Let's go to the bible. We're gonna read 1 Timothy. From 1 Timothy. It's chapter 1 verse 1. Check sorry.
Chapter 1 verse 12. 1 Timothy, chapter 1 and verse 12, and we're going to read right the way through to 2, chapter 2 verse 7. And Tom is going to open this passage up to us. 1 Timothy, chapter 1 verse 12 Paul is writing. He's the apostle writing to Timothy, and he says, I thank Christ Jesus, our lord, who has given me strength that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
Even though I was once a blast FEMA and a Persecutor and a violent man. I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of the lord was poured out of me abundantly along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here's a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.
But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the king eternal. Immortal, invisible. The only god, the honor, and glory forever and ever are men. Timothy, my son.
I'm giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you. So that by recalling them, you may fight the battle well, holding on to the faith and a good conscience. Which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to their faith. Among them is Jaimees and Alexander, who might have handed over to Satan to be taught, not to blaspheme. I urge you then, first of all, that petitions prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings, and all those in authority.
That they may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and please is god our savior. Who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is 1 god and 1 mediator between god and man kind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has has now been witnessed to you at its proper time.
And for this purpose, I was appointed a herald and an apostle. I'm telling you the truth. I'm not lying and a true and faithful teacher of the gentiles. Okay. Please have a seat and let me extend a very warm welcome to you.
My name is Tom Sweetman. I'm 1 of the pastors here at the church. And if you could Rio open your bibles to 1 timothy chapter 2 and those verses which we had read to us. And let's as we turn to the word of God, pray together. Father, we thank you that your name is great.
And your character is great and all the works that you have done are great and you are greatly to be praised you are worthy of all of our worship. And we pray, lord, that you would help us to worship you now by listening to those things which you have revealed to us in your word, the bible, in Jesus' name. Armen. Now last week, we were thinking about the danger of gospel drift If you heard that sermon, we were thinking about the danger of gospel drift. In other words, it is possible in the Christian life to start well, to begin well, to be full of hope and conviction and understanding.
But then at some stage over time to begin to drift away from those initial convictions, to drift away from the things that we believe so passionately at first. The trouble is with gospel drift. It's not always easy to spot when it's happening. It's not always easy to know. I read an illustration this week.
About swimming in the sea, which I thought was quite helpful. So the writer gets us to imagine, you're on the beach and you go into the sea to swim. And you're enjoying it. You splash around. You're swimming around for 10, 15 minutes or so.
And then suddenly, you turn around and look back at the shore and to your surprise and to your distress, you realize that your belongings have been taken, you know, your towel and your bag and your sun lounger If you were lucky enough to secure 1, it's gone. And for a moment, you think, what's happened to my staff? And then you realize, Oh no. It's not my stuff that's moved. It's me that's moved.
I'm the 1 who's I'm the 1 who's drifted. And then in those moments, you're trying to work out or just how far have I gone. And in order to understand that, you need to look for the things that are fixed, don't you? You need to look at the fixed markers in order to know how far you've moved. So you might say, oh, there's that there's that rock arch Well, that's not going anywhere.
There's that ice cream shop. That's not likely to have moved. So in other words, you look for fixed markers on the land to work out how far you've moved. You need those reference points. Now last week, Pete was helping us to see some of those reference points, some of those markers by which we can tell whether we've drifted and how far.
And in this passage we're looking at today, Paul gives us another 1. Here's a fixed marker. Here is something by which we could look at and tell how far we've drifted and it's this. How is our concern for the lost people of the world? How is our concern for the lost people of the world.
If we as Christians don't have some measure of concern for the people all around us who are perishing without Christ. If we don't feel the weight of that, then it's very likely we're experiencing gospel drift. 1 timothy puts on display the missionary heart of God. Have a look at me chapter 1 verse 15. Here is the trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. Chapter 3 verse 16, turnover. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godlyness springs is great. Jesus appeared in the flesh was vindicated by the spirit was seen by angels and then where was he preached? He was preached among the nations and he was believed on in the world.
And he was taken up into glory. Chapter 4 verse 10, the reason that we labor and strive is because we have put our hope in the living god and who is he. He is the savior of all people and especially of those who believe. And then back to chapter 2 verse 7, look at what Paul says about himself. And for this purpose, I was appointed a herald and an apostle.
