Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Unity In The Teaching of Apostolic Truth Yields Godly Love

"The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith." 1 Timothy 1:5

The late Dr. Ray Stedman unfolds 1 Timothy 1 revealing that Biblical Unity is achieved through teaching Biblical Truth, which is always under attack by the enemy because of it's the power to give new life through Christ. In the opening verses of Chapter 1, the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to

  • guard the Apostolic teaching
  • correct error and deception
  • present the Gospel that Timothy received from Paul

Timothy was sent to Ephesus to correct the false teachings and protect the pure and sound doctrine that Paul entrusted to him so that the church at Ephesus may:

  • be set free from the bondage of the old life, it's fleshly desires and philosophies
  • grow in the the newness of life by faith, through the indwelling Holy Spirit
  • become a vessel from which Godly love flows out to others

Dr Stedman describes why Biblical Truth must be guarded: is not merely belief. Faith is acting on the basis of facts which God has revealed. This is what the apostle is concerned about. That body of truth is unique in the world. In First Corinthians the apostle calls it that "secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification" (1 Corinthians 2:7 RSV).

It is the secret of how to release men and women from the bondage of evil of various forms in their lives and deliver them into the glorious freedom of the sons of God. That is the nature of the gospel.

It is so powerful and so radical that it is always under subtle attack both from without and within. That is why it is so necessary to ensure that the teaching is accurate and true and biblical, because, when it is, it delivers people, it frees people, it changes whole families; it has a powerful effect upon society. Jesus said that would happen: "If you continue in my word you shall be my disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free," (John 8:31-32 KJV). The world desperately needs men and women who have learned how to be free in Christ Jesus, to be what God has intended men and women to be. That is what the gospel can do.

...if the truth is being taught and preached and believed, it will always result in a loving congregation. Love is our aim. Love involves activity; speculation involves the mind. Love involves persons, service, compassion, involvement, care, time. That is the way you can tell the difference. The great thrust of the gospel is to produce loving people."

The apostle now traces the course of love back to its source, its origin... Paul says, "love that issues from a pure heart," and behind that, "a good conscience," and behind that, "sincere faith." Now, to begin at the end, faith is believing what God has said about the total end of your old life and the impartation of a new life identified with the righteousness of Christ -- that is what you believe. You are a new person; you are not the same. Everything of corrective nature in Christianity is to come back to that source.

Therefore, love begins with sincere faith that the great facts of the gospel are personally true of you. You are the one who died in Christ, and rose again with him, and are seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

The central task of leadership in any church is to see that the teaching is in line with the apostolic revelation, the word about Jesus -- "the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." That is the body of teaching to which a church should give itself. There are many other subjects that are right for Christians to pursue (the Scriptures encourage us to pursue various dimensions and divisions of human knowledge), but when you come to the church there is one body of teaching, and only one.

The church exists to declare this unique body of truth. Anything that differs is not to be taught in church...It is essential that there be unity in the teaching of a church. There are differences of style that are quite permissible; there are different gifts ...The heart of truth, however, must remain unsullied, because the Scripture is the most powerful weapon the church has to correct error and to deliver people from bondage into freedom. The teaching of the truth, therefore, must be central in the ministry.

...when it comes to teaching, that teaching must be clear and straight and true, and according to the apostolic witness. That is the first thing Timothy is charged to do: Stop the teaching that is different, and oppose these wrong concepts.

Read or listen to Dr. Stedman's complete study of 1 Timothy here.

Read or listen to a related message from Pastor Jamey Day The True Gospel Produces True Children of God.

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