Saturday, June 29, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday June 30, 2013

(How to grow strong in GOD’s work)
2 Timothy 2

In 2 Timothy 2, verses 1-15, Paul stresses the importance of applying GOD’s word “the right way”, and “following GOD’s rules only, when doing GOD’s work”. In verses 1-2, we can readily see two things;
·         First, we see “reception of faith”, which is based on “the hearing of GOD’s word”.
·          And then, we see “transmission of faith”, which is based on “the spreading of GOD’s word”.
Timothy had received the truth of GOD’s word from Paul, and the words he had heard were confirmed by witnesses, who had also found GOD’s truth, through Paul’s teachings, and had seen that truth, work in their own lives.  Everyone who hears the word will not be able to teach the word in a formal setting, however, even those who don’t have the gift of expression can become vital witnesses to the affects that GOD’s word has had on their own lives.
In verses 3-4, Paul tells Timothy that, as a “soldier” in CHRIST’s army, he must endure suffering, just as CHRIST had done, and, just as he himself has done while he continues to fight to uphold GOD’s standards. If you become too involved and engaged in the things and pleasures of this world, you cannot possibly satisfy the one who enlisted you in his army, and that is, CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF.
In verse 5, Paul quickly shifts from using the analogy of a soldier, to engaging the metaphor of an “athlete”, to describe the “self discipline” one has to have in order to run the Christian race. The Christian race “must be run by GOD’s rules”, in order to win GOD’s rewards at the finish line.
Those of us, who are called to “spiritual leadership in GOD’s work”, (for example, teachers, pastors, elders, deacons, etc.), can only do that work properly, if they do it according to GOD’s rules. It can be a disturbing thing if a person crosses the finish line of a race, thinking they’ve won, only to find out later from the judge, that they have been disqualified, because they didn’t follow the rules of the race.
The final analogy that Paul presents in this passage is that of a “farmer” (v.6). The emphasis here is placed on the word “hardworking”, which is, in the Greek “kopiao” (kop-ee-ah-o), which is “the fatigue one feels as a result of one’s toils or hard labors”.
The diligence Paul describes, in each instance, will have its rewards at the end of the struggle:

·         The soldier will win the praise of his commanding officer.
·         The athlete who runs by the rules will win, and get to keep his prize.
·         The hardworking farmer will be the first to enjoy his crop.

