What Are We to Believe?

6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:6-10)

We hear a lot about truth. We talk about truth. We say things like, “We must hold firmly to the truth of God’s Word.” Or we use the word “doctrine,” which means the same thing. Doctrine is truth. So we say, “We must hold on to sound doctrine.” Truth is important, God’s truth is very important. This is a regular theme here at this church. But why? Why is it important that we hold to and live by God’s truth?

Is it just so life will go better, be easier? Is it just to keep us out of trouble? Is it just the best alternative of many? Is it just because mom and dad and the preacher say we should? Why is it so important to hold on to and to live out God’s truth? Because really, we need to know if this is worth it or if it’s not. Whether it is important or not to press this idea of holding to God’s truth.

I mean, most people don’t, it’s not like they try and fail, it is more like they have no interest in God’s truth, no interest at all. But we all just need to settle this in our minds. Is it important or is it not to be aware of and to follow God’s truth?

Here is the thing. I don’t want any of you to embrace God’s truth, God’s Word simply so that your life will go better. Really that is not it. The reason why it is so important, why it is so important to know and embrace the Bible, is for the simple reason is that it leads us to Christ. And I do with all my heart want you to know Christ Jesus. I don’t want you to just know about Him, but to know HIm. I’m speaking to believers here this morning, I want you to really know Him. I want you to know Him more than you know any other.

I am reading a book that is really impacting me right now. The book is called “Uneclipsing the Son.” The author, Rick Holland, talks about what it is like to witness a full eclipse of the sun. What he described was an eerie experience where it wasn’t completely dark, but it didn’t seem like day either. You could still see light around the edges of the sun but couldn’t really see the sun. When this happens it just makes everything seem rather gray, not much color. You know the sun is there because some of its effects are seen, but it was dull, making everything else dull that could be seen. Rick Holland, using that example, then wonders whether we do the same thing with Jesus. Do we just see Him as a shadow, obscured in our lives, not completely but just mostly? Has it become normal for you to know Him very faintly, is He just a being to be read about and studied, or is He more than that?

Are we cultivating a vibrant relationship with Him, or are we content with what little we do know of Him and time spent with Him? Are other things in our world big, leaving Him rather small? These are important questions because He, as I understand the Bible, He is to be our all. Is your life miserable? Are your trials too great? Are you overwhelmed with your health, your hurts, your relationships, your emotions, your circumstances? If so, maybe you have allowed Christ to be eclipsed by lesser things and you need a renewed sense of who this Jesus is and what He is doing.

Why is truth so important? Because it leads us to and shows us Jesus. The truths of God’s Word help us to know and relate to Him. And so Paul says in verse 7, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness.”

Why does he say this? Why does he say that we should not have anything to do with irreverent, silly myths? Because if we are caught up in them and are focused on them then we are not caught up in and focused rightly on Jesus. That is pretty simple. It is amazing really. We can get so wound up over silly, unimportant things that we will ignore the most important: the person of Jesus Christ. We will choose the trivial over the eternal again and again. Or we elevate the trivial to most important again and again. This was apparently a problem in the first-century church. Christ had died for them, being cruelly beaten and slaughtered. He was miraculously raised from the tomb. He appeared before many and ascended into heaven. He left instructions about His return and left work for His followers to do, to make disciples, and yet after all this, the church was overrun with irreverent and silly myths, with trivial silliness.

Paul says put that away, reject it, have nothing to do with such talk! These things, he says, were irreverent, meaning they were radically different than God’s Word, even contradicting the Word of God. And this was all happening in the church. Again, the problem is this takes away from knowing Christ. It is like a planned way by the enemy to take away from the glory of Christ. That is the result of introducing really any false teaching in the church.

We need to consider whether we spend our time, whether in the church or even outside, arguing over or just giving too much attention to trivial matters that may take away from a pursuit of love toward the true Christ. Or to say it another way, does our speech, our teaching, our conversations, do they point us to Jesus as the Holy One who is our Master and our Lord? Do we get easily sidetracked, are we eclipsing the Son?

Paul’s encouragement is to, instead of chasing after silly myths, train yourself for godliness. This is what I was getting at earlier, seek after God through Christ. To describe this pursuit, Paul uses an athletic example and one we can easily, I think, understand. Paul urges Timothy to focus his energy on vigorous training in godliness. If you have ever seriously trained as an athlete, then you know what it is like to work really hard physically. I remember football practice at my high school in Houston. When I tell people I’m from Houston, most people sort of roll their eyes and have some comment about the high humidity and heat. It is hot and humid down there. I can remember during late summer workouts being so hot and tired and miserable, and we would all look at the sky just hoping for a few clouds that would give even just a few moments of relief from the sun. After practice, we would gripe and complain about the heat and the sprints and the length of practice, and the coaches at times. But you know what would happen the next day? We’d all show up again and go right back at it. The training would continue. The vigorous training would continue. Few would quit and give up. The benefits outweighed the misery. And so we continued on.