I'm telling the truth. I'm not lying and a true and faithful teacher of the gentiles. Do you see the missionary heart of God? He wants Christ to be preached in all the world. He wants him to be believed on in the nations.
He appointed Paul to be a preacher of critical good news. He was to go into the world, even to the gentiles, and to proclaim the gospel. And now, Paul is saying to Timothy, my true son in the faith. I want you to lead your church in evangelistic prayer. That's what I want you to do.
I have written this letter. So that people will know how to conduct themselves in the household of God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. That's why I've written to tell the church how it should conduct themselves. Timothy, I want you to lead them in evangelistic prayer That's how they must conduct themselves because that is the heart of God. In front of us, is 1 of the great missionary passages of the bible.
And the purpose of it is to show us what our church is to be all about. The purpose of it is to put to death religious arguments about secondary issues so that we might unite around something that really matters the fate of those who were all around us. And the purpose of it is to reenergize us as individuals in the great commission. I urge you to pray all kinds of prayers. For all kinds of people because God wants all people to be saved.
That's what you should pray for. And so firstly, I'm gonna look at 3 things. Who should the church pray for? What should the church pray about and the heart of church prayer? Who should the church pray for?
Watch should the church pray about and the heart of church. Prare. The 2 will probably be shorter. First 2 shorter and the last 1 will be a bit longer. So firstly, who should the church pray for?
I'll have a look at verse 1. I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for or people. Now you just compare that list with the 1 that we looked at in chapter 1. What are the false teachers all about in the church? They are about false doctrines, myths, endless gene allergies and the sorts of things which promote speculation.
That's what that's their list. That's what they're into. Paul says, no Timothy, my son. Here's what you should be about. That's the sort of speech which wastes time which will distract you and will not advance the work of God.
Here's the sort of speech that you and your people should be about. Precious petitions simply means to cry out to god for the things that you need. Be about petitions. Be about intercessions. In other words, bring the stuff that you need before your heavenly king.
Praise for people. Bring them before the king. And be about thanksgivings. Do you feel the effect of that? Timothy, not myth, false doctrines, speculations, genealogies, but prayers, petitions, intercessions, thanksgivings.
That's the sort of thing that you and the church should be all about. And who should you pray for verse 1? It's pretty inclusive, isn't it? They should be made for all people. Not just some people, not the people that are like you, not the ethnicity that you favor, not the religious upbringing which you think is best, not the leaders you think are worthy of respect.
You should pray for all people, all people. And I imagine that this would have been a real blow for the false teachers to hear something like that. In chapter 1, it looks like they were trying to put real Christians back under the law. They were trying to enforce old testament Jewish standards on those who were already righteous in Christ. In chapter 4, it seems they were trying to forbid certain foods again.
They were trying to say, do you really want to be 1 of God's holy people you need to rediscover those dietary laws. Stop eating those things if you want to be clean. Now what does that sound like? It sounds like a Jewish better than you back to the old exclusive doctrine. And Paul is saying Timothy, if that takes hold in your church, how are the gentiles ever going to feel included?
Paul is not interested in that. We've seen his theology. Christ Jesus came in to all the world to safe sinners. God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, not just some or the sort that he favors because all people to come to a knowledge of the truth. Christ gave himself as a ransom for some For all, it says here.
He gave me there was a ransom for all people. I urge you to pray Timothy 4, all. How could any racist, self righteous, exclusive message possibly be Christian. When that source of God is in heaven, don't let that sort of doctrine take hold. First 1, I urge then first of all that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
It is of course impossible for us to literally pray for all people, but he's saying I want you to pray all sorts of prayers for all kinds of people. Do not let your cultural hangovers or your religious bias or your racial prejudice. Don't let that infiltrate your prayers. Don't exclude people from the blessing of God in the way that you pray. And we need to pray for all people, especially and including your leaders.
Have a look at verse 2. Intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, 4 kings, and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness, kings and all in authority. He really means Those who are in the highest positions of authority and those who who are in sort of sub authorities, all authorities, leaders right from the top to the sort that you might see all around. And I think this, even this would be another blow to the false teachers. Because they are always wanting to narrow things down.
