Glorious Gospel Ministry
Key theme/verse: How to behave in the church? 3:15
So far Paul has concentrated on the Glorious Gospel, particularly on impact is should have in our lives:
- Glorious Gospel Teaching (1:1-10): Teaching sound doctrine -> love
- Glorious Gospel Living (1:11-20): Living with clear conscience (in light of Gospel) !-> shipwreck
- Now Glorious Gospel Ministry:
- prayer for government – vertical
- testimony to gentiles – horizontal
- Why? -- God’s desire for all to acknowledge truth of Gospel – salvation
2:1–7 – How to behave in the church? Fervent prayer + Forthright testimony
Why we must behave as Paul urges
But before we examine them in detail, we must ask, “Why?” Why should be behave this way? Why bother to pray for others? Why bother to witness to them? Why “interfere” with what they believe?
Paul brings us back to the Gospel. If we believe the Gospel, our doctrine will be sound, and our consciences will be clear (ch 1). But the Gospel is not simply my individual salvation. God desires “all people to be saved and come to acknowledge the truth”
Gospel is a universal message of salvation
“for all people” – all people without distinction, not all people without exception (as in all 4x here). Salvation is not a national thing, just for the Jews, or an individualistic thing, just for me.
The Gospel is a unique message of salvation
“acknowledge truth ... one God ... one mediator ... ransom for all”. This shows that the Gospel is not simply one message of salvation among many, but the only message of salvation in the world. The universal claim of the Gospel is based on the unique claim of the Gospel. It is for all people, because there is only one God, only one mediator, and only one way of salvation.
It is popular today to think that we can all have our opinions about anything and everything. You believe in one God, others can believe in many gods, still others in no god, and even others can believe they are god themselves. Who’s to say anyone is right? Maybe no one is right. Maybe everyone is right. As long as it’s right for you, and you don’t insist on everyone believing what you believe, we can all get on fine. Problems arise when one group insists they are right and everyone else is wrong. This often leads to offence, violence, even bloodshed.
The Christian who believes the Gospel, and the sound doctrine that goes hand in hand with the Gospel, cannot subscribe to that view – because it simply isn’t true. God himself has revealed The Truth. Jesus said, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life” (Jn 14:6). If anyone would be saved, they will have to acknowledge The Truth. That is our experience. If you’re not a Christian, then that is the point you will have to accept before you can experience God’s salvation.
Salvation is not a matter of what works for you or for me, but what works because that is the way God has designed it. If you don’t believe this, you don’t believe The Truth.. Notice what is involved in this truth.
Christ is Mediator between God and men.
Mediation implies separation, people at variance or in dispute. When people are together and agreed there is no need for a mediator.
At the heart of the Gospel is bad news that we must face. We are not on speaking terms with God. Remember how Adam in the Garden fled and hid. He didn’t want to speak to God. God came to speak to him, so it’s clear the problem lay on the human side of the relationship, not the divine.
Adam didn’t want to speak to God because he hadn’t listened to God, but rather to his wife. Now that’s not always a bad thing in my experience. A good wife can often tell her husband the truth he’s failed to see. But Eve’s advice was flawed because she’d not listened to God either; she’d listened to the Serpent, and he as totally opposed to God.
But, of course, this wasn’t simply some minor disagreement that had led Adam to huff with God. It was sin – the deadly, terminal spiritual disease that Adam caught in the Garden and which has been transmitted to every human being ever since without exception.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV) – Death in Adam, Life in Christ
12 Therefore, just as sthrough one man sin entered the world, and tdeath through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
It is not some genetic abnormality that affects one person in so many thousand. It affects one person in every one. It is inescapable, and if left untreated is terminal, but it is far from incurable.
Romans 5:11 (NKJV)
11 And not only that, but we also rrejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Reconciliation is possible, and the peace broker is the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are to be rescued from this separate state of affairs, we need to the services of a qualified, professional, competent, experienced mediator.
Job 9:32-33 (NKJV)
32 “For He is not a man, as I am,
That I may answer Him,
And that we should go to court together.
33 Nor is there any mediator between us,
Who may lay his hand on us both.
Job lived as long before Christ as we live after. But Job’s prayer has been answered, his heart-felt longing has become a reality – his name is Jesus Christ. He is fully divine, and fully human. He can represent both sides fairly, and command the confidence of both parties.
Christ is ransom for all
But notice how 1Tm 2 does not stop at reconciliation. It goes onto ransom. Reconciliation is achievable. Indeed, reconciliation has been achieved, but at a price, a price we dare not pay, even had we the resources.
Romans 5:10 (NKJV)
10 For oif when we were enemies pwe were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved qby His life.
If our death could have effected reconciliation there would be no life to live in its enjoyment.
Deathbed reconciliations can be moving, but there is nothing to share between the reconciled parties. By dying as a ransom, Christ’s reconciliation of us to God provides the means for us to live in the enjoyment of that reconciliation. He died that we might live.