Christian success is achieved through discipline, hard work, and, by remaining undivided in one’s allegiance to GOD. JESUS CHRIST is our great example of endurance, faith and discipline, and HE is the subject of the Good News, of which we preach and teach about. We are responsible to HIM to make our life on earth conform more fully to the word of GOD, just as HE presented it to us, during HIS three-year earthly ministry. And so, we should work hard, so GOD will approve us in the way that we correctly preach and teach HIS word, and do HIS work, by HIS rules, not by ours.
In 2 Timothy 2, verse 14, as it is expressed in his original Greek writings, the word Paul uses for “subverting” is “katastrophe” (kat-as-trof-ay), and it means “to overturn, demolish, or ruin”. It is from that word that we derive our English word “catastrophe” and this is the only place in Scripture, were this particular word is found.
Here Paul is urging Timothy to remind the believers not to get into arguments over words, because such arguments are not only useless, but, they can also destroy and tear down the faith of those believers, who hear them. He further urges Timothy to, instead, work hard, and don’t let words become a substitute for deeds. That way, GOD will always approve him (v. 15). Paul also tells Timothy that, he never has to be ashamed when he correctly explains the word of the truth of the Gospel, and that, GOD-less, foolish discussions only lead to more ungodliness (verse 16).
GOD’s truth must be a Christian’s only foundation stone”, as the LORD knows just who HIS people are. Anyone who claims to belong to the LORD must first turn away from all wickedness of this world. In 2 Timothy 2, verse 19, Paul gives us a rather vivid image of what could be a “two-sided seal”. This seal can be used to explain GOD’s omniscience on one side, and our behavior, as Christians, on the other side. Here, Paul is reminding us that GOD sees all, hears all, and knows all that we do.
The Christian must take on the same attitude of a Hagar, after she had spoken with the angel of the LORD that day at the well, which was later named “Beer-lahairoi”, located between Kadesh and Bered. From that day forward she would refer to the LORD, as “The GOD WHO sees me” (Genesis 16:7-15).
It is the will of GOD, that man not be able to see, into another person’s heart, however, what GOD does allow us to see, is the commitment and behavior of a person, once CHRIST takes up residence in their lives. The choices we make each day will either tarnish us so GOD can’t use us, or polish us so that HE can use us for every good work (2 Tim. 2:20-21).
The committed Christian must move away from those things that tempt us to do evil, and move toward those things that spur us to righteousness. We must pursue faith, love, and peace, and also, seek the companionship of those who seek after righteousness with the earnest expectations of the fulfillment of GOD’s promise (verse 22).   
Remember, unbelievers are sinners just like us, but only, they still remain blinded to the truth of the Gospel. Satan’s influence still holds most people captive, and as a result, they are still thoroughly enjoying their sinful lives. They may not even believe in the existence of GOD or satan, but either way, satan is in complete control of their lives.
We must not spend a lot of time arguing with those who are not yet receptive to word of GOD (the world). Remember too, that, we only “plant seeds”, and “water”, and that GOD THE CREATOR is the only ONE, WHO can change a person’s heart, so that their lives will show an increase. We, as mere humans, will never be able to change another person’s heart, no matter how long we sit there and argue with them. We can only change those things, which we ourselves create, and mankind, is not one of those things. We can only plant the seeds that GOD gives us through HIS word, and HE is totally in charge of the increase, or, positive change.
Our charge is to use gentleness and patience as tools to make us effective teachers. And all the while, we should pray that GOD will perhaps, choose to change those person’s hearts, so that they may be able to accept and grow in the truth, and thereby, escape the chains by which satan holds them captive.
And perhaps most importantly, we who are striving everyday to bring people to CHRIST, must be extremely careful to keep ourselves in the will of GOD, at all times displaying right behavior, publicly and privately, lest we ourselves, be in danger of rendering our own efforts and ministry, ineffective.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Saturday, June 22, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday June 23, 2013

(Remember and share your heritage of faith)
2 Timothy 1

After winning release from his first imprisonment in Rome in A.D. 63, Paul went on to preach in Spain for a short while. Soon afterwards, hostility initiated by the Emperor Nero, toward the early Christian Church in Rome, was intensified. Nero had hoped to divert attention from himself, as he, at that time, was under suspicion of being involved in a disastrous fire that had destroyed a large section of Rome in A.D. 64. It was this new wave of persecution that led to the eventual deaths, of both Paul and Peter circa A.D. 68.
And so it was, that, the guidance of the Christian Church would have to be passed on to the next generation, where both Timothy and Titus had certainly proven themselves as strong young leaders. Paul had worked diligently to get them trained and experienced in his final years of ministry, and he was very confident that they would be able to carry on in his absence, once the LORD had called him home.
Paul’s return to Rome did indeed lead to his final imprisonment, and, it was during this incarceration, that, he wrote this second and final letter of instructions to Timothy. In fact, this letter is Paul’s last known written communication, and shortly thereafter, according to Jewish tradition, he was beheaded near the end of the reign Nero.
Here in 2 Timothy, Paul looks back on his own life with a deep feeling of satisfaction. He has kept the faith, and he looks forward to the rewards he is sure to claim at the end of his race. But Paul also has words of encouragement, and warning, for young Timothy. He tells him that he must remain totally committed, and must be ready for the mounting difficulties, and new challenges that had developed from within the church.
The values and commitments that Paul imparts to Timothy are something that, we today, can also readily adopt to help enrich our own lives. Today’s professed Christians must seriously “fan into flames, the spiritual gifts that GOD has given us”, not using them for selfish gains, but rather, using them to promote the plan of GOD in the world.
In 2 Timothy 1:2, as expressed in the original Greek, the word Paul uses for the term “dearly beloved” is “agapetos” (ag-ap-ay-tos). It is a term of deep and warm affection, that, Paul often used to address and greet his favorite son, student, and brother in CHRIST, Timothy. However, it is rather fascinating that in this letter, Paul is urging his “dear son” Timothy to follow him in full commitment to a ministry that had brought, he himself, tremendous suffering, persecution, and ultimately, death by execution in Rome.
This attitude would be held in stark contrast to the things most parents would want for their children, then and now. We always want for our children, a life of much less hardships than we ourselves had to endure in our lifetimes. However, as Christians, we are called to suffer by our LEADER, CHRIST JESUS, because, like HIM, the only way for us to get to heaven is through the cross. We must follow JESUS, and that means going the way HE showed us to get to glory (through suffering for HIS cause, which is also our cause). GOD has not given us the spirit of fear and timidity.
After Paul’s warm greeting to Timothy (Vs.1-2), he sets out again to encourage him to remain faithful, and to remember the heritage of faith that was instilled in him by his mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois.  He also urges young Timothy to rekindle the flames of his passion for the spiritual gift that GOD bestowed upon him that day, when Paul first laid hands on him, back in Lystra, Timothy’s home town (Acts 16:1-3).
And so in our key verse in this passage, verse 6, Paul shares with Timothy, the four qualities that should characterize every Christian teacher; they are;

