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Pray for All People

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
April 29, 2021 2:00 am

Pray for All People

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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April 29, 2021 2:00 am

Listen as Pastor Steve McCullough resumes his series through the book of 1 Timothy. For more information about Grace Church, please visit us at www.graceharrisburg.org.

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I invite you to turn in your Bibles to 1 Timothy chapter 2. You'll be looking at verses 1 to 7. 1 Timothy chapter 2 verses 1 to 7 starting in verse 1.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, a godly and dignified in every way. This is good and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. I am telling the truth, I am not lying, a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

You may be seated. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we come to you in the name of your Son, who is our High Priest. He is the prophet, the one that gave us the word. He is our King who rules over us in heaven.

We look to the Son, we look to Christ, who is our mediator. We adore you, we love you for who you are and your many blessings that you have given us. We see you not only as a high king in heaven, but also a shepherd that has dwelt among us, that has come into creation and given us your word.

Sadly we are like sheep and we go astray, we are wayward, we sin against you in thought, word, and deed, and we repent of our sin. But we are thankful for your mercy, we are thankful for your grace, we are thankful that you are long suffering with us. So we praise you and thank you for who you are and your great mercy that you extend to us. We pray for the many unspoken prayers this evening, the ones that weigh heavy on our heart. We pray for the known prayers for Stephanie Yarborough, for Dale Valen, for Ray Green. We pray that you would continue to comfort them in this difficult time. We pray that you would bless them with an assurance of your love and your grace and your mercy and the promises of your word that there is a future hope that they might look forward to in heaven. In the meanwhile, Lord, we ask that you would bless this time this evening, that you would be honored and that your word would give us truths about who you are and that we can rely on you and trust in you because Christ has reconciled us to you through faith. Dear sons, let me pray.

Amen. It's a joy to be with you and we are out of chapter one and now we are getting into chapter two. And we know that we are transitioning into kind of the core of the book because of the phrase that we're first met with here. First of all, then, I urge. This is a transitional statement that is throughout the letters of Paul. In 1 Corinthians, I appeal. In 2 Corinthians, I beg. I urge.

I ask. It's kind of a marker that we're going to get into the core of the book. Now that we got all that out of the way, now the real business needs to be discussed. And so, getting into chapter two, we're going to look at an organization of the church. We've come out of Paul talking about his relationship with Timothy. He's warned Timothy and encouraged him to rebuke false teachers within the church. He speaks of his own testimony.

He kind of gives us an autobiography of the grace of God in his own personal life. And then he also gives us an example of church discipline, considering Hymenaeus and Alexander. So now we're getting into chapter two and three, and it's looking at how to organize the local church. We are going to look at tonight the guidelines to prayer. Next month I'll be looking at the roles of women in public worship, which will be coming from a Methodist background, an interesting passage to address.

But of course also the appointment of church leaders. And so I hope that I can shed light on the text as we're thinking about future elders and deacons in the church to be aware of these qualifications. But tonight Paul is addressing the topic of prayer. And what he wants us to do is to pray and live a peaceful life, because Christ is our mediator, and He is the mediator for all Christians. And so first I want to look at verses one to two. Paul calls us to prayer, a life of prayer and holy living. And then secondly I want to look at verses three to seven, where we'll see the basis for this call on our lives to pray and live holy lives.

And we see in three and four God's desire, verses five and six God's work. And finally Paul gives us his authority as an apostle, as the basis for our call to pray for one another, pray for those in authority over us, and then also that God would be honored as we preach the gospel and tell others of the salvation that is in Christ. So he opens up, he tells us, First I urge in supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people. Typically when I get up here and pray, I'm always honored when they let me pray in the morning service.

I kind of follow a formula that was given to me early on by Matthew Henry. He has a book called A Way to Pray, not the only way to pray, but A Way. And he maps out kind of the model prayer for him as he sees it in scripture of the word Acts, not the book of Acts, but the acronym A-C-T-S, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. And so he's talking about how we give adoration to God, we praise God for who He is and what He's done for us. We confess our sins, we bring our shortcomings, and God forgive me for what I've done.

Thanksgiving is that we honor God and thank Him for the mercy that He gives us. And then supplication would be as we prayed for Stephanie and Ray and Dale. These are specific prayers for people in certain circumstances. Paul begins with supplications. This would be a type of cry to the Lord for help, for those particular prayers in need. We see the word prayer meaning a more generic, simple word to simply mean to pray. Intercession, and this word will come up because it's what Christ does on our behalf. It is an earnest, urgent, bold appeal for God to do a divine action on behalf of others. And so as we pray, Christ is in heaven. Romans 8 will say that we are being interceded for by the Lord Jesus Christ.

