Moses to cordon off Mt. Sinai so that people wouldn’t get to close (under penalty of death – Exo 19:12). Why? Because God is so holy that no man can presume to be worthy enough to approach Him…our sin defiles us.
__a. Yet this is exactly why the Incarnation of God (which we celebrate at Christmas) is so wonderful! We cannot approach God, so God approached us. The Word of God clothed Himself with flesh & dwelt among us, He took our sin upon Himself & died in our place at the Cross. Now in Christ, we can not only reverently & boldly approach God in prayer, but He’s called us to physically spend eternity with Him.
D. God is unseen: Because of His holiness, no one has seen God at any time (not even Moses – Moses saw the backparts of God) except the Son of God & Christ declared God to us. (John 1:18)
E. God is worthy of “honor & everlasting power”: Not only does God have all power and authority (vs 15)…think about this: God is worthy of MORE. For all time there have been creatures continually surrounding the throne of God worshipping Him & proclaiming His holiness & it’s never stopped because it is never sufficient. Our infinite God is worthy of infinite worship.
F. What does all this mean for us? THIS is the God we’ve been called to worship & proclaim! There is no greater privilege that can be bestowed on a man or woman than be called by the Holy King of kings to serve Him. Guess what? If you’ve been saved, you’ve been called!
– Charge to the rich & wealthy…
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

A. Before those of us not in the top 1% of the population start thinking these verses don’t apply to us…we’ve got to keep some perspective in mind. The poorest people in the United States are generally more wealthy than of the rest of the world’s population. In 2003 of the lowest 10% of US households in income, 91% owned a color TV – 74% owned microwave ovens – 47% owned clothes dryers…all considered luxuries 50 years ago. (Bruce Bartlett, Washington Times 10/6/2003) If you’re an American, you ARE rich!
B. Since we are rich, we ought “not to be haughty”: It’s not difficult to call to mind various people who flaunt their wealth & look down their noses at the masses – Christians shouldn’t be that way. Our sin left us just as guilty before God as the homeless man down the street – we are in just as much need of salvation as him.
C. We ought not “trust in uncertain riches”: We only have to watch the stock market the last few weeks to know that money is fleeting…here one day & gone the next. Yet so often we fall into the danger of trusting our money rather than the One who gave us our money. Trust in God! Jeremiah 9:23-24 (23) Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; (24) But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. []
D. But “enjoy” what God does give you: There’s no shame in being rich – God blessed many wealthy people (Abraham, David, Solomon, Joseph of Arimathea…even Job). We simply ought to enjoy these things in a way that brings glory to God.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

A. The best thing to be rich in? “Good works…” Goes back to where Paul left off earlier in Ch 6. Those who desire to be rich fall into a trap (vs 9), but those whom God has blessed with riches can use them in wonderful ways for His Kingdom. Mentioned last week that we can’t take it with us. But we CAN send it on ahead & store up a “good foundation” for eternity. Matthew 6:19-21 (19) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; (20) but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. [] The last line is the key: where’s your heart? Are you trusting in God & glorifying Him with what He’s given you?
B. The result? That the rich “may lay hold on eternal life” – just like Timothy. That they would experience that life God has for them. Paul’s not talking about “your best life now” in terms of material blessing – but he is referring to the spiritually abundant life of someone who knows what it means to walk with Jesus who IS the Life!
– Final charge…to keep the gospel.
20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.

A. Guard the gospel… Just as the gospel was committed into Paul’s trust (1:11), it was committed into Timothy’s. And through the centuries, it’s been committed unto us as well. There are always movements that run through Christianity (historical and present) that either try to water down the gospel until it’s meaningless universalism (generic pablum for the masses) or strip it of it’s grace until it’s nothing but rigid legalism. It is the responsibility of the Church (us! All true Christians) to keep it pure. We have the glorious privilege of proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins, rose from the dead, and offers forgiveness & eternal life to all who repent from their sins and trust Him by faith. May we guard the gospel fervently!
B. Avoid the apostasy… Timothy was undoubtedly going to encounter the false teachers Paul had been warning about & they’d expose themselves as profane “idle babblings” (literally “empty voices”) which lead to “contradictions of…[false] knowledge”. KJV says “science”, but Gk gnosis = “knowledge”. Paul hadn’t mentioned them directly so far in the epistle, but this could be reference to the Gnostic heresy he dealt with in Colosse. Could also be another reference to the false money-grubbing folks he’s mentioned so far. Some people like to make themselves sound smart through their words, but their ideas prove themselves to be more empty babbling.
__a. Whatever the case, some had listened to this false teaching & began to stray from the truth & faith in Christ. Christian, be forewarned. Guarding the gospel doesn’t just preserve the truth for others to hear, it protects us from the lies of the enemy that creep into the church.
C. Go in grace… And praise God for it! He gives us grace to hear the gospel, grace to receive the gospel, grace to stay in the gospel, and grace to witness to the gospel. All 100% dependent on the grace of God – and all to His glory.

3 sections, one main charge from Paul as he closed the letter: Do what God’s called you to do! God called Timothy to preach the pure gospel & Timothy was to do it. God called the rich & wealthy to give cheerfully, storing up for eternity and they were to do it. Their charges are ours as well…we’ve been entrusted with proclaiming and demonstrating the gospel of Christ & we ought to be doing it.

What has God called you to do? Maybe there’s something specific like a ministry in the church or someone God’s laid it on your heart to be a witness to… Maybe it’s something general given to the whole church that perhaps has fallen to the wayside (your personal worship or prayer time – living righteously in purity – being the epistle of Christ – bearing one another’s burdens)…

What are you waiting for? We’ve been charged by God Himself – so let’s be about doing what He’s told us to do!


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