·          The first one is “Courage” (GOD did not give us the spirit of fear, so DON’T BE SCARED),
·         The second is “Power” (GOD always gives us the power to do what HE calls us to do, and so we don’t need to supply our own power. We only need to be willing to do what GOD says do),
·         Thirdly, Paul says we have to have “Love” (love is the greatest of the “three great enduring things” (1 Cor. 13:13), the other two being “faith” and “hope”. Without love, which is the most excellent gift of all, nothing that we do is of any good),
·         And finally, there is “Self-discipline” (without self-discipline one can never carry out the task of doing GOD’s will. An undisciplined person will eventually squelch the power of the HOLY SPIRIT in them, causing HIM to be of none-effect in their work and life).

We, as Christians, must never be ashamed to proclaim the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, and, we must forever be ready to suffer for the CHRIST, who suffered and died for us. It is GOD, WHO chose us to live a holy life, and HE did not choose us because we deserved it, but rather, HE is carrying out HIS eternal plan to show HIS love for us, and kindness to us, through our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST (verse 8-9).
GOD, through HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, broke the power of death, over us, and showed us the way to eternal life, through faith in HIM (v.10). And so, just like Paul, we, as Christians, must be willing to suffer for the faith, we say we hold, and then be willing to pass that heritage of faith on to the next generation. And remember, CHRIST died for us, and now, we, in return, must live for HIM (v.13), and THE ALMIGHTY GOD knows, that’s the very least that we can do. Amen.
As we know, we can’t always depend on people to stand with us in our fight for anything, let alone our fight for the things of our “invisible GOD”, WHOM we’ve chosen to serve. Most people in the Christian church are not going to embody those four characteristics that I talked about earlier, such as Phygelus and Hermogenes, whom Paul mentions in the closing verses of this chapter (v.15), however, GOD always sends us special people like Onesiphorus and his family (Vs.16-18) who remained faithful to GOD, and to the Apostle Paul, over the years. GOD sees our struggles and knows our weaknesses and limitations, and when we reach points that seem impossible for us to overcome, GOD is faithful to lift us up, and carry us on to our next appointed destination.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Saturday, June 15, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday June 16, 2013

