SanLo Community, an update for the week of November 18, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Eric for the message from 1 Timothy 1:12-20, “A Soldier’s Thanksgiving.” There are many things to be thankful for, especially the freedoms we enjoy in this country. As a Christian, have we lost sight of the battle that we are in? Do we forget that there is a spiritual war going on? The Apostle Paul never lost sight of this fight. In his letter to Timothy, he uses illustrations of a soldier, a man at war, and the Almighty God. Paul says - Fight the good fight of faith. Paul reminds us that we are in a battle for the ages. As a soldier of Christ enlisted in His service, what can we give thanks to God for?
1) We give thanks for the grace of God. (vv.12-14) Paul begins by expressing his thanksgiving to Christ Jesus for salvation and service. God has considered him faithful, not by any of his good works or future deeds, but by the grace of God. Here faith is seen as a gift from God, not a work of man. Out of grace comes faith. God has appointed Paul into His service, into His armed services. Paul is an enlisted soldier of God and so are we. His life has been transformed and changed by the power of the grace of God. Paul deeply understood the gravity of sin so that he could deeply understand the grace of God. We can give thanks for the undeserved favor of God that we never earned or deserved. Then, in verse 15, Paul switches gears. He goes from his own personal testimony to a universal testimony of the gospel. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. Paul throws himself at the top of the list of sinners saved by Christ. However, this is a definite universal statement of salvation for the world being saved by Christ. Christ Jesus came into the world as God’s one and only Son, pre-existent, not created, but God. Then Paul says, in verse 16, I have received this grace, but not only grace, but mercy and perfect patience of God. God never gave up on Paul even when he was murdering Christians. God was patient with Paul. God was long-suffering with Paul. He does the same for us. In Paul’s inclusion of himself, he’s not trying to be ultra-humble, but I believe Paul understood deeply for himself the depravity and the magnitude of his sin both at his conversion and in life. Pastor C.J. Mahaney says it well, “Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace.” The more we understand the depravity and the ugliness of our sin, the more we will grow to cherish God’s amazing grace and the deeper we will grow in our thanksgiving for God. See your need for God. Come to know the only answer which is found in Jesus Christ. Come believe and put your faith in Christ today for then you can truly cherish God and His grace.
2) We give thanks for the glory of God. (v.17) Paul is so grateful for the grace of God that it causes him to break out in praise and in song. Paul praises God for several characteristics. God is King, but not any king. He is the King of Kings, the commander of the Universe, who controls every nation, every tribe, and every tongue. He is immortal. He never grows tired or weary. He never changes. He lives forever and forever. He is the only infinite God. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. He is invisible. Our God is beyond limits of what we can see or even imagine. We can try all we want to think about what God is like, but we’ll never come close to seeing or even thinking of what He is like. God must be that different and that distant, that our wildest imaginations don’t come close. He is indescribable and unimaginable as only God can be. In our world today, we have lost that great sense of awe and wonder of God. At moments, Thanksgiving has lost its true reverence for God to lesser and smaller gods. President, George Washington instituted Thanksgiving with a proclamation which rings with biblical awe and praise of God. Our founder’s intent for Thanksgiving was a prayer and praise to the Almighty God. Will you make the same proclamation? Let this week be about singing the praises and thanks of our glorious King. Let this week be putting Christ in the center of everything.
3) We give thanks for the call of God. (vv.18-20) In verse 18, Paul provides a charge or command to Timothy. He is like a father to Timothy. This is a personal announcement and order given to his young apprentice. Paul talks about the affirmations and instructions made of him by Paul and others within the church. They are the good reports of Timothy’s character, lifestyle, and ministry stating that Timothy is ready for the battle. He is ready to be in charge. He is ready to be in the fight, and it’s a good fight. There is a clear and strong emphasis here that Timothy will be going into battle. It is a clear reminder that the Christian life is NOT a walk in the park or just a free pass out of Hell. We are all enlisted soldiers in the army of God. We are in a fight for the ages, which praise God, has already been won. Along the way we are to do battle with the greatest enemy in the universe, Satan, and we are waging against our greatest weakness, sin. We get the honor to contend for Jesus. Therefore, let us be vigilant over our lives and how we live. Let us not fall into temptation or laziness for the battle is at hand.
Paul continues to exhort in verse 19 and 20, with a warning. Hymenaeus and Alexander are examples of fallen leaders and believers. They wandered from the faith and the gospel, and they became false teachers. So Paul hands them over to Satan. What does that mean? This means they were probably excommunicated from the church. Paul enacted church discipline upon these two men, because they had become detrimental to the church and others as they were teaching false doctrine and a false gospel. Before you judge Paul and say that sounds so un-Christian and un-loving, Paul exercises church discipline with the purpose to bring them to Christ. It is done in the hope that they see their mistakes in order to come back to the Lord and then the church. Paul here provides Timothy and us a warning but more importantly, a calling.
So, how about you? How has the Lord led you? How has the Lord graced you to be a part of His team? How has God called you out to serve and to fight for Him? Maybe you feel unworthy to be a part of God’s team. If God can take the chief persecutor of the church and turn him into the chief missionary of the church, then God can certainly use you. Maybe you feel unequipped to serve on God’s team. Timothy felt a lot like that. He was younger than Paul, and he was possibly timid and shy. Yet, God made him the next leader of the church. Maybe you feel burnout or tired from contending for God. Paul knew exactly how you felt, because he had been shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and even stoned. Yet, these were Paul’s words: I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord. It is through the same empowerment and strength of our gracious and glorious God that we too, will finish the race and are called to serve our King. So, this Thanksgiving let us give thanks to our gracious and glorious God who calls us to serve Him. Let us hold firmly to our Majestic Savior and Lord who strengths each of us hourly and daily to praise and to proclaim His name. Let us not give up in doing good for the proper time will we reap a harvest.