The theme of Paul’s first letter to Timothy is a resolute charge to hold fast to the truth of God in the midst of the swirling storms of falsehood. Paul’s commission is to stay firm in promoting and proclaiming the doctrine with which he entrusted the young pastor. Timothy was undoubtedly enduring severe ministerial trials as the burgeoning philosophies and theosophies of gnosticism were threatening the church. Such is why Paul aims to affirm the indefatigable truth of God’s gospel by contrasting what was being taught, the false versus the true.
In the Pastoral Epistles, the apostle Paul is passing the torch as the primary doctrinal voice for the church to a new generation of pastors and preachers in both Timothy and Titus. Paul anticipates the frailty of his life and senses the winds of change that are coming for the nascent churches with which he spent his life laboring for the sake of the gospel. A new phase of pastoral ministry is looming: a defense of the faith. That which was fresh and new and took the churches by storm in the first wave of apostolic preaching has given way to discontent and falsehood. Such is why Paul is adamant in his resolve to Timothy and Titus to keep the faith and hold fast to sound doctrine.
How would you answer the question, “What is the Bible about?” What is its point? Its message? Its overarching story? There are over 30,000 verses and 66 books in the canonical Scriptures, but what are they all saying? Churchgoers ought to know what their Bible says. It only makes sense if the system of belief that defines your entire life is derived from a book that you know what that book says. Such is modern Christianity’s biggest problem: the utter lack of biblical understanding.
Sermons from the Book of Revelation tend to make me nervous. I squirm in my pew when I hear the words, “Turn in your Bible to the Book of Revelation.” This is usually because the speaker is about to “impress” with their eschatological knowledge and expertise. However, such trepidation at Revelation is unfounded, and such eschatological dot-connecting superfluous when you consider the first five words of the entire book.
In 1741, one of the most famous sermons in American history was published, that being Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For better or for worse, though, this sermon remains one of the most famous and widely recognized sermons of all time. Most of the time, though, it is misremembered and misunderstood. The only colloquial knowledge many have is the title and the fact that God is angry with us. It begs the question, then, is that really who God is?
The colloquial understanding of God is most often a caricature of who he really is. The “man upstairs” is seen as a vindictive old man with a long white beard who’s waiting with bated breath for you to mess up so he can punish you. There’s a vernacular sense that God is angry with us. But, as Scripture makes very clear, nothing could be further from the truth.