(Pursue the spiritual over the material)
1 Timothy 6

The Greek word “eusebeia” (yoo-seb-i-ah) which means “godliness” is only found in the New Testament in the “Pastoral Letters” of the Apostle Paul, and, in Second Peter. It describes a reverent faith which expresses an awe of GOD that is coupled with a desire to be obedient to GOD, and, to do GOD’s will, at all times. 
In First Timothy 6, after reminding Christian servants (those who work under the authority of either, Christians or non-believers) to always show respect and work hard for their superiors (Vs.1-3), Paul then gives a final warning to Timothy about the prevailing threat, and indeed, the reality of false doctrine that was already infiltrating the Christian Church in its infancy.
The Greeks of the first century were fascinated by fancy speech, pretty much as we are today in the twenty-first century. They loved to hear a good and trained motivational speaker who could deliver a good word, and entertain a gullible audience. It was against this type of backdrop that false teachers came preaching their religious jargon to the newly formed Christian Church where Timothy resided at, in Ephesus.
The Church gave these savvy speakers a new forum in which to work their magic charm, and, to make themselves rich and famous at the same time. They cared nothing about the sound doctrine of JESUS CHRIST that Paul had birthed the Church with, and they just simply wanted to promote themselves, under the guise of being holy men of GOD.
Paul warned Timothy that anybody who taught anything different than what he had already been taught was both conceited, and ignorant. Such people possess an unhealthy desire to argue over words that would lead to jealousy, slander, and evil suspicions. Their minds are corrupt, and they are only looking for power and prestige in the church. To them, religion was just another way to get rich, and, to increase their evil influences.
Paul tells us in verse 6 that true religion with contentment is great wealth. We didn’t bring anything into this world, and it is a certainty that we can’t take anything of a material nature out of this world when we die. We have to allow ourselves to be content with having enough for our daily needs. That must be the attitude of a true Christian, as having any other mindset puts us at a greater risk of being tempted by satan into abandoning GOD’s plan, and thereby, piercing ourselves with many sorrows as a result (Vs.6-10).
The Christian who is willing to leave material things behind in their pursuit of an experiential relationship with GOD, stands to gain far greater treasures than the earthly perishables that he or she has long become accustomed to valuing and desiring. When we choose to go the way of CHRIST JESUS, we gain insurmountable spiritual gains such as the following;
·         We gain a personality that begins to exhibit GOD’s transforming works in our lives to others.
·         We begin to share the mind of CHRIST in our thinking, as we are more and more attuned to the things of GOD.
·         We gain a heart that beats more in sync with GOD’s OWN heart.
·         We gain a will that shapes all of our choices so that they might glorify GOD more, and glorify our selves less.
·         We store up spiritual gains that we can indeed, take with us, when we are forced to part with the material things, and the evil influences from the people (gravitational pull) of this world.

In verses 11-16, Paul urges young Timothy to shun, or turn his back to the evil influences of this world, because he belongs to GOD. People who truly belong to GOD are interested only in pursuing a GODly lifestyle, one that includes love, faith, perseverance, and gentleness. They have to fight the “good fight” for what they believe in, and in other words, they must defend the Gospel of CHRIST with their whole life. And at the right time, CHRIST will be revealed from Heaven by the almighty GOD the FATHER, as being the KING of Kings, and the LORD of Lords.
In verses 17-21, the Apostle Paul closes out this doctrinal letter with a warning to the rich of this world. Here he says to tell all who are rich, not to be proud, and not to trust in their wealth, which will soon enough, be gone. They are to instead, put their trust in the LIVING GOD WHO is richly willing to give, even the poorest among men, all that he daily needs.
Paul goes on to say that, the rich should use their money to do good works, and to always show a willingness to give generously to those in need. That way, they will be storing up treasures in Heaven that will be used as a good foundation for their future. This will enable them to take a firm hold on the “real life”, that can only be found, in the Kingdom of GOD.
And finally, Paul urges Timothy to guard what GOD has entrusted to him, and to avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose GOD with their own so-called knowledge. For some people have actually wandered away from the faith, and chose to follow such foolishness to the grave.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website


Sunday, June 9, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday June 9, 2013

(Respect and care for those in your church family)
1 Timothy 5

In 1 Timothy 5:1, in his original Greek writings, the word the apostle Paul uses for “rebuke” is “epiplesso” (ep-ee-place-so), and it means “to speak harshly to”, or “to strike at”. This is not however, the usual word, that New Testament writers use for “rebuke”. In fact, here in verse 1, of First Timothy 5, is the only time in Scripture, that this particular word is used for rebuke. The most common word used for rebuke, in the New Testament is “epitimao” (ep-ee-tee-mah-o), and it means “to censure”, or “admonish respectfully”.
Paul uses the term, “epiplesso”, to explain to Timothy how “not to” rebuke an older person. In fact, rebuke should never be such, that it drives any person to despair, or takes the heart and hope out of them, by showing harsh disrespect. While certainly we all must be rebuked, from time to time, more importantly, we must also be encouraged.
Here Paul is saying to Timothy that, on occasion when he has to correct an older person, he must do so with an attitude of love, because no person, who is hurt by our rebuke, is going to respond positively to our instruction, or guidance from that point on.  Only that rebuke which comes from love will be effective, and it should always be followed closely by some form of encouragement.
In 1 Timothy 5, verses 3-10, Paul advises Timothy on the responsibilities of the church, and the family, towards caring for the elderly widows within the church body. Here, Paul makes a distinct difference between;

