Intro: I often have difficulty with one particular part of my sermon preparation. It is a struggle for me to choose a title for the sermon. What do you put on the top of the page and on the first slide? Sometimes I just leave it blank, or end up with different titles on the same lesson. But the title for today’s lesson came easily. I titled it Doxological Motivations. I know, I just gave it away, you all know what I ma going to talk about! Or you have an urge to leave.
- 1 Timothy 6:13-16 – I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. ESV
I. “I charge you… ” The word charge here is paraggelia (par-ang-gel-ee’-ah). The NKJV and others translate it as urge, but this word has a stronger meaning that our word urge. Vines says it mean a mandate, command, or a military order. What Paul is telling Timothy is imperative. The mandate is to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach.
A. Most view the term commandment in v. 14 as a reference, not to a specific commandment of God, but to either all the commands (charges) found in this letter, or to the gospel message itself, and Timothy’s responsibility to proclaim it. The adjectives, unstained and free from reproach apply both to the message itself (charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine – 1 Tim 1:3) or to Timothy’s personal conduct as the messenger (wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience – 1 Tim 1:18-19) It was Timothy’s responsibility to keep the message and himself pure.
II. How does Paul motivate Timothy to keep the charge before him? Here is a correlating question. What motivates you to obey God? (“I want to go to heaven; I don’t want to go to heIl; I want to be happy”) I propose that the answer contained in this text is fundamental to everything God asks of us. The why is God Himself.
A. In the four verses of our test (1 Tim. 6:13-16) Paul presents six attributes of God which stand at the heart of why Timothy should keep the charge. (heard the song – “I worship you because of who you are”) Most conclude that the words of v. 15-16 consist of a doxology (short hymn of worship) that was known to Timothy and the Christians at Ephesus. We might notice that this letter contains a similar doxology at the beginning (1:17) after Paul accounts God’s mercy to him. Who God is at the heart of what He is doing, and what He calls us to do.
III. “In the presence of God… and of Jesus Christ…”Is your conduct influenced by who is with you? Who is watching? Paul is adding an emphasis to this charge to be obedient saying that it is given in the presence of God… and Jesus Christ. God is not far away or inattentive to His people. Paul motivates the Athenians to search after God by assuring them “He is not far from each one of us” – (Acts 17:27) The presence of God also implies accountability – He is watching us. Does this motivate you?
IV. “Who Gives Life to All Things…” (6:13) – The power of God is displayed in His unique ability to give life to all things. This can be viewed from 3 different perspectives.
A. He is the Creator of all things. “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Throughout the Scriptures God is called the Creator.
• Isa 40:28 – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
• Eccl 12:1– Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
• Rom 1:25 – who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever
• 1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
B. He sustains all life. The people praise God in Neh 9:6– You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.God is the reason life continues. Acts 17:28- “In Him we live and move and exist.” The Hebrew writer describes Jesus as divine in these words… Heb 1:2-3 – through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power,
C. He raises the dead. The most applicable element of this quality is God’s ability to raise the dead. This divine prerogative constantly appears in the form of spiritual motivation for God’s people, especially in trying circumstances. Abraham faced the most difficult test of faith of his life through a knowledge of God’s ability – Heb 11:17-19 – By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,… 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. Job’s conclusion – Job 19:25-26 – For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, David, Isaiah, Daniel and Hosea all expressed confident faith that God was able to give life to the dead.
V. “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time” (6:14-15) Paul mentions the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly this is meant to urge Timothy to not abandon his charge, even in the face of persecution because Jesus will appear again to judge the world and take His disciples home.
A. In Acts 1:11, the angels told the disciples that “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven. This realization was to be a comfort to the disciples as they faced the rejection of this world.
B. The other motivating and comforting element contained in Paul’s words is the realization that God’s plans cannot be thwarted. He will bring it about at the proper time. Just as Jesus came to the earth the first time, in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4) so His return is according God’s timetable. He is in control and we do not need the fear the cultural or political demise of our own society. He will return at just the right time.