Godliness and godly habits will not just appear, there must be serious training.

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Don’t just enter the race to run a race, enter it to win. Run so that you may obtain the prize. Don’t box just to beat the air. Even this pursuit of godliness, even this is all about Jesus. I mean, what is the point of living a godly life? It is to be more like, to relate even more so to Jesus. I think we can get messed up here, easily so in our thinking. We can think the purpose of godliness is, well, just to be good. We can think the point of godliness is just to be moral, just to be obedient to parents or someone else. We can think it is all about looking good in front of other people or pleasing our spouse. But the point is to be like Christ Jesus, the point is to bring honor to this one whom we love, the point is to represent Him by being like Him. It is showing the world Jesus and worshiping Him. It is unecplising Him so the world can see Him and so that we can see Him more clearly.

You know, heaven is going to be much about Jesus. It will be seeing Him face to face, it will be knowing Him more intimately, it will be worshiping Him in greater fullness. Do we want that? Do we want that now? Are we training ourselves, seriously so, to know Him now?

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

Now this is the verse where some may say, “You see, I don’t need to exercise because if just has a little value!” Well, it doesn’t say not to exercise, only that compared to spiritual exercise its value is small. Yes, we should take care of these bodies that God has given to us, but we don’t need to lose sight of the great perspective regarding spiritual training. Spiritual training is of value in every way. It is profitable in this life and it extends even into the life to come. Going after Jesus, knowing Him now, growing in Him now, relating to Him now will naturally extend into eternity. It is like we begin now doing what we will love to do even in the next life. Why not begin now? Why not begin now loving the things we will love forever? Loving the one we will love forever?

This, what Paul is saying, is so in line with what the Christian life is to be that he says in verse 9, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.” In other words, by that statement Paul is just saying that these are obvious, commonly understood truths.

Now it may be easy for us at this point to think, “You know, this is way different than how I live, honestly. I come to chuch, I pick up my Bible on occassion, I pray at dinnertime, but really, I can’t say that I am one who is really, honestly interested in just pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus, or I’ve just not been doing that. Maybe deep down somewhere I want that, but the reality of my life shows otherwise.” Maybe at one time you were seriously pursuing Jesus, but that has grown cold. Maybe your world has more gray than color, maybe the eclipse of Jesus in your life has led you to a new normal of empty pursuits and loves. Maybe you are like the church at Ephesus that Jesus spoke of when He said they had lost their first love. They had gotten so caught up in serving that they forgot that it was Jesus they were to serve.

What kept Paul going, how could he continue to run the race to win? How was he able to stay consistent in his love and devotion to Jesus? Well, he tells us in verse 10: “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

Now this is serious, this toiling and striving. To toil is to labor to the point of weariness and exhaustion. And the word strive, from the Greek word is where we get the word meaning to agonize or agony, it is to engage in a struggle.

We all know what it is like, or most of us probably do, to labor at something to the point of exhaustion with great struggle. If something is worth it we do this. To do this as a Christian, that is to labor in this way for godliness, is only done if we have a view of eternity with Christ. Our hope set on the living God. A hope set on God that reaches into the realm of eternity where we will be with Christ.

24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-25)

Paul ends with an interesting phrase: “who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” There’s been a lot of debate over what Paul means that God is “the Savior of all people.” Some argue that Paul is saying all people will be eternally saved, however that view would contradict the vast teaching of the Bible as a whole. All people clearly will not be saved eternally. However, God does provide for and protect all people for a time on this earth. Even those who will never believe, God cares for and provides for them while here. In a sense He is their savior on this earth, but for believers that care goes way beyond this world and spans eternity.

It is amazing, really, that God cares for believers now, but He is gracious to even care for all of His enemies on this earth too. He sends rain on the evil and the good.

In conclusion this morning, I want to end with where we started. We are here because God created us to be here. And God created us to enjoy His Son Jesus. Our problem is we lose sight of that. Abundant life here is about Jesus. Contentment in life here is about Jesus. Peace here is about Jesus. Joy is about knowing Jesus. Excitement about the future is about Jesus. Worship is about Jesus. Laboring to the point of exhaustion is about loving Jesus.

Maybe for you, maybe you have lost sight of this. Maybe in the busyness of life you have lost sight of Jesus. If so, I urge you to rekindle that love, remember Him, know Him.

Let Him be your everything, and everything else will then be in submission to Him. Before you try to fix yourself and fix everyone else, go first to sit at the feet of Jesus – know Him and worship Him.

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:6-10)