And finally, Thanksgiving. This is praising God and thanking Him for His many blessings that we have in Him. And so this is kind of a model prayer that Paul uses here. But then it takes a turn, not only do we pray for one another, of course, and for many to come into the church, but he says specifically here to pray for kings and all who are in high positions. This is unusual for the time because we have to keep in mind where Paul is.

He's gotten out of prison. Now he is preaching the gospel. He's encouraging Timothy and the church of Ephesus. But he's saying pray for the secular leaders of society as they govern over the city of Rome, over the city of Ephesus. He's praying for them because God has placed them in authority. Romans 13, verse 1, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. This leadership has been placed by the Lord Himself. And so in honoring God, we honor those who are in authority over us.

Peter says the same thing in 1 Peter 2. No proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers.

Fear God. And honor the emperor. It seems a bit odd. Obviously we want to pray for fellow Christians and definitely Christian leaders, but now we're called to step outside of that for some reason, and we are to pray for our unbelieving leaders. And what makes this uniquely different for Paul is that he is asking us to pray for the Emperor Nero. He is praying for the man that was a brutal persecutor of the church.

It reminds me of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He says, But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. It's a mark of being a child of God that you might pray for those who malign you and mistreat you and persecute you.

This is a mark of Christianity. Paul is praying for the very man that put him in chains. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, all these letters are written back in prison and Paul is not saying, let's go against him, but he's saying, no, pray for the man. Pray for Nero. Pray for everyone that's in leadership that might hurt the church.

Why does he do this? He prays for them that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Paul reveals here that the primary purpose of this prayer, it's not necessarily for his conversion. That was my immediate thought that we want everyone to hear the gospel, that the Lord might effectually call him and bring him to faith and change a hard heart and then it would be better for the church. But Paul is actually prioritizing the safety of the local church. He's actually being a bit focused on us, on the local congregation. I'm sure he prayed for the conversion of Nero.

That's not my point. I'm sure that he prayed many times and he hoped that God would work through the government of Rome and ultimately with Constantine there was a shift. He was converted and it was a good thing to be a Christian and so there are times in church history where it's bad to be a Christian and there's times where it's good to be a Christian.

But Paul really here is focusing on you and I. He wants the church to be stable. He does not want to disrupt what is the existing church in Ephesus and so he's saying pray for the leaders, give them an example, do not go out and form some sort of militia. We're not planning revolution here. We're not trying to overthrow the Roman government.

We're not trying to overthrow the government of Ephesus. Rather, he is encouraging them to live quiet lives marked by dignity and godliness. And that word here, godly, half the time it's used in the Bible, it's used in 1 Timothy. It's kind of a mark of the local church and it's repeated multiple times in Paul's writing.

Chapter 3, the mystery of godliness is wrapped up in this Orthodox confession of faith in Christ and Timothy is called in chapter 4 to train himself in godliness. The word training is literally to sweat. It's where we get our word gymnasium. Gymnasium is to sweat and to work and to strive and to advance in personal holiness and sanctification. And so he is training in faithfulness that God would work mightily through Paul and that now Paul is handing this off to Timothy and he's saying with a sincere faith comes a sincere holiness and that is Christian living.

Kind of like a marathon runner. You don't just have one strong leg and have a weak leg. Each step is bouncing off the next foot and so you have not only a strong profession of Christ but there's also a holiness that comes with this.

There is not only right knowledge of truth but also there is godly character that goes with it. And so he says to pray for the leadership. Pray for these persecuting kings. Pray for the emperors. Pray for the political leadership. And really the goal is that we would not be limited as the local church by the civil government.

He wants us to operate as well as we can and in doing so we might love Christ and honor God. Considering our own country I think about what the next ten years might look like for the American church. There is a strong possibility I don't want to doomsday. I don't want to tell the future of doomsday everybody but I think that what might be on the horizon for the local church is there might be additional pressure on us to compromise. There's already a lot of talk in the media about losing a tax exempt status. I think about we might lose the 501c3. We might lose the ability to operate in clear Christian expression when it comes to marriage. If we do not bow the knee we might be deemed bigots and haters and we might be ticketed with hate crimes. We might be thrown in prison.