These are the righteous ones. These are the people that we pray for. These are the people who will experience God's blessing, but Paul is expanding his vision of prayer to include all people, all across the nations, and all across the stations of the world. Not just the global, but all positions. He's saying, I want you to pray for all.
And you can imagine the church saying, do you even mean narrow? Paul. Even him. He was the 1 who was Caesar at this time. Do you even mean him?
Nero. He's a gentile and he's a monster and he hates Jesus. Do you mean we should pray for him? He says, yes, even even him. Even him.
And you imagine the the salt and light power of a church that was praying like that. They were saying, we're not going to pray too narrow but we will pray for nearer. We're not going to pray to him because we don't recognize him as the son of God. He's not our lord in that sense. We won't pray to him.
Well, that's gonna put them at difficulty, but we will pray for him because we want him to be saved And we want him to govern in such a way that will allow the church to flourish. We won't pray to him, but we're gonna pray for him. Now we'll come back to applying some of this a bit later, but I just wonder, even now, are there people who would never make it onto your prayer list? Are there people that we would never even consider praying for at the church meeting, church prayer meeting. And if so, why would that be?
Well, we can't pray for everyone Sure. We can't pray for everyone. But are there groups of people who would never make it onto our prayer list? And if so, why would that be? Is it just because we forget them?
Or maybe it's that? But it could be something less innocent than that, couldn't it? It could be that there are particular groups of people we will not pray for because we either think they're too bad or they're too far gone or we don't like them or they don't deserve it or we don't really want them coming in or they feel too remote and far away. And how is God ever gonna use our little prayers to affect leaders? What's the point in even praying for people like that?
In other words, are there little prejudices operating at a heart level which keep certain groups of people of our prayer list. Paul wants us to pray for all kinds of people, 4 kings, and for all in authority. Now what should we pray about? If that's who we should pray for, secondly, what should we pray about? Have a look at verse 2.
He says for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and it pleases God our Savior who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. And reading those sentences together is important to see the connections because Paul is not saying, I want you to pray for your leaders that you may be able to live a comfortable middle class life. That's what you should pray that you would be wealthier un troubled quiet and be able to go everywhere and buy everything without anyone saying, boom, to you. Now what he's saying is pray for them that we would be free to live for Christ in this world.
That's what you should pray. Now from 1 angle, Christians are always free to live for Christ in the world. You know, even somebody like Nero, he can throw everything in the kitchen sink at the church. He can try as much as he can. To put out its witness and to squash it in the world, and he will fail.
I mean, where is he now? And where are we now? We're always free to live for Christ. Whoever who who's on the throne. But generally speaking, we want leaders who govern in such a way that we are able to live open, untroubled Christian lives.
That's what we should pray for. So that we can live for Christ and make much of him in the world. Isn't that right? Is that what we want? Don't we want to pray that our children at school would be in classes where they are free to be open, honest Christians without humiliation, without embarrassment, and without punishment.
Isn't that what we want? We want to pray that they will be able to live in such a place that they can live untroubled open Christian lives. Isn't that the sort of environment that you would like to work in, hospital ward or an office or whatever it is, to be governed by a boss. Who will allow you to be a conscientious Christian, to live openly without fear of being fired or not invited to the work drinks. Because you talk about Jesus.
Praise that we would be governed in such a way that we can live untroubled Christian lives. But here's the thing. These prayers must also have a a gospel drive for our authorities. Because our real hope for our authorities is not just that they would lead well, but that they would come under the authority of Christ themselves. We want them to be saved.
Don't we? Not just to rule well, but to come to love Jesus. And we don't want that just so that they can make a whole load of Christian laws. We don't want really politicians who say right from now on, every single person regardless of their creed, religion, or race, must attend a Christian church on a Sunday. That is now the law.
We don't want to be ruled like that. That would produce hypocrisy and irreligious people. We don't want that. He's saying I want you to pray that they might be saved and that they might govern the world as a Christian not enforce Christian laws on everybody, but that they might govern as saved people. I want you to pray like that for kings and all in authority because it pleases God when people like that are saved.
So that's who we should pray for. That's what we should pray. And thirdly, let's look then and connect it to that point. Let's look at the heart of church prayer. And let's just see the whole thing in its flow versus 1 to 6.
