I have a Bible that has been passed down on my Dad’s mother’s side of the family. There are birth and death dates recorded. There is a receipt for 40 acres of land purchased in 1920. Having been protected in that Bible for all those years it looks as if it were signed yesterday. This Bible is precious to my family and has been passed down for safe keeping.
1. What family treasures or traditions have been entrusted to you?
2. How does the fact it has been entrusted to you foster a greater sense of responsibility to other family members?
We, as believers, have been entrusted with the gospel. Having received God’s grace, we’re called to share the truth of the gospel faithfully with others—pass it on in a sense.
(Give class members copies of Pack Item 10 and Pack Item 12.)
Most likely Timothy had become a Christian prior to meeting Paul. Once they did meet they established a very close relationship, even to the point that Paul referred to Timothy as his “true son in the faith”. They had traveled together and, likely due to Paul’s teachings, Timothy had become well grounded in the faith. Paul loved the church at Ephesus and was very concerned about the false teaching that was there inside and outside the church. Therefore, Paul instructed Timothy to stay in Ephesus and help set things right. Timothy would have to be kind and gentle but firm in his stance on correct doctrine.
The culture of Ephesus was strong in pagan idolatry, sexual immorality, and greed surrounding the temple of ‘Artemis, known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Paul called on Timothy to be strong and courageous in proclaiming the truth of the gospel in his cultural setting.
Read 1 Tim. 1:1-2
After his greeting, Paul got right to the point of his letter!
Accountable! Read 1 Timothy 1:3-7
1. Why was Paul so concerned about what the false teachers were saying? (They were leading people astray. Christians could be misled into believing something that is false and non-believers could be led to depend upon their own works to save them.)
Briefly cover the three major heresies that were prevalent in Paul’s day. Legalism—adherence to the Jewish law makes one right with God. Antinomianism—Since we are saved by faith how we act doesn’t matter. We can sin all we want because we are under grace. Gnosticism—Special knowledge is more important than faith and there are different levels of Christians because some have received a divine spark as the elect of the good deity. They taught that a self-discovery experience that claimed to solve life’s mysteries and was enhanced by participation in rituals.
2. From the verses we read what are the characteristics of each type of teaching—True Gospel Teaching and False Teaching?
Truth—goal is love; pure heart; good conscience; operates by faith. False—myths; endless genealogies; empty speculations; not God’s plan; fruitless discussion; they teach from ignorance.
Read Acts 20:29-30.
3. How are the threats to the gospel message that Paul identified still risks today? (The desire to pollute the gospel by subtracting from it, adding to it, or inventing something entirely new appeals to everyone’s sinful natures. Getting sidetracked with intriguing ideas and speculative questions leads nowhere. Chasing different doctrines diminishes our wholehearted faith in the gospel message.)
I’m told experts are trained to recognize counterfeit currency by studying the real bills, not by looking at the false ones. If we know the true doctrine well enough we will easily recognize the false doctrine. That is why Bible study is so important from childhood through senior adulthood.
4. Why is it important that we call out those who choose to teach a different doctrine? (Sound teaching depends on trusting in the complete authority of the Scriptures. Kindly and respectfully pointing out inconsistencies, misstatements, and errors is part of being obedient to speak the truth in love!)
5. What responsibility does a teacher have to the people he or she teaches? (Study the Word, be properly prepared and teach the truth.)
6. What responsibility does the person being taught have to the one teaching? (Study the passage before class and add to the discussion. Gently challenge any false teaching.)
In Light of the Gospel! Read 1 Tim. 1:8-11
The list of sins in these verses is not exhaustive. These are simply examples and finally in verse 10 Paul says and anything “else that is contrary to the sound teaching based on the glorious gospel…”
1. What was the purpose of the law God gave? (To show us the holy life we were to live. But no one could live up to the law’s standards. Read Gal. 3:19-24; Rom. 7:7-14.)
2. What does illegitimate use of the law look like? (The law may be used as a stumbling block when we use it to condemn others or fail to contextualize it.)
Tucked among the extraordinary sinners, such as murderers and kidnappers, are the petty, the irreverent, and the liars, which points back to the inclusive nature of a law that—outside of Christ—judges each of us as lawbreakers.
3. How does the law point to the need for a Savior?
4. How does Jesus provide what the law could not?
5. Read 1 Cor. 15:20-22. How would you restate or explain the doctrine in one or two sentences? (What will happen to you when this body dies? The “default” setting is hell. You have to make a conscious choice to change it to Heaven by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior!)
6. How does this doctrine impact your understanding of 1 Tim. 1:8-11?
In Response to His Grace! Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17
1. What did Paul think about himself compared to every other person on earth? (He was the chief sinner. His picture of himself is the same picture each of us should have for ourselves. Far too often I’m looking at some else thinking I’m not as bad as that person. No! I’m worse!)
2. What in Paul’s past made him think so lowly of himself? (On the road to Damascus Jesus appeared to him and asked why Paul was persecuting Him. I don’t think Paul could ever put that image out of his mind.)
3. What do we learn about Christ from these verses?
4. How did Paul’s past influence his understanding of the gospel?
5. What role did mercy play in Paul’s salvation?
6. What role did grace play in Paul’s salvation?
7. Do you agree or disagree that it is essential to your testimony as a believer to be open about your past struggles? (Details are not necessary but we must face our past struggles to help us and others see the victory Christ has won in our lives.)
8. Read verse 15. Why is this considered a non-negotiable truth? (This is the gospel! Without this truth we are forever lost!)
9. What are some other non-negotiable truths of the gospel? (Faith alone. Christ alone. Christ died for my sin and was resurrected on the third day to secure my redemption.)
10. What are indicators that a person truly recognizes their depravity and sinful state? (They are broken hearted over it.)
11. How did Paul’s life become an exhibit of God’s grace and mercy?
12. Why is a personal testimony such a rich and powerful tool for communicating the truths of the gospel? (Personal testimonies are always unique to individuals, but God extends the same mercy and grace that He gave to Paul to everyone who believes.)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Because God has called us to act as guardians of the gospel, what can we do to live out that responsibility?
2. Have you taken time to write your testimony or rehearsed it verbally?
Father, help us to “study to show ourselves approved a workman who need not be ashamed rightly dividing the Word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15