C. The next 4 phrases form a magnificent doxology of the greatness of God. Some view these as descriptive of the God, the Father, others believe Paul is speaking of Christ. Almost identical words are used to describe Jesus in Revelation 19:16. But could Jesus be described as one “whom no one has ever seen or can see?” (1 Tim 6:16) I am confident that these words are appropriate to describe both the Father and the Son, in their divine attributes.
VI. “He who is the blessed” (6:15) – The word blessed is makarios – means “happy,” “content,” or “fulfilled. It is used to describe both men and god Himself. God is blessed in the sense that He is not anxious or frustrated. He is perfectly joyful and satisfied. While not all things please Him (sin), not disturbs Him. He controls everything to His own joyous ends.
A. He can thus provide this same blessedness to those who serve Him. Those who are in Christ abide in His blessedness and peace. The Psalmist wrote, “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Ps 2:12). James assures us that those who obey God are blessed in what they do(James 1:25).
VII. The only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; (6:15) The word that is translated as sovereign (ESV) is also renders as ruler or potentate. The Greek word is dunastes (doo-nas’-tace). This word comes from a word group that means power (authority).
A. God’s power to rule is inherent within Himself. His power is not delegated from another source. There is no one to vie with Him for control of the universe. Isa 43:13 – Indeed before the day was, I am He; And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it?” Isaiah understood that God is uniquely sovereign. He wrote,
“To whom then will you liken Me that I should be his equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isa 40:25-31)
B. Paul amplifies this characteristic with the words… King of kings and Lord of lords. Such titles were given to God in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 10:17; Ps 136:2-3; Dan 2:47).As we mentioned these words are used to describe the Lord Jesus Christ in Rev 17:14 and 19:16. It is possible that Paul was consciously confronting the cult of Emperor worship – the cause of persecution.
C. Understanding the sovereignty of God is one of the most encouraging and comforting doctrines in scripture. It answers the anxiety of life. An understanding of it removes the anxiety from life. It also gives the man of God courage in spiritual duty and willingness to face any danger.
VIII. Who alone possesses immortality (6:16 ) This may as well be a counter to the cult of emperor worship. The Romans imagined that the emperors were immortal. But God alone possess immortality. The word here is athanasia, which means “deathless.” God has an unending quality of life, and is incapable of dying. Jesus said, “The Father has life in Himself” (John 5:26). Moses wrote in Ps 90:2, “Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God”.
IX. Dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. (6:16)– 50 years ago we landed a man on the moon. When do you think we will land a man on the Sun? Don’t think we can do that. Surface of the sun is 10,000 degrees F. It is an unapproachable light. But the light here is not physical. Light in scripture represents both truth and holiness (moral purity). This characteristic of God may be viewed in 2 respects:
A. He is unapproachable because we are sinners, and we cannot draw near to Him apart from propitiation.Psalm 5:4 – For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. God’s holiness is constantly in view in the O.T. It is seen in the priest, tabernacle, the sacrifice, even the social laws of God. The message of holiness is God is transcendent and coming near is through His initiative, not mine. God told Moses…”You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Ex 33:19-20)
• Eph 2:13-16– But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Christ Our Peace 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross,
B. He is unapproachable because we cannot discover His will or character apart from revelation. He is the source of all truth. Martin Luther described God as the “hidden God.” Romans 11:33-36– Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” 35 ‘Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Who can know the mind of God except the Spirit of God?
Conclusion: What motivates you to exercise yourself toward godliness? What encourages you to face the obstacles that you face as a Christian? There are powerful motivations in Paul’s doxology. I will fulfill the charge God has placed before me. Not because of who I am, but because of who He is.
- He is the God who gives life to all things and can resurrect the dead.
- The God will is in full control of the events of my life; who will send Jesus to judge the world at just the right time; He is a consuming fire.
- The God who is never frustrated or disturbed; He is blessed and can bless those who serve Him;
- He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, who cannot die; He has conquered death.
- He is the God whose moral purity makes Him unapproachable yet has made a pathway for me to come near to him through His own sacrifice. He has done that because He loves me.
It is fitting that the doxology ends with a refrain of praise, to Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.