There's no telling what might happen. Christian universities that want to believe that the Bible is the word of God might lose student loans and Pell grants and might be taxed fully or if not at a higher rate. There might be additional pressure in the future on the local church in America. It's hard to say that we need to pray for our president. We need to pray for our senators. We need to pray for our congressmen. We need to pray for the governors, the mayors. We have to pray for everyone that is in authority because God has told us to pray for everyone that is in authority. Again, we're praying for people that might raise political pressure against the local church and might even go as far as to teach their children to raise political pressure against our own children.

It seems natural that we would be frustrated with this. We do not want to pray for those that persecute us, but there is a supernatural love that comes from a redeemed heart when we pray for those who hurt us, persecute us, and slander us and malign us. What we do is we pray for all people.

We pray for all people because God has asked us to pray for all people. John Piper has a quote about the Christian church and where we've come from over the last hundreds of years. Citizenship in America has fit nicely into being an American.

I want to share this quote with you. Christianity in America has been so culturally dominant and materially prosperous that it has created a massively, deeply unbiblical mindset, namely that we feel at home in the world. Christianity feels normal when we're here in America.

This is our land. This is the way that we do things. This is the way that we think about things. We are Christian here. We enjoy being thought well of for that.

We expect things to go well. In America, the call to be a Christian has not been the call to be an alien or a foreigner. It has not been the call to be a sojourner or an exile or to be out of step.

It is a call to be a respected citizen in the community. We get angry if you treat my Christianity as though it's not the norm. My views of things as if it's not the norm. I get angry when you take away my culture, when you take away my land, my history.

I get mad because I have developed a Christianity with assumptions that assume dominance and prosperity and normal and fitting in. I've got to say ouch on that. If you can't say amen, say ouch.

Grace Church, first and foremost, we are Christians. Yes, we are Americans. I think America is the best thing going.

I wouldn't want to be in any other country. But we have to see ultimately where our citizenship truly lies. We have brothers and sisters in government. We have God that people are going into the political sphere and hopefully protecting us and citing our constitutional rights. But at the same time, we have to remember that this is not our home.

Ultimately, America is not our home. Paul knew this. Paul was deeply persecuted in every city that he went to. Often ran out of town and beaten with clubs. He was brutally persecuted for his faith.

So being in prison was not a shock for Paul. Again, he wants to remind us that our true citizenship is in the kingdom of God. It is in heaven with our Lord. We are not home yet. We are weird. We are aliens. We are travelers. We are sojourners. We are citizens of the Republic. I hear you.

I understand. But ultimately, we are Christians and we serve a king who is enthroned in heaven and that is the one in whom we must answer to. And so let us pray for those in high positions.

And remember ultimately that we look to our citizenship that is in heaven. Verses 3 and 4, we're going to see the basis for our call is God's saving work. His desire is expressed in verses 3 and 4. This is good and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So it is good and pleasing to God in His sight, in the sight of God our Savior, that is Christ Jesus, who desires all people to be saved. Now what does this passage mean, that He desires all to be saved? On the surface it looks like God wants everyone, everywhere, to be saved. And when I check the Greek, it actually talks about all people and being saved is in reference to eternal life. There is a salvific or a saving way that God wants all people to be saved. And so we have a couple of options to go through and we have to figure out, looking at the text, looking at it in context with the rest of the Bible, what does God mean that He wants all to be saved?

Our first option is universalism. God saves everyone. Ultimately all will be reconciled to God. If the verse says God desires all to be saved and He is in complete sovereign control over everything and it is His plan of redemption, that means that everyone will be saved.

Atheists, agnostic, Muslims, Jews, Judas Iscariot, who we see is the son of perdition. Under universalism He too would be saved. If you read the history of Israel though, you see that God does not love everyone in a saving way.

Both Jew and Gentile would not be new to this. They would see clearly from the Old Testament in the Exodus story where the Egyptians who were chasing after Israel were drowned in the Red Sea. They were not saved. Pharaoh was not ultimately given salvation. They were enemies of Israel.

They were seeking to kill Israel. Jesus warns us in Luke chapter 13, repent. Unless you repent, you will likewise perish. The Pharisees are giving them a hard time.

They are challenging His authority. He says, I told you that you would die in your sins. Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. We have clear teachings in Matthew 25 of the second coming where Christ will return and He will divide believers and unbelievers, sheeps and goats, wheats and tares. He says, then He will say to those on His left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Again, the passage says that God wants all to be saved.