·         Those widows who are “widows indeed”: which means those widows who are truly alone in the world, and have absolutely no other family members to take care of them. Those widows’ care becomes the responsibility of the church body (v.3).  Women who have been left totally alone in the world have placed their hope in GOD, and through much prayer, day and night, have asked GOD for HIS help (v.5).
·         Those widows who have surviving family members: For those widows who have living family members, such as children, or grand children, it becomes the duty of those surviving family members to show godliness at home, and repay their parents, by taking care of them. This kind of act is something that is very pleasing to GOD, because it shows our desire to be respectful and caring toward one another, both, as a biological family, and also, as a member in the family of CHRIST’s Church (v.4) . If a Christian woman has relatives who are widows, she must take care of them and not put the responsibility on the church. That way the church will be more able to take care of those widows who are truly alone (v.16). Those families who fail to do this, especially those who share the same home with these widows, are considered to be worst than unbelievers (infidels) (v.8).

In verse 6 Paul says that women who live for worldly pleasure (seeking pleasure that is outside of the will of GOD) should not be financially taken care of by the church, at any age. In fact, those widows are deemed to be spiritually dead” says Paul, and their lifestyles not only requires “no financial help from the church”, but they are also not qualified to contribute to others in the church body.
A responsible church body cannot allow itself to support people who choose to continue to live in sin. Such foolishness would leave the church vulnerable to criticism by the opponents of Christianity. But more importantly, GOD would not be pleased.
In 1 Timothy 5, verses 9-16, Paul shares with Timothy, some of the criteria, by which a widow is put on the “financial support list” at the church;

·         First of all, Paul tells us that the widow must be at least sixty years old, and was faithful to her husband.
·         She must be respected for the good she herself has done in her household, and in the church.
·         She has brought up her children well.
·         She is kind to strangers.
·         She has served other Christians humbly.
·         She has helped those who are in trouble.
·         She is always prepared to do what is good and right.

Paul, however, tells us in verses 11-15 that younger widows should not be put on this list, but rather should remarry, mostly because their physical desires are not yet extinguished enough, and that could affect their devotion to CHRIST in their work in the church.  They can also become overpowered by their own idleness, become lazy, and began to spend their time gossiping from house to house, getting into other people’s business, and saying things that they shouldn’t. Then satan will be able to point these widows out to the public, as an example of the kind of women who represent the Christian Church. We must live a life that exhibits respect for our family and church, at all times.
In 1 Timothy 5, verses 17-22, Paul turns his attentions to the subject of being respectful, to the elders in the church. Here he gives young Timothy a few sound rules for practical administration. In his original Greek writing, the word Paul uses for “rule”, in verse 17, is “proistemi” (pro-is-tay-mee), and it means, “to stand before in rank”, or “to preside over”.  It is a word that describes one who supervises over the life flow of the congregation. In other words, elders are responsible for directing the affairs of the church. In fact, they have a dual responsibility, of both, administration and instruction, and they should be paid well for their services, IF, they are doing a good job. Paul also says that we should not entertain complaints against an elder, unless, there are two or more witnesses who accuse them. However everyone who sins, including elders, must be rebuked and held accountable before the church, so that they, and others, will have a proper respect, or reverence for GOD (Vs. 19-20).
And remember, also, out of respect for the church, we must not be hasty in choosing our leaders. Whereas some people are so flawed, that there is no way we would ever consider them for leadership in the church, there are those others whose flaws will only be revealed with time (Vs. 22 & 24). However, for those whom we do install into leadership positions, their reputation must not suffer the damage of “false accusations”. Such things can hinder the effectiveness of leadership in the church, even if they prove “not” to be true. For, we can no more undo the damage done to the respect and reputation of the church and to others lives, because of false witness, than we can “un-ring a bell” once it has tolled.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Sunday, June 2, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday June 2, 2013

(The qualities GOD expects from Christians)
(1 Timothy 3 & 4)

