Sermon on 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Text: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the 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 true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
Did you ever have trouble figuring out exactly what someone wanted? You think you’re doing the right thing, that this or that would make them happy, and you find out it wasn’t what they wanted at all. It could have been a boss or a teacher or someone else you were trying to please. You couldn’t figure out just what they wanted. How thankful we are that God is not that way. He makes it very clear throughout the Bible what he wants and what he doesn’t want. Today in our text, we are told something that God wants. GOD WANTS EVERYONE TO BE SAVED. Since this is true, let us 1. Pray For It and 2. Proclaim It.
Paul wrote this epistle to his co-worker Timothy to look to God as the source of his strength. In this portion of his epistle, Paul wanted to teach Timothy about proper practices in regard to public prayer. First of all, Paul makes some general comments about prayer.
We read in verse 1, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.” Paul gives us a good opportunity to scan our prayer lives. Paul speaks of “petitions.” Petitions are requests. We’ve all, I’m quite sure, got that one down. We pray to God when we need something. This is good and proper for us to do. God himself tells us, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” (Psalm 50:15) Yet, sometimes our requests to God are only made as a last resort. ‘I’ve tried everything else. Now it’s time to go to God for help.’ Or, perhaps when we pray, we feel as though nothing really is going to happen. God tells us in the book of James (4:2), “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Let us be mindful of the requests we make and the manner in which we make them.
Paul also speaks of “intercession.” This means that we pray on behalf of someone else. We may be very good at praying for our own needs. However, do we bring the needs of others before our loving God? We get so wrapped up in our own cause and concerns that we forget about others. Paul also mentions “thanksgiving.” All too often we are like spoiled children when it comes to God. We pray for something, and God gives it to us. Then, we walk away without even giving it a second thought. Thanksgiving, for the Christian, comes more than just the last Thursday in November. It is a constant state of the Christian’s life, especially considering what God has done for us. We also want to be thankful when God says “no” to our requests, because we know that he has our best interests in mind.
Paul says that prayers are to be “made for all people.” He goes on to say that these prayers are to be made for “kings and all those in authority.” (Verse 2) We are to pray for those who govern our country. But, what if we don’t like their political stands on things? What if they do things I don’t agree with? You are still to keep them in your prayers. Remember that the king at this time who was in control of the Roman Empire was a man by the name of Nero. Nero was the first Roman emperor to have an organized persecution against Christians. Many Christians lost their lives at this time. Yet, Paul said that the people of his day were to pray for him. This is also true for us, today. He gives us the reason why: “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (Verse 2) We pray for God’s agents in society so that we might live God’s way in society. This means praying that God would guide and guard these people so that we might have a society where we can live as Christians. We pray that God would guide these men so that we might freely worship our God in peace and quiet. We pray that God would open the minds of rulers around the world so that they would open their lands to the message of the Gospel. May we not run down our government or its leaders, but rather pray for them. As Paul says, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” (Verse 3) Such prayers are pleasing to God.
Paul goes on to describe God as one “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (Verse 4) This is a beautiful picture of our God. His purpose is to save, not to judge. God takes no pleasure in the death of someone that leads to eternal punishment in hell. God wants all people to be saved. That is his universal will. The way to this salvation is spoken of when it says, “to come to a knowledge of the truth.” The saving truth of the Gospel must be accepted if God’s will is to be done and all mankind is to be saved.
Does this mean that, on the Last Day, all mankind will be saved? We know that this is not the case. We have seen pictures in the Scriptures that all too clearly show a separation with some going to heaven and some going to hell. How can that be? Was there something wrong with God’s plan of salvation?
The answer, of course, is “No.” God provided a Savior. Paul speaks of him in verse 5, “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” We needed someone to bridge the gap between God and us that had been caused by sin. We were on our side, lost and condemned to hell because of our sins, and didn’t really care to change it. But, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Mediator. A mediator is someone who brings together two disputing parties. Sometimes you hear about mediators being brought in when there is a strike. They try to get the employers and employees together. Jesus served as our Mediator by bringing peace between God and mankind.
Paul even mentions how this Mediator brought us peace. In verse 6 he speaks of Jesus, “who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” Paul uses the picture of ransom. We are all familiar with the idea of ransom. Someone is being held captive, and a price is demanded before that person is set free. That is exactly the position that you and I, indeed the entire world, found itself in. We were being held captive in our sins. Jesus set us free by giving the ransom that was needed, and that ransom was “himself.” Jesus gave himself so that you and I might be set free. He gave his life. He lived a perfect, sinless life in our place. He, then, sacrificed that life on the cross to pay for our sins. When he rose from the dead, he announced to the world that sin’s power had been broken. We have been set free. We have been bought back, ransomed. That is what we mean when we speak of “redemption.” Jesus redeemed us from sin, death, and the power of the devil.
So, we see that there is nothing wrong with God’s plan of salvation. He sent his Son, Jesus, to bring salvation to all people. When Jesus died, he paid for the sins of all people. The fault doesn’t lie with God, but with those who reject him. Remember that Paul spoke of “one mediator . . . Christ Jesus.” The trouble is that those who are lost are looking for others to be their mediator. We might think of the Buddhist, Hindi, Muslim, Mormon or Jehovah’s Witnesses, to name a few. However, there are also others who believe in Jesus, but also add good works to the mix as to how you are saved. There are those who reject Jesus and all religion as mythology. There are also those who have never heard about Jesus. These people will be lost, because they do not believe in the one Mediator, Jesus Christ.
We thank our God that he has brought us to faith in Jesus. We know that it was none of our doing, but the grace of God that we are saved. We, too, deserved eternal punishment, but God gives us peace through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Paul said, “For this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle.” He was appointed as a herald, one who goes out with news, so that others might know of the saving love that God has shown to mankind. Paul writes that God wants all people to be saved, and he went around telling others about it. God wants the people of today to be saved, as well. May God also move us to be heralds of the good news about Jesus Christ. This doesn’t always mean going door to door. We can share the love of Jesus with the unchurched relative, friend, or neighbor. It is our prayer that the Holy Spirit would work through those words so that these people might know the love of Jesus, too; that they might believe in the one mediator, Jesus Christ. God wants all people to be saved. May the love of the Lord Jesus motivate us to proclaim that wonderful message to others.
Did someone ever ask you a question that you knew whatever answer you gave would be the wrong one? We are so thankful that this is not the case with God. God is clear with us when it comes to what he wants. He wants all people to be saved. We pray that his Gospel would be spread throughout the world and that many would hear and believe it. May we not only pray for it, but also proclaim it. Amen.
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