How do we reconcile this? A second view, a second option might be that God desires that all would be saved, but ultimately some would reject the Gospel. This is the Armenian view. It is referring to the view of salvation, that God offers salvation to all, but ultimately they reject it. What I would say is that ultimately that means that God cannot save them. God is in control of everything in the universe, yet He is not able to save us. This would mean that Jesus tried.

He really did. But ultimately He could not get the job done. The Father has this plan of redemption, but they are thwarted by our personal decision. We must respond to God even though Ephesians 2 says that we are spiritually dead in our sins. We must seek God, but Romans 3 tells us no one seeks after God. This just simply would not work with the nature of God. But ultimately this means that God can be resisted. He is in heaven.

Hundreds of thousands of people die every day. God is in heaven looking down at the earth and He is sitting on His hands hoping that maybe we might choose Him today. He can't do it. He can't save them.

God is a gentleman. He can't go in there. He can't give us a heart of flesh as Ezekiel 36 tells us. He can't change our hearts. He can't give us new life in Christ. He just simply can't do it.

This view would say that it's wrong when we pray, God save my unbelieving family member. God save, convert the hard heart of Nero. God simply just can't do it. He's not able to. It would mean that God is not all powerful. He desires that people be saved, but He just simply cannot do it.

He cannot achieve and accomplish His divine will. And so still, what does it mean? We see this first saying that He desires that all would be saved. This is the third and final point that I would say, that Paul desires that all people would be saved. This is referring to all people groups. Every nation, every tribe, every tongue, every people all over the world. That among them there are individuals within the country of America that belong to Christ. There are Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are Christians in Sweden, in Norway. There are Christians in Antarctica.

Scientists working in Antarctica. They are called by God and God desires that all people groups, Remember, salvation was specific to Israel. You had to be within Israel to be saved. And so it is a wild notion that the Messiah of Israel would expand out to Gentiles, that is non-Jewish people.

And so when he says it's not just them, it's for all people. It's for all people everywhere that they might come to faith. This is a salvation for not only Jews, Greeks, slaves, free, male, female. We are all one in Christ and we are heirs to the promise given by a Jewish Abraham.

This is given to us through the work of Christ and He desires that all would be saved. That the Gentiles are grafted in. Ephesians 3 tells us, earlier generations didn't know that hidden plan of God is now revealed in His holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit.

This plan is that Gentiles would be co-heirs and parts of the same body. And that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. God is drawing a nation to Himself. He is, for a rebellious nation, He is sending gospel out through its missionaries and teachers and apostles. Through Paul here He is going out into the Gentile nations and He is giving them the gospel message. And many are coming to faith through the power of the Spirit and it is God that saves.

We do not save ourselves. God saves us through His Spirit. And it is the gospel message that we hear that the effectual call becomes a reality within our own heart. And ultimately this Lord and Savior Jesus becomes our mediator.

The second call, the second basis for our call here is the work of salvation. There is one God and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Christ becomes not only our mediator but He is a Savior that comes into the world sent by the eternal plan of the triune God. God is not simple like you and I. There is three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And the plan of redemption is that God the Son would be sent into the world. And that He might be a mediator and an intercessor for us. That He prays on our behalf to the Father. Christ is our mediator in the sense that He organizes this connection between sinful man and a holy God. This is the role of a mediator that is seen throughout the Old Testament.

In the cases of Abraham and Moses and David and Samuel and Hezekiah and Elijah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. These prophets of old are a meeting point between a holy God that appoints them to ministry and then a sinful man that is separated due to their sin. And what Christ is doing is He is coming in and He is the ultimate mediator. Because we pray as Christians, God please save this person, comfort this person, bring them to faith.

Christ is working mightily to bring fellow believers into the local church, giving them saving faith. And He is a greater mediator than any of the Old Testament prophets. It must be Christ that intercedes on our behalf. And He intercedes not on behalf of atheists, not on behalf of Muslims. Again when we look at all people, Christ is only interceding on behalf of Christians.

And those Christians are spread throughout all people in the world. John gives us an example of Jesus being our intercessor in John chapter 17. He says, I am praying, I am not praying for the world. He is not praying for everybody. He is specifically praying for those in whom you have given me, for they are yours. And He is referring to His disciples that are with Him.

Because He later says in the same chapter, I don't ask for these only. Not just these few disciples, these apostles. I am praying for all those who will believe in Me through their word. That they may be one just as you Father are in Me and I in you.

