Being Thankful for
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me the strength for my work because he knew he could trust me. 13 I used to say terrible and insulting things about him, and I was cruel. But Christ had mercy on me because I didn't know what I was doing, and I had not yet put my faith in him. 14Christ Jesus our Lord treated me with undeserved grace and has greatly blessed my life with faith and love just like his own.
15“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This saying is true, and it can be trusted. I was the worst sinner of all! 16But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus. He did this so that others would put their faith in Christ and have eternal life. 17I pray that honor and glory will always be given to the only God, who lives forever and is the invisible and eternal King! Amen.
18Timothy, my son, the instructions I am giving you are based on what some prophets once said about you. If you follow these instructions, you will fight like a good soldier. 19You will be faithful and have a clear conscience. Some people have made a mess of their faith because they didn't listen to their consciences. 20Two of them are Hymenaeus and Alexander. I have given these men over to the power of Satan, so they will learn not to oppose God.
The message of the church should be marked by sound teaching that conforms to the glorious Gospel (v.11). There’s something wholesome and wonderful about the Gospel. It moved Paul, as it should move us, from unbelief to belief in Christ (vv.12-14), and from deserving God’s wrath to receiving His grace and mercy (vv.14, 16).
When I was a young Christian I remember my father-in-law, an international evangelist, saying that the Gospel was GRACE, i.e. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That’s a great acrostic – a reminder of the amazing truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – sinners like Paul – sinners like you and me.
This is the Gospel: Christ Jesus came to bring us grace, mercy and kindness from God the Father (vv.13-14) and to cleanse us from our sins when we were unable to help ourselves. This message isn’t optional to Christian faith. Salvation in Christ Jesus isn’t a take it or leave it matter. There is no faith without “full acceptance” (v.15 NIV) of the Gospel.
That’s why, to return to 1:1-11, if anyone teaches a message that omits the Gospel, they’re false teachers. It’s also why Paul stresses how important it is for Timothy to “fight like a good soldier” (v.18) in order to hold onto the faith informed by the Gospel (v.19). And it’s why Paul doesn’t hesitate to hand Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan for making “a mess of their faith” (v.19).
So keep the faith. Don’t depart from the Gospel message. And be on your guard. For much of the false teaching we find around the church today denies the need for faith in Christ Jesus, and in so doing stops short of bringing honour and glory to “the invisible and eternal King” (v.17).
Lord, we pray that we might remain loyal to Christ Jesus despite the false teachers we may come across from time to time. And we ask you to help us hold onto “faith and a good conscience” so that we do not wreck our faith. Amen.