If the Gospel brings us face to face with the bad news – reconciliation is needed – it also brings us face to face with the good news – reconciliation has been provided, the ransom has been paid. If we will but come to acknowledge the truth, it can be ours. The price God demanded and his holy law required for our sin was death. Christ’s innocent, vicarious death on our behalf has paid our ransom.
In Rm 5:15-21 Paul shows how truly excellent the good news of the Gospel really is.
Romans 5:15-21 (NKJV)
15 But the free gift is not like the 5offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded wto many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many 6offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s 7offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore, as through 8one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through xone 9Man’s righteous act the free gift came yto all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by zone Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
20 Moreover athe law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace babounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
How must we behave?
If we ask the question he poses in Rm 6:1, “What shall we say then?” in the context of 1Tm 2.
Now if we believe the truth – this truth. What do we do about it?
This is a universal truth – it must have some impact on us. Some truth has limited impact. For example, the truth that water boils at 100C (at normal atmospheric pressure, at sea level, etc.). Do you believe it? I’m sure you do. And it has an effect on you: you make cups of tea or coffee, boil water, etc. You don’t put your finger into boiling water, nor do you let your children put their fingers into it. But you don’t pray that everyone in the world will be convinced of it, and you don’t hold meetings to testify to the fact, to persuade unbelievers.
But the truth of Scripture is so more important than that. Paul urges two responses:
- Fervent prayer + Forthright testimony
What will Christians who believe the Gospel, the good news, do?
Prayer is the first thing Paul urges because it is the most important. It is more important than preaching/testifying, though preaching is not unimportant. But by focusing on prayer first, we focus on God. We express our reliance on God, and place our trust in God.
Notice how the scope of our prayers is to be comprehensive: supplications = requests in which we may be involved in meeting the need or supplying the answer; prayers = requests that only God can answer; intercessions = “an intimate petition made by a friend to a king on behalf of someone else” (Ray Stedman, citing someone else); and thanksgivings = obvious, and often expressed in hymns and songs. All kinds of things need to be dealt with in prayer.
We ought to pray for those who simply don’t pray for themselves – unbelieving men and women in the world around us, and particularly for rulers – men with responsibility under God to rule their people well. If they would create a favourable political and social climate, the gospel will flourish. Such prayer is pleasing to God, and surely such action is pleasing to God, too.
If a ruler sets himself against God and his Gospel, it certainly doesn’t please God. That man may well bear the personal consequences of that stance, and undoubtedly his nation will suffer consequences. In fact, at the time Paul was writing, the Emperor was none other than Nero! He was no friend of Christians, and yet Paul urges us to pray for such men.
Ungodly rulers don’t thank God, or ask him for his help. But yet as Christians we have the privilege of doing such things on behalf of ignorant and uncaring men. They are servants of God, and so are we. (cf Job’s example of intercession for his family)
In taking such initiative we are showing the great impact our reconciliation with God has made on us. We used to be in such a state of rebellion against God ourselves. But God didn’t leave us in that state, though undoubtedly we deserved all the consequences that come from it.
Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV) -- Christ in Our Place
6 For when we were still without strength, 4in due time kChrist died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But lGod demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God took the initiative for us. We cannot take such an initiative as God took for unbelievers, but the kind of prayer Paul urges on us here demonstrates precisely the same kind of attitude God demonstrated toward us.
The aim of the prayer is not quiet life, for its own sake, that we may escape trouble, and do as we please. But the kind of life that takes the opportunities to share the good news, which is the second implication Paul draws out here – to give testimony. The opportunities are so much greater when the state is not in active hostility to Christians and the preaching of the Gospel.
What is the proper time for such forthright testimony? Paul is certainly not saying the only time we can witness is when the circumstances are favourable. His own life was often one of hardship for preaching the Gospel in hostile circumstances. Later he commands Timothy to preach “in season and out of season” (2Tm 4:2).
Christ himself warned his disciples that the world would hate them as they proclaimed his message. Ostracisation and death would be their lot on occasion when they gave forthright testimony.
John 16:33 (NKJV)
33 These things I have spoken to you, that kin Me you may have peace. lIn the world you 6will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, mI have overcome the world.”
So as Paul has sought in this passage to urge us to behave aright in the church of God, he has brought us back to the Gospel once again, to see the unique and universal truth of the Gospel. To see how Christ is reconciler, and ransom. And to see the implications of such a gospel.
He urges us to engage in fervent prayer, for all people – those who fail to see their need, and particularly for rulers and leaders whose responsibility is so much greater.
He also urges us to engage in forthright testimony, declaring this glorious Gospel to all men everywhere, without distinction. It is a universal and unique message – the only way of salvation.
Such was the practice of the Apostle Paul, and we do well to imitate such a servant of God.
And such practice reflects in a small way the heart of Christ himself, who mediated on our behalf, and did not hesitate to declare forthrightly to all their need of salvation (“I tell you the truth” was the constant prefix to many of his messages – and here Paul seems to mirror that phrase in what he writes) , and the means by which they might/must attain it – The Glorious Gospel.