How to stand with Timothy (part 1)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Timothy 1:1-2
How do we stand with Timothy in faithfully transmitting the gospel message given to us by the apostles? How can we be, in some sense, Paul’s “own [true] son in the faith”? There are two controlling convictions a church must have if it would identify with the early church and its message. (We will deal with the first today, and with the second tomorrow.)
First, we must have complete confidence in the Bible as the Word of God. That is, it must believe that God has spoken through the authors in the Bible so that when they speak, God speaks. In his letter to Timothy, Paul begins by underlining the authority of his message and he ends on exactly the same note in 1 Tim. 6:20-21. The church must do this; otherwise, the Bible becomes just a bunch of “good ideas” that may be discarded or declared as is deemed convenient. The reasons for this are as follows.
1. There has never been a period of history where the message of the Bible has been popular. To hold to its truths requires courage, the will to be in the minority, the ability to face down rejection because of its message. The only way to do this without losing heart is to have the confidence in the face of the world’s sneer that the Bible speaks the truth.
2. What the Bible commands us to do is not easy. It tells us to die, to mortify the flesh. To inherit the kingdom of God through much tribulation. It tells us to love the lost while being hated by them. You won’t do what the Bible commands, and you won’t walk down the road that is narrow and strait unless you are absolutely convinced that God’s word is true.
3. What the Bible tells us to believe is not easy. It tells us that we are wicked and deserving of God’s eternal judgment. It tells us that we cannot save ourselves, that we must rely entirely upon the mercy of God in Jesus Christ who is the only person who fully obeyed God and offered up a sacrifice to atone for the sins of men. It promises us “blood, sweat, and tears” for the present, that our inheritance must wait for the other side of death.
In any case, this is what the Bible is; it is the Word of God. To take any other stand is simply to fail to honor God’s Word for what it is. It is hard to see how God would honor that. Why would God honor a project that is based on the assumption that his Word is mixed with error?
It is also necessary to point out that it is not enough to simply hold to the doctrine of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. We can be like the son who said, “I go” and went not. We can congratulate ourselves on our orthodoxy when we do not love the God of the Bible. We must not only believe the Bible is the word of God; we must listen to it, and obey it. We must hear the word of God gladly and with faith obey it.