Paul has written many epistles–which is another fancy word for “letter”. No doubt he was a prolific epistle writer. He has written many letters but only a handful of them have made their way into our Biblical canon as Scripture.
In all of his church letters to the church in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus, among others, we call these particular letters to the pastors Timothy and Titus, “The Pastoral Letters”. Less to do with the young men’s appointed titles but more to do with the subject and content of these letters: how to shepherd, love, and minister to the people in your church according to John 21.
How do we do this? And we need specific guidance here and the church then and the church now is leaning on Paul for his church planting experience. In other words, “Paul, what have you seen that works? What has the Spirit of God told you to do in a particular situation.”
Sometimes, I wish we had the initiating letters. You know, the ones from the Corinth would have been handy. And the ones from Timothy “Dear Paul” letters would have been helpful. But using the responses of Paul, we too can discern the will of God to help us what to do in the here and now. We must not be tempted to think that all of this helpful information is just optional to use if it best suits you. We are to receive these letters as Scriptures–just like Peter did when he rebuked those who would twist the word of God to own ill-gotten gains:
2 Peter 3:15-16 (CSB) Also, regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our dear brother Paul has written to you according to the wisdom given to him. He speaks about these things in all his letters. There are some things hard to understand in them. The untaught and unstable will twist them to their own destruction, as they also do with the rest of the Scriptures.
We are finishing up Paul exhortation to the Pastor Timothy and the church in Ephesus. Paul’s letter is not one of theological and doctrinal priority, like Ephesians, but one of pastoral concerns.
Let us finish out the book and see how Paul ends it.
1 Timothy 6:20–21 (CSB) 20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent and empty speech and contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge.
21 By professing it, some people have departed from the faith. Grace be with you all.
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you
2 Peter 3:17-18 (CSB) Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stable position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.
1 Peter 3:13-15 (CSB) Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear them or be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
Luke 12:8-12 (CSB) And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God, 9 but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. 10 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”
1 Timothy 4:14 (CSB) Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
2 Timothy 1:5-7 (CSB) I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am convinced, is in you also.
Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
avoiding irreverent and empty speech contradictions from what is falsely called knowledge
Protect what you are reading–especially online
1 Timothy 1:3-4 (CSB) As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach false doctrine or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith.
1 Timothy 4:6-7 (CSB) If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed. But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness.
Love conspiracy theories.
- A time before social media–it would be another 7 years before MySpace came online. The internet was just in its infancy. X Files show. Two FBI agents that investigated the paranormal. One major character, whom we didn’t know the name of, was simply called the Cigarette Smoking Man.
Tell you how far the conspiracy theories on this show went:
“What I don’t want to see is the Bills winning a Super Bowl. As long as »I’m alive, that doesn’t happen.”
An aide responded: “It is going to be tough, sir. Buffalo wants it bad.”
“So did the Soviets in ‘80,” replied the CSM (who is called Cancer Man by »Agent Mulder).
“Are you saying you rigged the Olympic hockey game?” asks an aide.
“What’s the matter, don’t you believe in miracles,” replied CSM.1
- This fictional sci-fi drama suggested that was one man responsible for the outcome of all major sporting events including the Buffalo Bills football team never winning a Super Bowl
- As a young impressionable 21 year old, I ate this up. It was so much fun.
- But that wasn’t real
- Now, in addition to TV and Movies making a huge impact on the way we think and feel, pales in comparison to the amount of information we consume from the Internet
- No one on the Internet is suggesting that some old white guy in a trenchcoat with a pack a day habit is controlling pop culture–no, what we are listening to and believing is a lot lot worse.
- I don’t have to call out anybody or name name of all the major “silly myths” running rampant through our eyes, minds, and hearts. If you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, God has told you and I to stop it.
The consequences for not knowing God
Hosea 4:6 (CSB) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from serving as my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your sons.
Isaiah 5:13 (CSB) Therefore my people will go into exile because they lack knowledge; her dignitaries are starving, and her masses are parched with thirst.
What are we to do
Malachi 2:7 (CSB) For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should desire instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the LORD of Armies.
1 Peter 2:9a (CSB) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession,
We are to proclaim the gospel of God
9b so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
David proclaims it this way:
Psalms 40:9-11 (CSB) I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed— as you know, LORD. I did not hide your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal your constant love and truth from the great assembly. LORD, you do not withhold your compassion from me. Your constant love and truth will always guard me.
Paul tells us to stop it and instead:
1 Timothy 4:13,15 (CSB) Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching… Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
What happens when you don’t?
By not proclaiming the gospel, not being ready to give a defense for the faith, not sitting under the preaching and teaching of the word, and instead listening to the world, you will depart from the faith
21 By professing it, some people have departed from the faith.
We have so many people, who grew up in church, and if I were to guess, not taught to fear God and run to God and give your sins over to Christ who is so willing and able to remove that backbreaking weight of sin in exchange with his light and easy weight of glory but instead were taught everything else not God. Go and listen to what passes as preaching. Go and check out Christian teachers and their hot takes on marriages, and singleness, and business and everything but not pointing to Christ.
We have so many people wanting to deconstruct something not Biblical, Orthodox, Historical Christianity that the were given as children and they are arming themselves with the wisdom and the philosophies and the silly myths of the world.
Young people are deconstructing. Old people are hearing silly myths. Most of us in-between just shrug our shoulders and give up. We are believing everything we are hearing but we have not turned our ears to God and his word.
Matthew 6:33 (CSB) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Life everlasting, joy, satisfaction, peace, and pleasures forever can only be found in God.
Listen to him. Pray and seek him. Listen to his word more so than anything else the world is trying to tell you.
Grace be with you all.
Where we have believed something that did not come from you, would you give us the gift to repent and turn our hearts towards you. Amen.
THE CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN REVEALS WHY BILLS LOST FOUR SUPER BOWLS. Alan Pergament. November 19, 1996. The Buffalo News. ↩︎