A Man walks into a church, this particular church is one of many throughout the city, all claiming the same message, that Christ is Lord. He sits through the sermon, this man, a believer, a protégé of a very important man in many churches. The stranger listens with great interest as the Elder gives his long, droning sermon. “God is knowledge, if we have true knowledge then we know God,” The Elder asserts. “Therefore we should abstain from food, and no man should be married, lest he stray from his quest for new knowledge.”
“But how do we attain new knowledge?” a woman yells out.
“Yes how?” another one asks.
The service has been interrupted, everyone is shouting at one another. The stranger simply gets up and leaves’, shaking his head; his work has been cut out for him. He will have to send a thank you letter to his mentor, Paul. Why? Because this man was no ordinary visitor, his name was Timothy and he was sent to the City of Ephesus by the Apostle Paul.
“As I urged you when I went to Macedonia” Paul begins 1 Timothy 1:3 “Remain at Ephesus so that so that you may command certain persons not to teach certain doctrines.” A very awkward situation to be put in, go into a church, that was about 5 years old, and set straight false teachers. Most of us would not know how to handle this sort of situation, we are so used to false doctrine that Timothy’s command seems a little strange. It would have been uncomfortable for him too. Timothy is not a pastor, not an apostle, no, he is not even an ordained elder. He is Paul’s voice, he had hands laid on him (4:11-16) at Antioch and been prophesied over, now this young man, around 30, was being asked to set straight one of the larger churches in the biblical account.
A Summer In Ephesus
Technically speaking, I spent the summer in biblical Ephesus. I studied the culture through the lens of the biblical account. It was an incredible journey, supplemented by an incredible Sunday School Class that went through the book of 1st Timothy. The theme of the class was Gospel Stewardship, we took the book of 1st Timothy and asked the question “How can we be good Stewards of the Gospel.”
I want to extend my summer in Ephesus, I want to spend a fall and spring in Ephesus as well and I want to take you on the journey with me. I want you to ask the question of Gospel Stewardship. This year I want to take a closer look at what constitutes sound doctrine. So let us start with the problem at Ephesus.
When False Teachers Come Knocking.
Acts 19 & 20 gives us the outline of the church at Ephesus. Paul does say one thing that we need to remember as we look at 1st Timothy. Acts 20:29 states: “I know that after my departure, fierce wolves will come among you, not sparing the flock.”
Unfortunately for Paul and the church at Ephesus his prediction came true, which is why Timothy was sent there. I am sure that it all started innocently enough, false teaching generally does, and maybe the people did not realize they had been deceived. They were deceived however, but a myriad of teachers.
Do we have this problem in the church today? I believe we do. One does not have to listen to TV preachers long to hear unsound doctrine. It sounds as flashy as the suits some of the preachers wear, great to the ears and even sweet to the taste, but really bad for your health. Spiritual and otherwise.
“The Aim of Our Charge”
This year we want to take a closer look at false teachings as well as sound doctrine. We also want you to be informed, in the information age it is hard to know who or what to listen to. I will also encourage you to study the scriptures, to put all teachings, to the test of scripture.
Vital to this study is 1 Timothy 1:5 which reads: “The aim of our charge is love; that comes from a pure heart, a good conscious and a sincere faith.” This should be the aim of our charge, to love someone. False teachers can be transformed by the gospel, be changed by the love of Christ. Therefore we must deal with them lovingly and show them what it means to bear good fruit through our Christian life.
This is one of the themes of 1st Timothy and I hope you will join me over the next 8 months as we look to learn how to be good stewards of the gospel, in a society that in some cases, is not.
Jonathan David Faulkner
10:31 Life Ministries / Director.