He is a well-known and respected teacher who dared to give a positive review of a book that took a different position on a controversial topic than the traditional one.
He was mocked, maligned…called a heretic…by other key leaders.
You might be thinking… “that doesn’t surprise me.”
Christians are so unkind, so unforgiving…only the church does this kind of thing…no grace, so petty, no room for disagreement.
Well, to be honest I set you up…this wasn’t some Christian leader.
This well-known teacher is Thomas Nagel, a Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University.
He is a well-known atheist and his positive review was of a book, by a Christian, arguing for “intelligent design” of the universe.
Nagel went very quickly, from being a superstar in atheist/philosophical circles…to being an outcaste.
The Weekly Standard pictured him on the cover as if he is about to be burned at the stake, the headline read, “The Heretic”…
The Standard was in essence, mocking the Scientific/philosophical community…for being so closed minded.
Nagel, an atheist himself, but evidently an honest one…though he doesn’t believe in God he dared take a stance that was not the “traditional materialist/reductionist” view of life…he dared to say that a Christian had a sound argument.
My point is this…the world at large, and many Christians are quick to point out how often Christians disagree.
The church takes a beating with nonsensical sayings like. “The church is the only organization in the world that shoots it wounded.”
That’s not true on two counts…
-First, that is not the norm.
-Second, other organizations actually do that, and regularly.
People often separate from, and attack those who dare go against what they believe to be the correct view of things…as evidenced by Dr. Nagel’s fall from grace…if the atheist community even believes in grace.
Truth be told, in my experience…Christians tend to disagree in ways that are unique in the world at large…unique in a positive way.
Not the disagreements that make the news…but the majority of disagreements that don’t…where everyday people take stands on important beliefs…AND give grace to those who disagree with them.
I have seen this in person several times in just the past couple of weeks.
For Nagel to be attacked because he dared disagree with the atheist party line…reveals deep insecurity in those people, not to mention a lack of charity and kindness in them.
Today, we begin 1 Timothy 2…it is a chapter that is at the center of the controversy regarding the role women in ministry.
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are often called “Pastoral Epistles” or “letters.”
They are written by Paul to two pastors of local churches, Timothy and Titus and they give instructions for how they are to lead, worship, and develop leaders at the local level.
Paul was encouraging Timothy to stay in Ephesus and to continue to teach and lead there…even though he was facing challenge and opposition.
Surely, he wanted to cut and run…But Paul said…hang in there.
In chapter 1 we found that this opposition was largely from some men teaching false doctrines and majoring on fantastic speculations.
Paul encourages Timothy to be strong, keep “fighting the good fight.”
That doesn’t mean physically pummel his opponents…it means, keep teaching and living the truth…that is the good fight.
He will later tell him to not let anyone discount him because of his youth…but rather to set an example with the whole of his life.
We will divide chapter 2 into parts…today…verses 1-10 and next week verses 11-15.
I began with the illustration of Dr. Nagel and how dispute and controversy are common…
First to illustrate that Christians are not unique in sometimes demonizing those who disagree with them…many people do this
Second to say this…Almost every word in 1 Tim. 8-15 is in dispute among Christians.
There is a wide spectrum of beliefs on the topics it covers…we can give people grace on differences….but we must come to some practical conclusions ourselves.
The differences don’t have to be “hotly disputed” but in the end, applications/decisions must be made as to how to faithfully apply God’s word.
This topic of women’s roles is important…because women are important.
But what you believe about women’s roles is not in the category of “essential for salvation.”
Just like its important but not essential for salvation what you believe about eschatology…or the end of time.
The difference between these two important but not essential for salvation topics is that don’t have to decide how to “apply” different views of the end times per se.
You have to decide how you will think about the end of all things…but Christ will return when he returns.
We do have to decide how we will practically go about organizing and operating as a local church.
How we will function as a worshipping community in regards to church leadership and roles and responsibilities…decisions have to be made along those lines.
People will sometimes disagree on those decisions…that’s normal, it’s ok.
But we must take stands on important issues…and we must give grace to those who disagree.
We cannot be insecure AND fail to have the courage of conviction.
