Friday, December 12, 2014

P2 God-empowered living - 1 Timothy 2:3-6

1 Timothy 2:3-8 "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."

Introduction and Review:
We closed out yesterday's post with this thought: Remember: God-empowered living, built upon prayer, is the primary call of the Christian. Having Biblically defined the God-empowered life, we can now notice how such a life is God calling the Christian to specifically.....

Pleasing God. 1 Timothy 2:3-4
1 Timothy 2:3-4 is one of the most important passages in the New Testament with regards to God's missionary heart. The text reads: "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." The underlined word "acceptable" could just as easily be translated "pleasing". Before we go any further into this verse, it is worth noting some things about what it means to bring pleasure to God, and how such a desire marks God-empowered living. 

Let me ask a simple question: are you and I interested in bring pleasure to God? The relationship my children and my wife and me have with one another is based upon the fundamental assumption that they have our favor. We are pleased with out children in-so-far as they are our children and we are their parents. However, can children bring pleasure or dis-pleasure to their parents? Certainly. When a child disobeys or does something to hurt another person or themselves, that causes the pleasantness of the relationship to be altered. Does that mean that the parent-child relationship is over? No, because biologically they are our children and we are their parents. However a family is so-much more than being about biological relationships. Their is relationship, communication, closeness, trust and all the factors necessary to ensure stronger bonds. 

Likewise in the Christian's relationship with the Heavenly father, we are related to Him spiritually through Jesus Christ. By the Holy Spirit we are partakers, fellowshippers in the Divine nature and have the very energies of His nature at work in us. (Philippians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:3-4). Remember: God-empowered living, built upon prayer, is the primary call of the Christian. This call for God-empowered living leads to a desire to please God and what will hopefully be..

Powerful testimony. 1 Timothy 2:3-4,8
We must not be content in being spiritual related to God and being "o.k" with getting to heaven. No. The Christian life is to be a God-empowered one that desires to bring pleasure to God. Such a life entails a relationship and fellowship with God that bears witness to others about such a reality. 

When we couple 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2:8, we see the clear linkage between prayer and evangelism. Mike Barnett, editor of the book: "Discovering the Mission of God", (IVP Academic, 2012 page 375), notes the importance of prayer and missions: 
"Why pray for God's missions and His missionaries? Because God always has and always will answer prayer. Whom should we pray for? The nations and missionaries. Pray for the nations to hear and understand the good news of Jesus Christ. Pray for missionaries to endure and develop Christlike character as they serve. How should we pray? For God's mission to be accomplished. Don't focus so much on plans, strategies, means and methods, but for God's will to be done - His Kingdom to come. These are the basics of praying strategically for God's mission and missionaries."

I remember years ago hearing someone say that a man is no greater in his public life than he is on His knees in prayer. When we pray for the lost, we not only pray for their salvation and pray for God to send others to the unregenerate. We must necessarily say with Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 6: "Oh Lord, send me!" When you and I get in order with God's purposes for evangelism, and couple that with prayer, God's effort in creating a testimony in and through out lives will affect people on a very personal level. In-as-much as the scripture are the means by which the Spirit of God affects conversion, it is by the means of consistent Gospel-witness both verbally and practically that such conversions are demonstrated to be true. Again: God-empowered living, built upon prayer, is the primary call of the Christian. The God-empowered life calls the Christian to please God by way of a powerful testimony. Unless God is empowering us, such truths will never be able to be lived out consistently nor in reality. Now notice the third area to which such a life call the Christian, namely....

Personal focus on Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5-6
How is it that Christians can retain a thorough Christ-centeredness in their lives? It all begins with prayer! It is no accident that Paul would insert in a section on prayer one of the most Jesus' saturated texts in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." The symmetry and beauty of these verses is so profound in bringing into focus the miraculous Person of the Son.

Jesus is Divinely able to keep us focused
First, the Mediatorship of Jesus, called by Bible teachers His "Session", has at its heart the purposes and power of prayer. As God, the Son is Divinely able to supply and be the focus of the God-empowered life, since He himself is God! The book of Hebrews is replete with reminders of how Jesus Christ is the Living Mediator who intercedes for us and makes such intercession possible. (Hebrews 7:25; 8:6; 9:15: 12:24). 

Jesus is humanly capable to empathize with us and by the Spirit encourage us to keep focusedSecondly, Jesus Christ as man has something in common with us and at the same time being God can connect us directly to the Father. The power of prayer truly means we are connected to that wondrous fellowship that exists between the Trinity through the ongoing Mediating ministry of the Son - Jesus Christ. 

As both God and man, Jesus is the proper focus Who can turn our duty toward Him into increasing delight
These thoughts are all to say that when the power of God is unleashed in our lives, the goal of being Christ-centered will go from a duty to a delight, being that prayer itself is only possible through Jesus Christ. By focusing on Jesus Christ in the God-empowered life, my attitude towards the things of God as been a "laundry list of have-to's" (church, witnessing, loving my neighbor, my enemies, my in-laws, reading my Bible, prayer) turns into labors of love or "want-to's". 

More tomorrow.....