A Commitment to Seeking and Saving the Lost

 

 

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A Commitment to Seeking and Saving the Lost

Text:1 Tim. 2:3-6

Dr. Alex Tang

 

We believe that lost people matter to God and to us.

Therefore, we are committed to reach the lost through life-style and friendship evangelism.

We will seek the lost in the community by serving them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                        

3 This is good, and pleases

God our Savior,

 4 who wants all men to be saved          

and                                  to come to a knowledge of the truth.

 

                5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men,

the man Christ Jesus,  6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men—

 

  the testimony given in its proper time.

7 And for this purpose

 

I was appointed a                                     herald

and an                                           apostle

-I am telling the truth, I am not lying—

and                                               a teacher

of the true faith to the Gentiles.

8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in       prayer,

 without anger or disputing.

 

Background

From his concerns about false teachers in Chapter 1, Paul turned to matters relating to the conduct of the church broadly. Paul began with what he considered most important: prayer.  The Ephesian church was to pray “for everyone” (v. 1, lit., “all men”), but especially for the leaders of civil government. Paul did not specify here the content of these prayers, but almost certainly he was instructing that requests be made for the salvation of the populace and its governors. This can be seen clearly from the following verses.

 

With Nero’s growing resentment toward Christians—which came to full bloom after the fire in Rome in July, a.d. 64—and the general disintegration of the Roman Empire due to Nero’s profligacy, Christians began to suffer persecution from the Roman authorities. Having recently been released from his Roman imprisonment, Paul was greatly aware of the deteriorating political atmosphere. Thus he urged prayer for the salvation of all men, but especially rulers, so that the stable, noninterfering environment of previous days might be recovered. Times of political and social upheaval are excellent times in which to die for Christ, but hard times in which to live for Him.

 

As in modern times, some in the Ephesian church were prepared to question the validity of a prayer for the salvation of all men. Thus Paul defended his instructions by pointing out that such a prayer is good, and pleases God our Savior (cf. 1:1). Literally, the Greek says that such a prayer is “acceptable before” (in the presence of) God. Many prayers are unacceptable to God, but not this one.

 

Bible Exposition

v.3a  This is good, and pleases God

 

            The reason this prayer is acceptable to God is that it is a prayer “according to His will” (1 John 5:14). 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  

 

v. 3b God our Savior,

God, who is by nature a Savior, wants all men to be saved. Paul repeated the words “everyone” (1 Tim. 2:1) and “all men” (vv. 3, 6). The same Greek word (pas, “all”) is used in each case, referring all three times to the same group. God desires that no one perish (2 Peter 3:9), that the entire human race come to know the truth through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the Truth (John 14:6). 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Of course not all do come to salvation; Paul was not teaching universalism.)

 

v.4a     who wants all men to be saved

This statement accords well with Jn 3:16 and with the declaration in 2 Co 5:14-15  15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

 That Christ died for all. Salvation has been provided for all, but only those who accept it are saved.

 

v.4b     and to come to a knowledge of the truth.      

"Knowledge"  means precise and accurate knowledge. Such knowledge of God's truth is both the root and fruit of salvation. Paul here sounds a frequent note: true knowledge saves one from error. The next verse is all about this true knowledge.

 

v.5a For there is one God

This is one of the most significant verses of the NT. It declares first of all that "there is one God." This is a primary affirmation in the OT, in opposition to the polytheism of Paul's day. The fact that there is only one God (monotheism) is the basic premise of both Judaism and Christianity.

 

v. 5b and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 

But then comes a difference, for Christianity goes on to assert that "there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." "Mediator" occurs only once in LXX (Greek translation of the OT). Job was frustrated by the fact that God was not a man with whom he could converse. In despair he wished that there might be someone to arbitrate between himself and God (Job 9:33). Christ is the answer to this ancient cry for help. A "mediator" is someone who intervenes between two parties, either to make peace and restore friendship, or to form a covenant. In keeping with this, Christ by his death restored the harmony between God and human beings which sin had broken.

 

    To be of any use, a bridge across a chasm or river must be anchored on both sides. Christ has closed the gap between deity and humanity. He has crossed the grand canyon, so deep and wide, between heaven and earth. He has bridged that which separated us from God. With one foot planted in eternity, he planted the other in time. He who was the eternal Son of God became the Son of Man. And across this bridge, we can come into the very presence of God, knowing that we are accepted because we have him as a Mediator.

 

v. 6a   who gave himself as a ransom for all men—

 This Jesus gave Himself up to die on the cross as a ransom antilytron. A “ransom” for a slave or prisoner, in Matt. 20:28; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” for the human race.

 

This Christ "gave himself as a ransom for all men." The word "ransom" means that which is given in exchange for another as the price of redemption. In the first century it applied especially to the price paid to free a slave. So Christ paid the ransom to free us from the slavery of sin. Because of this we are rightfully his possession. Jesus gave his life as a ransom "for all men." The Greek word translated "for" means "on behalf of." Christ died on behalf of all people, but only those who accept his sacrifice are set free from the shackles of sin.