Yet we cannot be unkind…and attack those who take a different stance.
This is a difficult balance to keep…but we must keep it non the less.
What God wants from us; I think…is joyful, generous, firm commitments to our convictions.
Not…wishy washy, testing the winds of current culture to see where we will land.
We cannot have a failure of nerve…we must decide on certain things and then live decided lives.
Not…angry, combative lives…we cannot always be looking to punch in any direction where we believe someone might dare to question our belief.
Truth must not be compromised in the name of love, that is not love.
Love must not be crushed in the name of truth, that is not truth.
We will get into the application of the roles of women in gathered worship next Sunday…but
Today we look at the foundation for what will be discussed next week…the heart of worship.
2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. 8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
Remember, this is a letter to pastor of local church…
He began by telling Pastor Tim to hang in there and teach, live, and lead in the truth.
Don’t be run over by or run out of town by guys like Hymenaeus and Alexander…these guys are up to no good…you on the other hand, are up to good.
So, this is a practical, not a theoretical letter…
Paul always lays a foundation for practice…but in the end, it is about the practical.
Beliefs: what is true and real (form the foundation)
Values: what is our heart to learning to love(form the motivation)
Behaviors: what are we do to/how are we to live.(are the application)
1 Tim. 2 in context is about public, or gathered worship.
It was most often in homes at time, but not always…it could be anywhere Christians gathered for worship.
“House church” was better because it was often necessary.
Paul begins with the priority of prayer.
I urge (strongly encourage)
Then (based on what I have been saying)
First of all (this is a priority)
That requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority,
There are four different ways of praying here, but we shouldn’t make this into a formula.
The point is…all kinds of prayers should be prayed in gathered community.
Requests means “asking for things”
Prayers is a general term for “praying”
Intercession is “asking on behalf of others”
Thanksgiving is self-explanatory
So, all kinds of prayers for all kinds of people…for everyone and for those in authority.
…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
Leaders determine how life goes for people under their leadership.
God uses trouble and trial to wake people up and focus them on what is important.
But he doesn’t delight in Ukrainian lives being uprooted and destroyed.
He wants, conditions that are favorable to worship and mission.
So…pray for all people, and especially for those making political decisions.
Peaceful and quiet lives doesn’t mean: We are free to live as if this life is all that matters.
-It’s not: Pray for Putin…so this war won’t mess up your vacation or retirement
Of course, vacation and retirement are good in themselves…
God gave us recreation to re-create us for worship, mission, God honoring lives…vacations are good if you can get one.
And to end a working career to move into another realm of service to others is a good thing.
But God did not design us to “play for a living.”
Look at the specifics of this “peaceful and quiet lives”
- In all godliness and holiness
- God wants all to be saved and live in the truth
Peaceful and quiet life has as its end…godliness and holiness in us.
Very often, unfortunately, it takes turmoil and trouble…to get us back on track to godliness and holiness…but that is not what God prefers.
Godliness meaning…a “God-centric” life at the heart and habit level
Holiness meaning…a “life set apart” for his purposes at the actional level
God at the core of our affections & God at the center of our actions.
Ideally, we wouldn’t need turmoil and trouble…ideally, we could live peaceful and quiet lives…lives set apart for God’s missional purposes…without having to be “shaken by trials”
We are to pray for this ideal.
We are to pray for Biden, and Putin, and for our friends and neighbors.
This is not about having a long, cumbersome list that you must keep…to pray for every world leader.
They didn’t have the internet…they only know a couple of leaders…the ones that touched their immediate lives.
This is about, in the context, worship that is “God-centric” leading to lives that are “God-centric.”
So, as you pray for contemporary, cultural realities…leaders and those in authority
As you pray for peaceful, quiet lives…so that we can maximize worship and mission.
It’s all in line with shaping us into people who know who the one true King is and what he has made our lives for.
This is what worship is and does.
We know that in this life…peace will always be partial and temporary…but we pray for it.
It will be full and permanent when Christ returns….we pray for that as well.
