Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

The Answer to Everything

I’ve been preparing lately to begin preaching through the book of 1 Timothy at GFC. Any time you begin a new book, there is always a lot of background reading that you have to do to set the stage for where the book is going to take you. Most of what you read never makes it into the sermons, but it helps you understand what are the main themes of the book, what’s the historical context, what’s the background of the people being talked about, and things like that.

In particular, I’ve been reading today all kinds of speculation about what the doctrinal problems were that faced Timothy and Titus in their local churches. Since Paul doesn’t specify in any of the three letters exactly what the heresy is that they’re dealing with, we’re left to fill in the gaps by putting together hints and drawing inferences — not ideal exegesis.

Anyway, this thought struck me as I was reading: ‘Isn’t it interesting that God never details for us what the doctrinal problem was; I guess he didn’t want us to know. I wonder why that is…?’

Then I got to a particularly helpful section of Mounce’s commentary where he says, basically, it doesn’t matter on one level what the issue was; Paul’s answer to everything is the gospel.

Ding! The bulb above my head flicked on.

The very fact that the individual errors aren’t highlighted serves to draw those problems to the background and highlight the one great thing that’s the answer to everything: the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s the point. No matter what the problem is in your local church, the answer is always found in a right understanding of what God has done for a fallen people in his Son Jesus Christ, by the power of his Holy Spirit.

And here’s how Mounce concisely summarizes that glorious gospel, the answer to everything:

God has acted in grace and mercy through the death of Christ with an offer of forgiveness, to which people must respond in faith, turning from evil, receiving empowerment through God’s Spirit, and looking forward to eternal life. (William D. Mounce, The Pastoral Epistles, WBC v.46, lxxvi.)

So if you want to be a part of the answer instead of a part of the problem in your church, ask yourself this: Am I focusing on the gospel? Is the gospel part of my conversation? Do I speak it with others? Is it an essential part of my ministry in my local church?

The gospel is glorious truth, and one that we can never major on enough. That’s what Timothy and Titus had to be reminded of and that’s what we must remember.

7 Comments

  1. That is so true! So simple, yet true! It’s all about the Gospel and what He has done for us! Tank you for sharing Julian!

  2. So encouraged you wrote this Jules, coz I just finished leading our young blokes’ Bible study through the pastoral letters, and we came to the exact same conclusion! If we’re not focused on the gospel, then we’re bound to face those disputes – so let’s keep the main thing the ONLY thing!

  3. well put and amen!

    soli Deo gloria!

  4. Hi, I landed at your site through Challies, but I was really interested in what you’ve come up with in your research for 1 Tim. I am preaching through it, and unfortunately, most of my research, or rather findings, was done during, not before the sermon series. Anyway I’ve been looking for people to chat with about the book. Maybe after you’ve done your research we can discuss??? I’ve got my ideas.

  5. Right on brother! Thank you for this message in a time of great need.

  6. I take it that Paul’s answer is the same as John’s answer in thinking about the “teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Rev 2:6, 15)!

  7. No truer words! Thank you for the reminder Julian. Ryan knows the trouble my church is currently facing, his encouragement and now your reminder serve me well to continue to focus on what is truly important.

    The never failing, indisputable truth found in the word of God, our Father.

    Thank you for the reminder “to be” part of the solution, speak up and out based on God’s guidence, and not sit on the sideline watching my church self destruct.

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