I urge then, first of all, that petitions prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people, 4 kings, and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and it pleases God and Savior who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is only 1 god and 1 mediator between god and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. You see how the scale changes there in his mind. Across the world, there are millions of cultures and there are millions of subcultures and there are thousands of different language groups and there are thousands of different ethnicities.
And yet Paul is saying for that great mass of humanity, There is only 1 man. There is only 1 savior given who can save them all. You see, the nations of the world do not have their own individual gods who can save them. Despite what they may think. And there are no other priests or prophets or saints who can go before us to God or who can bring us to God.
And there is no king for all of his power who can command himself into the presence of God. There is only 1 name given. There is only 1 man who can go There is only 1 ransom that has been offered. There is only 1 sacrifice that has been made. 1 payment for sin.
1 lord risen, 1 king returning. The man, Christ Jesus. So I want you to pray for them all that they may come to the 1 because he is the only 1 that can save the people's of the world. And, you know, when you hear that, you need to know, this is not a kind of nasty God is ours and nobody else is, it is the precise opposite of that. Because if there is only 1, then he must be the 1 for the world.
The opposite is when every individual group and culture has their own gods. That's nasty and exclusive because it says, we've got ours and you can't come and unless you become like ours, you can't worship our God. That's the nasty view. But if there is only 1 god and savior of all mankind, that's about the most tolerant inclusive global god I can think of. There is only 1, and yet he is for the all.
When I used to do talks at Kingston University, some years ago now. 1 of the talks that CUs would often want is, is Jesus really the only way Is there really only 1 way to God? And behind that question, lots of people are asking, if God were more generous and more loving, Why wouldn't he provide millions of saviors for the millions of people? If he was more generous, Why wouldn't he give lots of ways for the lots of people? But that is to get the question the wrong way around.
That is to forget who we are. Christ Jesus came into the world to save god ignoring, sin loving, holiness, hating people, And therefore, we should be amazed that there is even 1 savior who has been given to all the world. We shouldn't be amazed that there isn't millions we should be amazed that there is even 1 who can save all, who trust in him. And so you see the implications of this. Praise for all because God once or to be saved.
It doesn't matter who they are or where they're from or what position inside society that they hold. There is enough love and forgiveness in the 1 ransom for all who will come. It's not lacking in forgiveness or love. It will purchase and save all who will come and therefore we should pray for all, shouldn't we? And look, just to say if you're here, and you're not a Christian, you know, you maybe wouldn't call yourself a believer.
The good news is that you are included in this all. You are part of the people groups of the world who can come to Jesus. And no matter who you are or what you've done, God desires that you would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth and the ransom that Jesus offered for your sins on a cross. Really is enough to pay for your sins. And if you will repent, if you will turn away from your sin and ask him to be your lord That is about the best thing you could ever do for yourself.
So come to him this morning. Okay. Before we, rub this in a little bit more before we think about some of these applications. Some of us might be wondering, and I think it's a good question to deal with. From verse 4, if God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, here's the question.
If he wants all people to be saved, Does God get what he wants? Will God get what he wants? If he desires that all people should be saved? In other words, Will God ultimately save every 1 even if they don't want to be saved? Will he have them all?
Despite whether they love him or trust him or not, does God get what he wants in this way? Well, that won't fit with this letter. And it won't fit with any book in the bible. Have a look with me even in this letter, chapter 4 verse 1. The spirit clearly says that in later times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
Chapter 5 verse 24, have a look down at that with me if you've got your bibles. The sins of some are obvious Reaching the place of judgment ahead of them. Some are going to the place of judgment. The sins of others trail behind them. Clearly, not all people are going to be saved.
So then the question is, well, is that a surprise to God? Or is that annoying for him? Is he going to be frustrated and grumpy for all eternity? Because not all was sane. Is this a kind of second best Well, that just won't do either.
If God is sovereign over all of history, which he is. And if he knows the end from the beginning, which he does. And if he knows the future of every human soul which he does. And if everything that he does, both in salvation and judgment, is to the praise of his glory, which it is, then do we have a god who ultimately in eternity's eyes in salvation and judgment gets what he desires a thousand times, yes, we do. But zoom in now to that individual soul.