And they also may be in us. So that the world may believe that you have sent Me. Christians are being united to Christ and Christ is in union with the Father. And it's pointing to this reality that Jesus is our great High Priest. He offers Himself up as a sacrifice, satisfies divine justice, He reconciles us to God. And then He makes continual intercession on our behalf in heaven. He is our mediator. He is the one that we have.

If we were to ever have, you might have the best lawyer in town, Christ is the ultimate mediator. He is the ultimate advocate that speaks on our behalf to a heavenly Father. Revelation chapter 5 tells us they sing a new song. They praise God in heaven that worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals. For you were slain and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. God is a Savior not only to just the Gentiles but He gathers Christians throughout the world. Jesus died as a ransom for Christians. He is an atoning sacrifice.

We see this throughout the Bible especially in Isaiah chapter 53 that by His stripes we are healed. We are saved through His laying His life down on our behalf. And so He is a ransom not for the world but specifically for believers. He is both fully God as God the Son but He also is the Word incarnate. He is God that comes into the world and He is without sin. And what must be noted here is that not only is Christ the unblemished Lamb, not only is He the one that is the ultimate sacrifice for us, but He is also one that can stand before the Lord just as the priests of old would do going into the temple and before the presence of God. So He is both priest and sacrifice. Only Christ saves. Only He can accomplish this work on our behalf. And so finally our third sub point here is Paul cites his own missionary call.

For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. I am telling the truth. I am not lying.

A teacher to the Gentiles in faith and truth. Notice he has to say I'm telling the truth. I'm not lying. He has to clarify.

This isn't a joke. It's not just for the Jews. I really am sent out to the Gentile nations. And for this message Jesus is going in and He is our mediator. He has the God given authority. He gives Paul the God given authority to be a messenger on his behalf. And he ultimately tells Paul, and Paul tells Timothy, Preach the word.

Proclaim this truth. Proclaim it loudly that Jesus Christ is Lord and He can save and that we must look to Him, be under the means of grace, hear the preached word that Christ does save. And in doing so God changes a heart of stone. He gives us this heart of flesh. We are now convicted over sin. We repent. 2 Timothy chapter 2 tells us that repentance is granted. Ephesians 2 tells us that faith is granted by grace. Even the faith that we think that we created, no, God gave us that by grace. It's all what God does for us.

It's nothing that we do ourselves. And so Paul is just saying I'm going to get out here and just simply tell you I don't have to do anything. God is what changes a heart. God is who grants salvation. And in doing so he tells Timothy, Proclaim this truth. Teach this truth. That is explain this truth. Not only proclaim it but after the fact explain what's going on. Explain how God is working through this gospel message. And he cites his authority to say this is ironclad from the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Who says I can say this? Jesus Christ, God the Son, tells me to proclaim this truth to anyone and everyone indiscriminately and God will work to draw all people, that is all Christians, to himself. And so in closing some points here of application, pray. Pray often, pray frequently, pray brief, pray urgently. Pray for specific people and their circumstances. Pray for our enemies. It's difficult to pray for enemies but that's exactly why we ought to pray more diligently. Pray for all people.

Secondly, live a quiet life. We are not called to overthrow the government. We are not called to tremendous moves of earthly political things. I love in our confession it says that we are only to deal with that which is ecclesiastical. As a minister of the gospel I only deal with what is involved in the church and I relish in that.

I'm so glad to just concern myself with my fellow citizens here in the local church. But we are to live lives that are marked with a quiet life, marked by peace, marked by dignity, and of course godliness. Third, in ordinary ways I hope that we can tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not, like I said, ordinary means.

It does not need to be some TV broadcasting sort of thing. There's nothing wrong with that. But we don't have to do these big movements of God. All we need to do is live a humble, dignified life honoring the Lord when given the opportunity to tell others about Jesus and to simply point them to salvation in Christ. So in summary, pray, live a quiet life, and tell everyone about Jesus.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we do come to you only in the Son, the Son who has given us a new heart, the Son who is our Intercessor, He is our Mediator. We ask that you would remind us of this truth regularly that without Christ we have no access to you.

We have no salvation found in anywhere. It is only in Christ that we are reconciled to you by faith. We ask that you would write this truth on our hearts. It would be a reality within our hearts that we would live quiet and dignified lives honoring the Lord with right conduct and with a right doctrine within our own hearts. In your Son's name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-24 12:21:53 / 2023-11-24 12:34:54 / 13

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