So, now as we gather for worship…here on Sunday or in small groups…
We don’t lose sight of who the true King Eternal, immortal, invisible is…
…Even as we pray for these temporal, short-lived, very visible, human authorities, kings, presidents, and despots.
So, we pray in gathered worship…for what is pleasing to God.
Our prayer, our worship, our preaching…in gathered worship is God-centric…not cultural centric.
WE pursue the eternal God…we don’t chase culture in worship.
We are shaped by what we chase after.
If we chase culture…we are shaped by it…and unable to impact it.
If we pursue God…we are shaped by him…and empowered to shape the world around us.
So our worship is not separated from the times we live in…we pray to the eternal king…regarding our friends, family, and the current kings whom God is pleased to allow…for a time…to have some limited authority over human affairs.
*Why do we pray if or since God is sovereign?
-God is sovereign and he has determined that our prayers have impact on what happens in the world…he includes them in his sovereign control of the world.
-Don’t spin your wheels trying to figure out how it works…spend your energy doing the work of prayer.
We pray because we know that this one God…
4 wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
This doesn’t mean that all people will in fact come to a saving faith in Christ…it does show God’s heart for all people.
You need only read Paul’s other letters, especially Romans to know he is not implying all will in fact be saved.
God wants us to pray all kinds of prayers for all kinds of people…so that his kingdom would come his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven…
That people would live lives of godliness and holiness…people would come to Christ and live in the truth.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
Think of how this statement plays out in the world right now.
Christ is the only way.
“Are you saying all other ways are wrong?”
Well, God is saying that.
This aligns with what Jesus said about himself.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
At the time determined by God…Jesus entered space and time to become, through his death and resurrection…the sole mediator between God and humanity.
The only door through which humans can walk into peace and relationship with God.
It doesn’t matter whether people like this…or think this is true…it only matters that it is true.
7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
A herald was a much a part of everyday life in the ancient world as a website or news outlet today.
They stood in public places and gave updates from local and regional authorities… “breaking news!”
Paul said that he was appointed by God to be a herald…to communicate the message that he had been entrusted with.
The origin of this message: God
The content of this message: Christ crucified and risen.
So why does he say, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying”?
He knows that Timothy is in circumstances that are hostile to the truth.
People all around him stand at crossroads…those crossroads appear to be very close positionally but if you take the wrong path…it diverges into dramatically distance points down the road.
Some seemingly innocuous positions that are taken, “What does it matter, really, if you believe this or that…?”
*I had a conversation with a person this past year who stood many years ago at a crossroad…there was a path going this way and one going that way…they were close together at that junction point in his life.
-He stepped on a path, that was more convenient, or more to his liking, or more favorable culturally…and now, all these years later…it had taken him into a wilderness.
The good news is, you can, by faith…get back on the path, or get on it for the first time…but you cannot undo all that has been done by years of walking the wrong path.
Paul knew Timothy was in the land of forks in the road…many people and ideas pressing on him…he knew he was there leading by himself…Paul was not there to prop him up.
It was time for Timothy to have steel in his own faith spine…things were going to get worse there.
If you jump to 2 Tim. 1:15…it appears that in a fairly short time, things would get worse in Ephesus.
“Everyone” Paul wrote, “In that province has deserted me.”
Everyone likely meant a large majority…had taken the bad path.
He is jolting Timothy to have courage…to be ready to stand firmly on truth…and not be swayed by opposition or persecution.
“Timothy…this is the truth…hold firmly to it!”
I had a professor in Seminary, Dr. Bush…brilliant philosopher and theologian.
*We were assigned a book by a then well-known atheist.
*The first week students were complaining about having to read this stuff…they were shaken by it…some were emotional about
Dr. Bush said, many of you will be pastors in churches in communities without support, some will missionaries…you need to think this through now in a space where you can get help.
This is out there…now, let’s think it through together.
I loved the class…I would read the book and scratch my head “Boy, I don’t know how to answer that.”
Then, Dr. Bush would help us think it through…he was teaching us how to think, how to not freak out…how to have some steel in our faith spines.
This is what Paul wants for Timothy.