You are with Jesus on a hillside in Galileo. And you are looking over a group of lost sheep. Some of them might be Pharisees. Some might be tax collectors, some might be very rich, some might be below the poverty line, some might know why they're there, Some don't have any idea how does Jesus feel as he looks upon each individual soul. He weeps for them.
And he longs that every single 1 of them would come under his wing and be saved He desires that not a single 1 in that crowd should perish, but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth. And be saved, every single 1 of them. And so it seems his biggest heart no no better theological term than that. His biggest heart is that none should perish. None.
But that all should come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. And shouldn't that be our heart as well for people? Brothers and sisters, is that not what we want? As we look out at the peoples of this world, that all of them should come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. Isn't that how the whole sentence fits together?
On Timothy 2. Praise for the more. This is good and it pleases God our savior. What does he want? He wants all people to be saved.
And to come to a knowledge of the truth. Well, there is only 1 god and 1 mediator between god and man, the man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all. We should want all to be saved. So what do we take away then as we close? Firstly, first application.
Paul does not want us to drift away from the gospel. He doesn't want us to drift away. But if we lose our evangelistic heart for the lost, then brothers and sisters, that will happen. It is hard to imagine somebody who is thrilled by the cross themselves and yet is also indifferent to the lost people all around them. If we are the 1 then we will pray for the other.
Paul does not want this life saving church in ephesus. To be distracted by nonsense. And so he reminds them of god's heart for the lost peoples of the world. And I think that would have been immensely helpful for Timothy to be able to read that letter to the church. Because if they can cultivate this heart in themselves, it'll put those religious arguments into perspective on it.
If the people all around us are drifting into an eternal night endless genie allergies lose their appeal, then they? Or they should, at least. Because we are united around something so much bigger and so much more significant than our own religious arguments. There's people going to hell all around us. Can we not unite around that concern.
And so I guess that means for us. If we find ourselves with loads of religious opinions about minor issues, but we never come to a prayer meeting to plead for the lost people of the world, then we are not where we should be. Love Christ, he says, See the peoples of the world and let those arguments be put in their proper place. Secondly, let's pray for our authorities. You think about the ones that you know the boss that you deal with every week or the teacher who takes your child every week, all kinds of authorities, local councils could be ever, whoever it is.
Complaining about them is not challenging, but praying for them that they would govern well and be saved is a fruit of the spirit. Now that is not to say that we can never complain about injustice, that we can never talk about, you know, hypocrisy and and and get that out. But a Christian sees wants to see deeper in the now. They want to see the man or the woman, not just as a politician, but as a person as they stand before God. And so we want to pray for them.
I mean, just this week, if you think about Nadeem Zohari, if you've been Following that story this week, I'm sure all the investigations are still ongoing. But if you know that story and the story of tax tax corruption tax avoidance. You know, it it is right that corruption is exposed and dealt with. Isn't it? We can't have leaders who lead like that and set that example.
It's good for us to know about that sort of thing. But a Christian has to see further in than that. Because Nadeem Zohari, we know, is not just a politician in trouble. He is a man who has been made in the image of God who has fallen into sin. And 1 day, he is gonna be on a hospital ward, or he's gonna be on a care facility or he's gonna be in his bed at home.
And then shortly after that, he will appear before his maker. And what is gonna become of his soul? And do we even care? If anybody should feel the weight of that, it is a Christian person. Because we know that god loves him and desires that he and lots of others like him would be saved.
That's what we should want for them. And honestly, if you could see a a spreadsheet of my words with 2 columns. On this side, complaints made about authorities And on this site, prayers offered 4 authorities. I can tell you which 1 would be fuller. And on that metric alone, I deserve the judgment of God.
My evangelistic heart for the authorities in my life has not been beating as it ought would have been. And Paul would say, no, Tom, you need to pray that people like them would be saved. And come to a knowledge of the truth. Thirdly and lastly, I hope you won't hear this as just what you need to do to avoid gospel drift is just pray more and pray longer and pray better. I hope you will hear this as be behold our God.
Behold him. And see his passion that all kinds of people would be saved and that as you see his heart for the loss, that we would be taken up with his concerns for the lost peoples of this world. I urge them first of all that prayers, petitions, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings, and all in those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness. This is good. And it pleases God our Savior who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
May that be the heart cry of our church.