 

v.6b  the testimony given in its proper time.

This message of Christ's redemptive death was the distinctive apostolic witness--"the testimony given in its proper time." Christ's sacrifice for sin took place at God's appointed hour. This act is a clear testimony, offered at just the right time (Gal. 4:4-5  4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,  5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.; Heb. 1:1-2 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.), of God’s desire to save all men ( Titus 1:3 ).

 

 v. 7,8    And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle--I am telling the truth, I am not lying--and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles. I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

 

 The exclusivists in the Ephesian church evidently felt that the gospel was only for Jews. This was a common problem, as seen preeminently in the case of Peter (cf. Acts 10:9-43; Gal. 2:11-13). Thus Paul cited his own commission as apostle . . . to the Gentiles as a clincher. "An apostle" means "one sent on a mission." Paul had been appointed a herald (keµryx, “messenger”) to take the gospel to the majority of the human race that the Jews thought inferior.

 

He is also to teach - Paul was "a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles." This was his special assignment from the Lord . Paul was "a Hebrew of the Hebrews" and brought up a strict Pharisee, he had been born in Tarsus, one of the three main centers of Greek learning (after Athens and Alexandria), and was therefore suited to this assignment. The Christian leaders at Jerusalem  also agreed that he should evangelize the Gentiles.

 

Lifting up one's hands in prayer is often mentioned in the OT (e.g., 1Ki 8:22; Ps 141:2; 143:6). It is a natural gesture, indicating earnest desire. The word "holy" here means devout, pious, and pleasing to God. Linked to lifting up holy hands is the idea of moral purity. We cannot pray effectively unless our lives are clean and committed to our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing does more to alienate the mind from sincere prayer than an attitude of anger and a quarrelsome spirit.

 

Thus, as Paul reminded the Ephesians, it can be seen that God desires everyone to be saved.

 

We can take our example from Paul. To seek the lost, he was sent  to proclaim, teach and to pray for them.

(1)   Proclaiming the good news. Proclaiming that God is a savior. As an apostle, Paul went to where the lost is, to proclaim the good news.

 

(2)   Teaching the good news means we not only have to proclaim but we have to teach the meaning of the good news so that people will understand what it means. Our responsibilities do not end with preaching or proclaiming. It does not end by just sharing the 4 spiritual laws, the bridge illustration or having an evangelistic dinner and asking for a show of hands. It means we to make sure those we proclaim to understand the message. The message is God is Lord. God is Lord of Creation. God is Lord of our lives. We become part of the message – our love for people, our lifestyle, whether ‘we walk the walk’. If our non Christian friends look at us and do not see God is Lord in our lives, then we would have failed to communicate the message.

 

(3)   Prayers for the lost. It is our job as Christians to proclaim and to teach the good news but it is God who saves. We have to pray to for the lost.

 

A Commitment to Seeking and Saving the Lost

This is a core value of Holy Light Church because of 2 reasons:

(1)               The first reason is primary and fundamental. The chief end of man is to glorify God. The biblical rule of life is to do all to the glory of God. Men glorify God by obeying His Word and His revealed will. 1CO 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. John 14:21  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."  Seeking and saving the lost (evangelism) is what  God has commanded. Matt.24:14  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. And before His ascension, Jesus Christ charged His disciples with the Great Commission: Matt. 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." If, therefore we love God and are concerned to glorify Him, we must obey His command to evangelize.

 

(2)                 The second reason is our love to our neighbor and the desire to see our fellow men and women saved. Paul writes, 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people Gal. 6:10a. And what greater good we can do our fellow men and women than to introduce them to Jesus Christ?

 

 If we ourselves have felt the love of God for us and if we have felt any measure of gratitude that this love have saved us from eternal damnation in hell, then the attitude of compassion and care for the spiritually needy should come naturally and spontaneously to us. It was natural for Andrew, when he found the Messiah to go and call his brother, Simon and for Philip to break the good news to his friend Nathanael. Nobody told them to do it. They did it naturally and spontaneously.

 

It is a great privilege to evangelize; it is a wonderful thing to be able to tell others of the love of Christ, knowing that there is nothing that they need more urgently to know, and no knowledge in the world that can do so much good. We should not be reluctant to evangelize on the personal or individual level. Are we reluctant to tell of God’s love? Ask ourselves why in God’s presence. Is it because we are ashamed of the gospel? Or is it pride? That we would look foolish in the eyes of the world. What matters more? Your reputation or their salvation?

 

What we need to do is to ask for grace to be truly ashamed of ourselves and to pray that we may so overflow in love to God that we shall overflow in love for our fellow men and women, and so find it easy and natural and a joyful thing to share with them the good news of Christ.

 

Do we have the passion that inspired John Knox to cry out, “Give me Scotland or I die”?  Can we pray the prayer of George Whitefield, who prayed “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul”?

 

                                                                                                                                                Soli Deo Gloria

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