Look at the next three verses…as I read them it is likely your mind will go to the details and it will seem petty.
But if we can capture the heart of what he is saying…we will see that this is profound.
8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
This is not a new subject…this is a part of his focus on worship.
Everywhere…indicates that this is universal…this is what he wants for all the churches.
He uses a word that denotes adult males.
This doesn’t mean that women should not pray in worship; he knows they will, should, and do.
In 1 Cor. 11 he addressed how women should pray in worship.
He is going to address men and then women in illustrations and applications that point to the heart of worship.
First, men are to lift holy hands in prayer…with no anger or disputing.
Jesus spoke at length about the importance of not merely “saying prayers” but of the heart we are to have as we approach God in prayer…God looks at the heart.
“Holy hands” is an OT image of godly men imploring God with outstretched arms.
Without anger or disputing acknowledges that this kind of dissension between people disrupts true worship.
Jesus said in Matt. 5:23 “If you are offering your gift at the alter (in worship) and remember you are not right with your brother or sister…go get right with them…then come continue in worship.”
Robert Yarbrough wrote that “Angry men passionate about being right are a primary threat to acceptable worship.”
So, verse 8 singles out anger and disputing as unhealthy male tendencies that undermine worship…which originates in the heart.
Verse 9,10 Balances this with a female tendency of unhealthy concern with bodily appearance.
This doesn’t mean women don’t deal with anger or disputing or that men don’t deal with an unhealthy concern for bodily appearance.
If we get sidetracked by his use of general tendencies…we will miss the whole point.
Of course, he is not saying “It’s fine if women pray with unholy hands in prayer, just not men.”
“It’s, okay for men to dress in way that draw attention from worship to themselves rather than God just not women”
He is not advocating for women to dress in burkas, or to not care for their appearance.
In both his direction to men and to women (he uses the word “likewise”)…he is making both men and women responsible for how they approach God and each other worship.
This is all a single flowing topic on worship…it began in the first verse with prayer…in continues here with…
Men’s unholy anger and women’s wardrobe excesses(and the hearts behind it) can sabotage worship.
The word he uses here “modesty” for women’s dress is used in chapter 3 for men’s behavior.
It means “appropriate, decent”
Hot tempered men in worship is a contradiction in terms.
Women dressing to evoke others to focus on them in worship…likewise is a contradiction.
“Anger and disputing” as just examples of a heart unable to worship…of course there are other attitudes that are contrary to worship….more than these two.
The same with his “list” of what women should or should not wear…it’s not about the list.
The focus is not on “what not to wear” but on what was in the heart.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Prov 31:30).
Yarbrough writes…“Isaiah mocked “haughty” women of Zion “with ornaments jingling on their ankles” (Isa 3:16). His description of their finery makes Paul’s references look dull and flat by comparison (3:18–23): “the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.”
Like Paul, Isaiah’s concern is not to demonize women’s fashion but to depict the hazard of people playing at worship, oblivious to god…while stuck on externals and cosmetic excess.
Yarbrough, Robert W.. The Letters to Timothy and Titus (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)) (pp. 275-276). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Kindle Edition.
So, men are urged to bring holy hands to worship, women are called to bring consecrated lives to worship (to dress in “Good deeds” is how it is phrased) this is two ways of saying the same thing.
Let’s apply this in several ways:
First: Let’s take advantage of the gift and opportunity to repent where necessary.
-Where we have anger, unforgiveness, grudges…in our hearts…let’s turn from these right now.
-We have not right to these…Christ died for us while we were sinners…we cannot hold on to unforgiveness, anger.
They cannot be a part of worship of God.
-He can only make us free…if we are willing to be free…we must repent.
-Where we have come here, or we have moved through life making life about ourselves…a focus on how we appear to others…a need for attention.
-Let’s repent of these things…God is eager to set us free…we must repent.
- Governor Kelly
- President Biden
- President Putin
- President Zelensky (Zu len skee)
The people of Russian, Ukraine, so many other nations where suffering is terrible and persistent.
- You pray for people in your life
- Pray for people who are far from God
- Let’s give thanks through communion…thanks for the gospel.