Delivered By
C.C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
June 11, 2017
Central Passage
1 Timothy 2:1-8
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

 

“…I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1Timothy 2:1-8).

 

Based on those verses of Scripture…I’m going to pose some serious questions that each of us need to answer.

 

The first is…are you praying for someone’s salvation and seeing no results? And if that’s the case…is it OK to stop praying for them?

 

Another question is…do you have a burden for the lost or not? And if you don’t have that burden…how do you get it. And once you have a burden for the lost…how do you get that burden to grow and deepen?

 

Finally, if you believe God is going to save the elect no matter what…as some do…is there any purpose in praying?

 

Those are challenging questions…questions we need to answer. And, hopefully, we will all answer them before we leave here today.

 

I recall reading a story about a man in Asia…let’s call him Eddie. He had been witnessing to a man we’ll call Johnny. Johnny was under deep conviction…but was resisting accepting Christ as his Savior.

 

They were on board one of those old Chinese boats they call a junk and Johnny fell overboard. Eddie jumped into the water in the hopes of finding him…but no one else made any effort to save him.

 

There was a fishing boat close by…so Eddie tried to solicit the help of the crew. However, they wouldn’t stop their fishing to look for the drowning man until Eddie agreed to pay them…and they bartered for every penny he had.

 

After agreeing to pay them a sizable sum…they agreed to help. In less than a minute of dragging with their net…they found Johnny. But it was too late. He was dead.

 

The fishermen had felt no sense of urgency about the drowning man. They just kept on fishing until they were satisfied with the payment they would receive for trying to save him. And while their response to saving the life of a human being seems calloused…I need to take the log out of my own eye before condemning them.

 

I need to ask myself if I’m really all that concerned about the people all around me who are drowning in sin without Jesus Christ. Or, am I more concerned about my own comfort and financial gain than about all these people who are hell bound. And if I’m honest with myself…this self-evaluation is not a pleasant.

 

You see…action speaks louder than words. And I can’t say that my actions about the lost measure up to my words about the need to save them. Talking the talk is one thing…and walking the walk is another.

 

I doubt that any of us like dealing personally with the questions I’ve posed…but we really have no choice. Satan does a good job of distracting us from saving drowning people…and some of those distractions are meaningless church work.

 

A lot of people drown in their sins while we promote the goofy idea that everything done in a church building…that everything done by the church corporately...and that everything we do individually as part of a church body…is important. But nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Most churches engage in more ideas and projects that have nothing to do with salvation than in those that do. Scripture, however, emphasizes that the church’s one and only purpose is to share Christ with as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.

 

Unfortunately, we tend to look at the billions of people who are drowning in their sins without Christ and say, “Hey, I’m just one person. What can I do about it?

 

Well, for starters you can commit yourself to prayer. You can meet with others to pray for those who are lost and perishing without Jesus.

 

You may question prayer as a means of getting involved in soul winning…but prayer will make a tremendous difference in your life. And it makes a tremendous difference in the lives of the persons you pray for…and in the life of our church.

 

If you study scripture…it should come as no surprise to you that God has chosen to work in response to the prayers of His people.

 

When Paul told Timothy how to conduct himself in the local church…he made prayer a priority. And, he wasn’t talking about the need for prayer in general. He was talking about the need for prayer as it relates to the salvation of the lost. He specifically said that prayers that all people may be reached with the gospel should be pervasive in the life of a church.

 

We should have such a burden for those who are drowning in sin without Christ…that we’re driven to entreat God that all people might be reached with the good news of salvation before it’s too late.

 

We should constantly be questioning whether that kind of prayer pervades our church. And each of us needs to constantly question whether that kind of prayer pervades our life.

 

It’s a lot easier for us to be like those fishermen who were asked to save Johnny…to be so busy with our own interests that we aren’t interested in those who are drowning nearby…unless, of course, it’s worth something to us.

 

We must pray that all people are reached with the Gospel net that is in line with God’s plan for their salvation. That’s quite clear in Paul’s admonition to Timothy, which reads: “…I urge that all entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men…Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, to lift up holy hands without wrath and dissension.”

 

Paul didn’t tell Timothy that prayer is simply a nicety to be practiced by the church. He told him it’s a necessity…that God’s sovereign plan includes the prayers of His people. And if we’re going to be involved with God’s plan for the world…then we’ll pray in line with His plan.

 

There are four facets of God’s plan in these verses written to Timothy.

 

First and foremost, God’s plan involves all kinds of prayer for all kinds of people. In fact, in verse 1 Paul uses four different words for prayer…all with different nuances.

 

The word “entreaties” indicates prayer stemming from a sense of need. When we realize our insufficiency and impotence…and recognize God’s sufficiency and omnipotence…we should definitely be moved to pray.

 

The general term “prayers” refers to requests for needs that are always present…not to specific or special needs. This would include prayer for more wisdom, godliness, repentance, revival and so on.

 

The word “petitions” is a reference to the intercessory work of the Holy Spirit and Christ on our behalf. It means we can go freely before God at any time…or in any place…to talk to Him on behalf of others.

 

Thanksgivings” is a word that means we must not only express our petitions…but also our gratitude to God for His gracious answers.

 

Paul emphasizes that when it comes to salvation there is no person whom God’s grace cannot reach…nor is there anyone so high and mighty that he or she doesn’t need God’s grace. All people are sinners who need to know God as Savior. So, while you may not be able to speak to some people about God…you can always speak to God about that person.

 

Second, God’s plan involves the spread of the Gospel so that all may be saved. When Paul wrote that we should pray for those in authority to govern in such a way that we might enjoy tranquil and quiet lives…the stated purpose wasn’t so that we could live comfortable and happy lives. It was, instead, so that we could be free to grow in godliness and dignity…with a view toward maximum spread of the Gospel.

 

The words godliness and dignity in this context point toward an outward manifestation of Christian virtues. Paul was concerned with the testimony of God’s people. And we should be even more concerned with our own personal testimony.

 

Under persecution, some professing Christians cave in…whereas in times of peace there is more opportunity for their good deeds to be seen. So, the purpose and focus of everything Paul wrote was to encourage Christians to win the lost.

 

Third, God’s plan requires holiness and harmony among His people. For a church this is harder to do than fielding a team to win the Super Bowl. We are to live in godliness…which means being reverent or devout. We are to live in dignity…which has the nuance of commanding respect. If we have these qualities…it means we take God seriously.

 

As Christians and as a church we are to be withoutwrath and dissension.” We’re to work out anger and relational problems in private so that we can pray in public without hypocrisy. We can’t pray and work together for God’s plan in the world unless we’re walking in holiness and harmony as God’s people.

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