The Apostle Paul’s two letters to Timothy, along with the letters to Titus and Philemon, are unique in the New Testament by virtue of the fact that they were written to individuals, rather than to churches. The letters to Timothy and Titus are categorized in biblical literature as “Pastoral Letters”, because they actually represent written instructions to these young pastors, as to how they should carry out their itinerant ministries, as they worked to establish, organize, and develop the early churches.  The letter to Philemon is doubly unique, because it is the only known “private letter” of the Apostle Paul’s that we now possess.     
It is clear, from several references in these letters, as well as from the testimony of history, that, these pastoral letters date from some time near the end of the “Apostolic Age”. In fact, only the letters of the Apostle John seem to be of a later date in origin. These pastoral letters reflect the growing hostility that many had, in the Roman Empire, towards the Christian church. They give us a much clearer understanding of the dangers from such hostilities, which the early Church workers, and promoters of Christianity, had to face, during the infancy stages of the Church, on a daily basis.
In First Timothy 3, verses 1-7, we see Paul first, giving instructions regarding the lofty qualifications of the church leadership position known as “Elder”, or “Bishop”, and then later, in verses 8-13, the office of “Deacon” is addressed. In the original Greek, the word used for “Elder” is “Presbuteros” (Pres-boo-ter-os), and it refers to an “older man”, or “a wise, or experienced person”. On the other hand, the Greek word used in this passage for “Bishop” is “Episkopos” (Ep-is-kop-os), and it describes a man who is “a superintendent or officer in charge of a church”, or, is an “overseer”. In the biblical sense, they are one and the same person. The one term, Presbuteros, describes the person, and the other term, Episkopos, describes their function, or role, in the church.
This passage is very informative, as it gives us information regarding the biblical standards by which these particular appointments are assessed. We will also need to incorporate a couple of verses from chapter 5 in order to provide a complete picture, or develop a more complete understanding of GOD’s guideline for the churches in these matters:
·         First, these men are “set apart” for their office. In other words, they must be men of “good reputation”, both in and outside of the church.
·         Secondly, these men had to undergo a period of testing. They had to be proven workers in the church (1 Timothy 3:10), meaning that they must have established a history in the church, of being able to handle responsibilities well.
·         Thirdly, the church that chose these men for duty must provide the means for them to live (1 Timothy 5:18).
·         The fourth thing we see is that, these men would be liable to censure (1 Timothy 5:19-22). In other words, they have to answer for their stewardship. They must be answerable first, to GOD, and then to the people over which they are given the task of overseeing.
·         The fifth thing we see is that, they have the duty of presiding over the Christian assembly, and, the duty of teaching the congregation (1 Timothy 5:17). And so we see, these men had the dual responsibility of, both, “administration”, and “instruction”. 
·         Last, but certainly, not least, the man to be chosen, must not be a “recent convert”, or “baby Christian”. The reason being is that, new Christians are, in particular, under heavy assault from satan, who is trying mightily to discourage them while they are in their most vulnerable period of the faith. It is a time when they can be, most easily, overcome with “pride”, and a sense of their own self-importance.
Every time a Christian allows himself to be overcome by the temptations of satan, he can be pointed to, or spotlighted, by oppositions of the Christian faith, and can be used as an example, or excuse, as to why people shouldn’t get involved in the Christian faith. It is especially harmful to the Christian cause, when such misfortunes occur in the upper echelons of the Christian Church.

It was the duty of men like Timothy and Titus, to ordain elders in every church (Titus 1:5), and the duty of the congregation to first choose these men for duty (Acts 6:3-6), using the standards GOD had set before them, and those standards and criteria “still” must apply to us and our modern-day churches, lest we ourselves be in danger of falling away from GOD.
The Apostle Paul tells us in verses 8-13 that, church Deacons, in the Greek, Diakonos (dee-ak-on-os), are also chosen by similar, or like, standards. Modern-day Christian Churches fail in moral structure, because we have subtly, over the years, moved away from GOD’s standards of governing HIS OWN body. We seem to be more concerned about conforming our churches to the world, than we are about bringing in “the lost”, and transforming them, from the world.
We have, both wittingly and unwittingly, over time, considerably reduced our efforts toward meeting GOD’s standards, and then tragically, we have replaced them with our own “human ingenuity”. Let us “consider” our deteriorating, unstructured existence, and then “consider” GOD’s wonderful standards that are so vividly described by Paul in these passages, and then, I challenge you, to respond to GOD, in the “right way”.
After Paul had given instructions to young Timothy regarding worship, in chapter 2, and concerning leadership, in chapter 3, he then moved on to the subjects of false teachings, and, of being a good servant of CHRIST. One of the things that the Christian Church had inherited from the Jews was the conceptual belief that things would get a lot worse, before they got better. They viewed time in two parts, or, two ages;

