We have previously seen Paul addressing Timothy on a matter that has sadly remained an all too common problem. It is the existence of false teachers in the churches. Through their heretical and unorthodox teachings they produced unhealthy speculation and therefore controversy and division in the church (1:3- 11). And so, in the midst of his positive proclamation of the gospel of Jesus, Paul has to come back to this matter repeatedly, as the gospel of Jesus is constantly undermined, perverted and twisted by these people. Josh Hooker recently took us through the book of Jude and revealed to us a similar pattern there. The matter of false teachers and their twisting of the gospel has been an Achilles heel for the church ever since her earliest years and true gospel preachers had to constantly fight for the truth. For instance, one of the great battles for Christian orthodoxy in the early church was against the very influential teaching of an elder in the Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, a man called Arius (c. AD 250–336). He taught that Christ, the Son of God did not always exist, but that He was created by God the Father at a point in time, and that He is distinct from the Father. The modern version of ancient Arianism is found in the teachings of the Jehovah’s witnesses. The New Testament makes it very clear that that God the Father and Jesus the Son are of the same substance, and each is God of very God. Therefore Paul can speak of God the Father as “God our Saviour” in 1:1, 2:3 and apply the same title to Christ in 1:15. In John 4:42 Jesus is confessed to be the Saviour of the world. He is equal to God.
And so, the next thing that Paul does is in his letter to Timothy is remind us that he himself had been a gospel hater (though admittedly in ignorance) and he establishes the fact of the amazing grace shown to him by this God, this Saviour, and he displays his amazement at the fact that he as a foremost sinner and a former blasphemer, that he should have been saved by God and, more than that, that he should be appointed to His service by way of an apostolic calling. He ends that thought with a doxology… an outburst of praise in v. 17.
And now in v.18 he turns his attention back to Timothy, who has this difficult calling in Ephesus by way of these people who are undermining the apostolic gospel in the church. With the authority that he has received from the Lord Jesus, Paul reminds pastor Timothy of a primary fact in Christian living, namely that he is in a war zone. It is an unavoidable and inevitable reality of our existence as Christian people in this world, and we tend to forget that so very easily. The entire Christian life is a fight and each day we must be reminded of this. John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” reminds us that there is never a time on the road when Christian did not have to have to face one battle or another. We need to be reminded that we are not in basic army training or on manoeuvres practising warfare. We are at war with a real enemy. Satan is called a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8) and Christ and Christians are his hated opposition. We are at war on many fronts . We are fighting against the enemy within as we battle against remaining indwelling sin. We are fighting on many fronts - for our children and families and for the survival of our society, so bullied by evil and perverseness. We are fighting for our country and our world driving back the darkness as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. In his letter to the Ephesian church (6:10-18) he expounds on the nature and the protection and the weapons of our warfare. He reminds us that we need to put on our full armour: the belt of truth; the breastplate of Christ’s imputed righteousness to us; gospel shoes to maintain a steady footing; the shield of faith by which we can deflect the fiery arrows of Satan; the helmet of salvation, protecting our minds from attacks; the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God – the only offensive weapon in the armoury. In this regard also Paul reminds the church that we ought to be praying at all times, keeping alert at all time as and always praying for our Christian brothers and sisters. We must never underestimate the energy and cunning of the enemy. Do we see the Christian life in these terms?
The apostle Paul uses an interesting adjective to describe this fight. It is a “good warfare/fight.” (cf. also 1 Tim 6:12). Why good? Think about it. We have and excellent leader. Our commander is Christ; we have excellent prospects to win this war; we have the best armour; we have abundant supplies and we have the best support: ”The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7) This a battle which those that are the Lord’s cannot lose. So Paul reminds Timothy of these things and in addition to this primary fact he gives him four additional reminders:
1. Timothy, remember your commission from God v.18
1. Timothy, remember your commission from God v.18
"This charge I entrust to you ,Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you.” As Timothy faces this intimidating situation at Ephesus, he needs to be reminded that behind him there is a formidable charge and a formidable authority (see also 4:14) which came about by a prophetic laying on of hands. We are not quite certain how these prophecies were made about Timothy, but the whole event sounds just like an ordination service. A body of the elders of the church with the help of the Spirit confirmed that they saw a spiritual gift (pastoring , preaching) in Timothy.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) was subject to a most remarkable and striking prophecy. He was still a child when his grandfather brought to the church a former missionary by the name of Richard Knill for special meetings. Knill had spent many years in India and in Russia and was at that time serving in England. He was impressed by young Charles, quickly recognizing his unusual mental ability and his rare clarity of speech. Charles read the Scriptures every day, and reporting of this experience, Knill said: ”I have old ministers and young ones read well, but never did I hear a little by read so correctly before.” When it was time to leave the family stood around and Richard Knill took young Charles on his knee and made the pronouncement: “This child will one day preach the gospel, and will preach it to great multitudes, and I am persuaded he will preach in the chapel of Rowland Hill”. Rowland Hill’s chapel (Surrey Chapel) was one of the largest in England at that time, and in later years Spurgeon did preach there.
