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Jesus Christ is the Lord of Our Salvation: 1 Timothy 1:1-2

 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, our hope, to Timothy, my genuine child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Timothy 1:1-2

If there has ever been a time when the American church stood in need of a course correction, it is now. The Southern Baptist Convention’s recent inability to reject critical race theory is a disturbing example. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s response to the abortion abolition resolution of 2021 is another.

Denominations go this way not because of denominational heads, presidents, or executive committees, but because of the preaching ministry of the local churches. The churches are accountable before God to correct their own courses by the teaching of God’s Word.

In 1 Timothy 1:1-2, the Apostle Paul opens his letter with a reminder that Jesus Christ is the Lord of our salvation. This is a blessed reminder for any man of God committed to pastoral ministry. There are two lessons to consider in this greeting, and these lessons have the power to change a pastor, to change a church, and even to change the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Commandment

In 1 Timothy 1:1-2, as the Apostle explains his own call to ministry, he gives us all a solid foundation upon which to build a Christian life. Paul did not enter into ministry because he needed to pay off his seminary loan. He entered into ministry on the foundation stone of “the commandment of God our Savior,” (1 Tim. 1:1). He is an Apostle on this basis. Paul had no options. His Savior God commanded him, and he was sent in this calling.

Am I allowed to refer to a “call” to ministry? Paul was separated unto ministry at the church of Antioch by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:1-3). Does God still work this way? Did your church affirm the call of God you experienced privately (Acts 26:14-18) or are you a self-appointed preacher? Uzziah appointed himself a priest and was made a leper by the living God (2 Chron. 26:16-21).

If you have the calling of the local church for your ministry, you can have the confidence of God’s call. If not, find something else to do in service to the church.

The Gospel

Paul was also commanded by “Christ Jesus, our hope,” (1 Tim. 1:1). The bundling of “God our Savior” and “Christ Jesus” reveals that Jesus is God. Our text also gives the second foundation stone. We have a commanded ministry that is rooted in The Gospel.

It seems unusual that God is referred to as Savior here. We generally think of Jesus as Savior (Luke 2:11). By referring to God as Savior, Paul is making a statement to the gnostics of his day who held that salvation was only available to certain nations. As Colin Brown says, “The statements in the Pastorals about God as Savior show that God’s offer of salvation is universal.” By attributing “Savior” to God, the Apostle communicates that the Creator saves from all mankind and not merely the Jewish people. Jesus is Jewish, yet He is not only a Savior for Jews, but He came to save all men (1 Tim. 2:3-4).

Our God is a missionary God: “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to cause the preserved ones of Israel to return; I will also give You as a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). Elsewhere the Scriptures say that “Salvation belongs to Yahweh” (Jonah 2:9). God saves. It is no surprise that this missionary God sent Paul as a missionary for the nations. He is “God our Savior.”

Pastor, do you have this mindset? This same God commanded you and has sent you. What are you doing to reach the nations? Are you too insular to be bothered with the lost in other nations or with immigrants from other nations who live in your community? The life of Paul was laser-focused on this mission.

The hope of the nations is Jesus Christ. “Hope” is defined in English as “a confident expectation that a desire will be fulfilled.” Colin Brown notes that the Christian hope, “does not rest on good works but on the gracious work of God in Christ Jesus,” meaning that Jesus is “therefore called ‘our hope.’” Paul says that “Christ in you” is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

We do not preach a works-based gospel. We preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). Our hope is not that we are more ethical or moral than others. Our hope is Christ alone. We must preach Him in all His matchless glory and His works on behalf of wicked men. Preaching with the goal of making wicked men nicer is a false hope. They need new life first; only after they are born again will morality follow.

Relationships

In 1 Tim. 1:2 we find that Christianity is a call to relationship. Here we learn that there are new relationships with God the Father, Christ Jesus, and within the local church.

Many artifacts of Western literature and film seem to be based on poor relationships between fathers and children. The Slap Happy Larry blog lists 23 Father Tropes in Fiction. Many characters do not have great relationships with their fathers, and people in our culture can relate.

Yet the Biblical terminology of God as “Father” describes the relationship of the covenant people with God. He created Israel, delivered them from Egypt, and provided for them as a Father (Deut. 1:31). The true Israel is told: “‘And they will be Mine’, says Yahweh of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’” (Mal. 3:17). Your earthly father may have failed you, but God will never fail you.

There is likewise a relationship to Jesus. This relationship is not the sugar-and-spice version, complete with long hair and a lamb draped across the shoulders. The relationship we have with Him is as a slave to a master since He is Lord. As Lord, He is God (Rom. 10:9-10). As Lord, He is Master (Luke 6:46). His Deity is not at odds with His authority as Master, contrary to the teachings of those in the Free Grace camp. His Deity only strengthens His authority.

This relationship with Jesus, our Divine Master, transforms everything. The martyr Polycarp in his letter to the Philippians wrote, “Bind up your loose robes and serve as God’s slaves in reverential fear and truth … Everything in heaven and on earth is subject to Him; everything that breathes will serve Him; He is coming as a judge of the living and the dead; and God will hold those who disobey Him accountable for His blood.”

We have no options. He owns us (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We owe Him a life of radical obedience.

We meanwhile see the relationship that Paul had with Timothy within the context of the local church. “To Timothy, my genuine child in the faith…” (1 Tim 1:2). Titus had a similar relationship with Paul (Titus 1:4). Paul knew Timothy well enough to be familiar with his genuine character. He poured out pastoral instruction in 1 Timothy and left the young pastor his final words in 2 Timothy. Both Timothy and Titus were helpers in The Gospel for the sake of local churches.

A genuine relationship with God results in meaningful relationships in the local church, complete with disciples, the fruit that attends such relationships. These are followers of Jesus who reflect the Gospel traits of 1 Timothy 1:1-2.

For further reading
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ by John MacArthur
Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
Church Planting is for Wimps by Mike McKinley
Jon Speed

Jon Speed

Jon Speed is married to Kim and they have five children and two grandchildren. He is the Pastor of Missions and Evangelism at By the Word Baptist Church in Azle, TX. Speed is the author of Evangelism in the New Testament and co-produced Babies Are Murdered Here (2014) and Babies Are STILL Murdered Here (2019). He planted Christ is King Baptist Church in Syracuse, NY (2011-2019) and is a co-founder of Loor.tv.

March 1, 2024

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