·         First, there was the “present age”, which was considered altogether bad, or evil, and is permeated with the influence of satan.

·         Then, there was the “age to come”, which is to be perfect, because it will be the age of CHRIST’ rule.

In between the two ages would come, the much anticipated, “Day of the LORD”, where the entire earth will be rocked from its foundation, and the ensuing great final battle with evil, “Armageddon”, would take place. This is to be followed by a final judgment from FATHER GOD (White Throne Judgment), and then finally, a new day will dawn (New Heaven and New Earth). Being Jews (except Luke), the New Testament writers all cling to that belief, because they, themselves, were raised in the spirit of that doctrine.

In 1 Timothy 4, verses 1-5, it is in this very context in which Paul is speaking to Timothy. It is a time, Scripture tells us, when false prophets and false teachers will arise and lead many people astray. In the church at Ephesus, where Timothy presided, many false teachers had already come. And even though these teachings came from demons, they came through men, men whose consciences had been branded by satan, and they only pretended to be religious (verses 1-2).

In verse 3, Paul’s statement about those, who forbade marriage, and condemned certain foods, smacks of the religious group known as “Gnostics”, who had also infiltrated the church in those days. The very essence of Gnosticism was that they believed that “spirit” is altogether good, and “matter” and “flesh” were altogether bad, or evil.

These heretics believed that men should, as much as possible, abstain from food, because food is material, and therefore, evil. They also believed that men should abstain from marriage, because marriage allowed for people to play out the sexual instincts of their bodies, which is also evil, and, that sexual urges should be entirely suppressed.

Heresy in the Christian Church is as old as the Church itself. In every generation, men have arose, who tried to be stricter than GOD. However, by doing these things, and anything else, other than the way GOD has shown us, is enormously insulting to HIM. GOD is the CREATOR of all things, and Scripture repeatedly tells us that all things, that GOD created, are good (verses 4-5).

In 1 Timothy 4, verses 6-15, Paul moves on to the subject of being a good servant for CHRIST. He starts by telling Timothy that it is his duty, as a servant of CHRIST to explain about these various heresies and false doctrine to the people of the church. However, he warns Timothy not to get involved or waste time in arguing over these GOD-less ideals and foolishness. Paul urged that, instead, he should spend his time and energy on training himself for spiritual fitness (verses 6-7).
In those days, especially in Greece, the young men were particularly interested in physical fitness, even to the point of making it a religion, by worshiping their own bodies. Also, the gyms, where they worked out, had become somewhat of a hotbed for homosexual activity. In verses 8-13, Paul is urging young Timothy to separate himself from this kind of foolishness, by focusing more on spiritual exercise than on the physical. And although physical exercise is essential to this life, spiritual exercise is more important, because, spiritual exercise will benefit you, both in this life, and, in the life to come.
Paul goes on to remind and encourage Timothy how hard Christians have to work, and how much we must suffer, in order that people will believe the truth. Our only hope is in the LIVING GOD, WHO is the SAVIOR of all people in general, and those who believe, in particular. Paul also urges Timothy not to cause people to think less of him because he is young, and, he was to do this by persisting in, and insisting in, everyone learning and obeying the word of GOD, and, more importantly, he is also to lead by example.
Paul ends chapter four, by urging Timothy not to neglect his spiritual gift, and to work hard at it so that everyone will be able to see his progress. He advises him to keep his own heart with all diligence, and be careful in his teaching by staying true to what is right. That way, GOD will save him, and, anyone who hears him. By the way, this bit of advice is still good for pastors in this day and age, and I dare say, it will also be good for those, in the years to come.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website