Our speaker Gilbert Lennox focused our thoughts on two passages from the New Testament letter of Paul to Timothy: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 and 1 Timothy 6:11-16. He asked 2 questions: What kind of King is Jesus? How can we live loyally to Him in our public lives?
Gilbert revealed that 1 Timothy was the first book he studied deeply as a student, and commended deep Bible study to young people today.
Paul had left his young colleague, Timothy, in the fine city of Ephesus to teach and protect the infant church against false philosophies, which were rampant there. We live in an increasingly post-Christian age. How would Paul encourage us? Gilbert believes he would do so in the same way as he encouraged Timothy.
He points us to our King. (It is unusual for Paul to use this term in describing God, but he does so twice in this letter: in 1:17 and 6:15.) The King is invisible, yet we see Him in Jesus. And why did Jesus come into this world? For two reasons: to save sinners, and to make the good confession (more on this later).
Paul opens his heart and remembers (with sorrow) how he was once a rebel against Jesus – possibly the chief rebel, for he tried to get Christians to blaspheme against Him and persecuted them even to foreign cities. What changed him?
He had a dramatic encounter with the risen Lord (see Acts chapter 9), leading him to discover a huge irony. He had thought he was reverencing God, but found he didn’t even know Him! The answer to his quavering question, “Who are You, Lord?” shocks him even more. It is Jesus!
How would God treat him? He showed him grace, mercy, forgiveness and even trust. He was entrusted to His service. What kind of King is this?
God did not preach the Law at Paul, for the Law produces awareness of sin; guilt; fear; self-righteousness; pride and endeavours to earn salvation. It cannot produce a warm, grateful heart, true, or genuine faith. But God’s immense kindness wins the chief rebel’s heart. Remembering this, thinking about what has motivated him all these years, Paul pauses to worship.
On the Damascus road, Paul discovers what God is like for the first time.
Gilbert told us he has reached the age of 70, and declared passionately that experience has convinced him there is no other message than the message of the Cross that can answer the human condition; no other voice that can give us a sense of worth and meaning, of being accepted and loved and of purpose that goes beyond the confines of this world into eternity.
Yet Jesus came also for a second reason: to make the good confession. In John 18 we read of his cross-examination from Pilate, who asks,
The Truth is a Person.
Jesus made the good confession, and here Paul calls Timothy to do the same. God is calling us in the 21st century to do likewise. Today so much is taught, to even the youngest children in school, that is anti-Christian. God is looking for those who will stand as Jesus did to declare: the LORD is King!