Sunday, September 2, 2018

Timothy, Work Hard Even at the Point of Suffering - It Is Worth it (1 Timothy 4:10-11)

"This is why we work hard and continue to struggle [or to suffer], for our hope is in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people and particularly of all believers. Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them"
(1 Timothy 4:10-11, NLT)

Every bit of suffering Paul the Apostle experienced and all the agony he went through for the sake of "the glorious Good News entrusted to [him] by our blessed God" (1 Timothy 1:11) was worth it because his trust was in the living God who "is the Saviour of all people and particularly of all believers" – and that God is worth trusting and will never let us down. Therefore, "work hard" on yourself and for the Lord! "Thrown ourselves into this venture so totally," said Eugene Peterson, "We're banking on the living God." If you work hard to warn others about apostasy and false teachings (read 1 Timothy 4:1-6) and work hard to "train yourself to be godly" (1 Timothy 4:7), you'll suffer but it will be worth it! Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12 that "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" but it will be worth it! Why? Because if you warn others about their wicked schemes, you'll be hate; and if you be godly in the world where sins are praised, you'll be persecuted. Take heart! Our hope is in the living God, not the imaginary one! It is worth it!

Now, let us come to one of the most controversial verse in the Scripture, "the Saviour of all people." Does Paul teach universalism, that all men will eventually be saved? I say NO because how then could He be the special or particular Saviour "of all believers"? Paul once addressed the Athenians saying that "in [God] we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28). This text tells me that even the very life and breath of unbelievers who may blaspheme God is a gift from God. Even now God is "saving" them from going to hell and giving them physical life and opportunity to be saved. In a way, God is the Saviour of all people. During Paul's time, the emperor of Rome was called "the Saviour of the world" by reason of the fact that he was the preserver of mankind by his ‘benevolent' reign. Then how much more is our God "the Saviour of all people" in the sense that everything good and gracious comes from His hand, even life itself. However, God is the Saviour "particularly of all believers" in Christ. I like how Life Application Bible Study interpret this verse: "Christ is the Saviour of all, but His salvation becomes effective only for those who trust Him." Amen and hallelujah!

The importance of what Paul has just been said is emphasized by him when he admonishes Timothy to "teach these things and insist that everyone learn them."  Albert Barnes commentary on 1 Timothy 4:11 notes: "It follows from this, that a minister of the gospel is solemnly bound to teach that there is a sense in which God is the Saviour of all people. He is just as much bound to teach this, as he is that only those will be saved who believe. It is a glorious truth - and it is a thing for which a man should unceasingly give thanks to God that he may go and proclaim that He has provided salvation for all, and is willing that all should come and live." Do it Timothys – it is worth it!

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