Spurgeon himself testifies: “He spoke very solemnly, and called upon all to witness what he said. Then he gave me six pence as a reward if I would learn the hymn: ‘God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” I was made to promise, that when I preached in Rowland Hill’s chapel, that hymn should be sung. … Would it ever be an idle dream? Years flew by. After I had begun for some little time to preach in London, Dr Alexander Fletcher was engaged to deliver the annual sermon to the children in Surrey Chapel, but as he was taken ill, I was asked in a hurry to preach to the children in his stead. ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘I will’, if you will allow the children to sing ‘God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.’ I have made a promise long ago that that hymn should be sung when I preached there. And so it was. I preached in Rowland Hill’s chapel, and the hymn was sung. My emotions on that occasion I cannot describe, for the word of the Lord’s servant was fulfilled.”
If Timothy was like most pastors I know, then he would have struggled at times with a sense of weakness and inadequacy, particularly as he surveyed the challenging situation at Ephesus. The temptation is always to shrink back in the face of adversity, and therefore at such a time it is necessary to know the solid foundation of one’s calling and commission. I can certainly testify to this. It helps to persevere in difficult ministry situations when you have such great assurances behind you.
2. Timothy, hold on to Faith. v. 19
Faith in the Bible is both, a gift of God and a duty of the believer. Here Paul speaks not of the gift, but of the human faith response. Paul is talking about Timothy’s personal act of believing in the Lord. Paul is concerned that Timothy’s faith might cease to control his life. We know from 2 Tim. 1:5ff that he had a sincere faith, but that he was also subject to a timid personality. We all have times where we feel our faith to be weak, and this is where we need the help and encouragement of other believers, but in the end we must not live on the faith of others but exercise our own faith in God , and especially so when we are faced with challenges. I have often reminded you that when the storm comes , God’s children run home and not away from Him. Where are you today? I have known too many people who at one time professed faith in God, but then they got involved in their careers, and began to prosper, but at a great cost to their faith in God. They wanted to maintain a high standard of living, and they became so busy that Sunday was their only free day. So they started skipping on the discipline of regular worship, and their daily devotions, and gradually they let go of their faith, and today they are nowhere. The world is full of people who have fallen in the fight of faith because they didn’t hold on. Do not think that this cannot happen to you when it has happened to people that were apparently more advanced in the faith than you. Are you keeping the faith? “Hold on to faith,” says Paul. There is no hope of winning the battle without that. In a moment we shall see what happens to people who forsake the faith.
3. Timothy, hold on to a Good Conscience. v.19
The conscience instructed by God’s Word and applied by the Holy Spirit is God’s preacher to our hearts. The conscience reminds us of what is right and what is wrong. It can be suppressed (Rom. 1:18ff) Are we being obedient to God’s Word or are we deliberately and willfully disobeying God’s requirements, suppressing our consciences? Paul is urging Timothy to be conscientious at all times, and particularly at this time in Ephesus when he needs to stand his ground against formidable spiritual opposition. A great temptation for any pastor -preacher is to compromise the Word of God and the voice of God under pressure,by suppressing their consciences concerning the truth as it is in Jesus. Wanting to be known as the nice guy, the approachable pastor, they are tempted to change the gospel message to endear themselves to the carnal soul. Paul says, “Timothy, no matter what people say in the church, no matter the power of the enemy, hold on to a good conscience!” We cannot afford to neglect the voice of conscience.
4. Timothy, remember those that have made a shipwreck of their faith : vv.19 and 20
“Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” We don’t need a complicated psychological explanation as to the reason for the fall of these men. They didn’t do the basics. They did not cling to Christ and they did not keep a good conscience. The result was a spiritual shipwreck. They have ignored spiritual basics. You cannot only do that at the risk of making shipwreck, like the many ships stranded on the skeleton coast whose captains had ignored navigational principles.
God has given us a word and we are to hold on to it with faith and a good conscience. Without it we will make shipwrecks of our lives. We do not know what exactly brought about the fall of Hymenaeus and Alexander, but we do know that somewhere along the line they had let go of their faith and conscience. Thus Paul writes, “I have handed them over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (v.20). Hymenaeus and Alexander had discredited the faith in Christ a very fundamental way, and so they needed to be handed over (see also I Cor.5:3-5). They needed to be disciplined. They were handed over to Satan. They were told to leave the safety and embrace of church of Jesus which they had despised. To suspend anyone from Christian fellowship is the last resort in church discipline. It is not finally closing the door on them. As soon as they give up their rebellious ways and repent they may return to the church and be received in the same way in which the father received his prodigal son. But they cannot be in fellowship if faith is denied either in word or deed and when the conscience is suppressed.
What have we learned from this text?
1 . Christian life means being continuously at war with Satan.
2 . In times of spiritual challenge remember your calling, your testimony of salvation, your
3 . Hold on to faith in Jesus.
4 . Hold on to your conscience instructed by the Word of God.
5 . Let those who have made shipwreck of their faith be a warning to you.
 1 Tim. 6:3ff ; 20 ; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:1-9; 13 ; 4:1ff
 Gr. homousios
 Otherwise also know as the devil (Grk : ‘diabolos’ . This term is used only in the N.T. – Matt. 4:1 ; 13: 39; 25 :41 ; Rev. 12:9; 20:2) ; The serpent ( Gen. 3:1,14 ; 2 Cor. 11:3 ; Rev. 12:9 ; 20:2);Beelzebub (Matt. 10:25; 12:24,27 ; Lk. 11:15); Ruler of this world (Jn. 12:31 ; 14:30 ; 16:11) ; Prince /ruler of the kingdom of the air (Eph. 2:2) ; The evil one ( Matt. 13:19; 1 Jn 2 :13)
 John Stott :The Message of Timothy & Titus , p. 56
 Arnold Dallimore’s biography on Spurgeon , p.