1 Timothy 1:18-19 “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck”
When my kids were young my wife and I would take them camping to a large state park in Oregon. We loved going to this place by the sea and joining with her parents for a week of bicycle riding, fishing, and enjoying the beautiful Oregon beach. On this beach, not far from Fort Stevens State Park is an old shipwreck that only adds to the mystic of the place.
The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel barque sailing vessel that ran ashore October 25, 1906, on the Oregon coast en route to the Columbia River. The ship, captained by H. Lawrence, was named after Peter Iredale, who not only owned the vessel as part of his shipping fleet, but was also a well-known figure in Liverpool, England, where his business was headquartered. Having run aground due to a heavy northwest squall, the ship became entrenched in the sand and has remained there ever since. Captain Lawrence’s final toast to his ship was: “May God bless you, and may your bones bleach in the sands.
Just like the Peter Iredale, the storms of life can drive our faith into the sandbar of Satan’s demise or they can propel us into all that God has purposed.
If we allow ourselves to take our eyes off the course by which God has placed us, whether it is because of evil, temptation, or our sinful nature, we become self-serving and our view of others is affected. When our faith is secure in Christ, then no matter what comes our way our ship remains steadfast.
Paul described in the beginning of this letter to Timothy the purpose of God’s commandment—to love.
Love is the key indicator of a man or woman who is walking with God. There are ways by which love either excels or is corrupted. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul lists three characteristics by which love is done well.
- A Pure Heart— A pure heart is one that is separated from this world. It doesn’t mix with the sinful practices that cause defilement, it doesn’t hold onto certain aspects of this world while trying to practice righteousness, it maintains freedom from the contaminating influences of this world’s systems and influences.
- A Good Conscience—A good conscience is one that makes decisions based off the knowledge of God. God’s character and commandments are derived only from Him, when we make God’s priorities our priorities we commit our lives toward these principles and make them our own.
- Sincere Faith—Trust in God that is sincere is one that remains true to God’s Word. It is not hypocritical nor does it have hidden agendas. Faith is ultimately given by God therefore when someone receives this Faith, they remain true to the calling.
If we begin to see our sails tear, our ship begins to take on water, and the storms of life drive us into trouble, we can right the ship if we know how to do it.
1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. “
Guarding our hearts is so important when it comes to maintaining godly integrity. Like a well built ship, if we want to sail well, we must avoid certain hazards of life.
- False Doctrine—This deceptive form of teaching mimic’s truth but reveals a lie. Some intentionally teach falsely to edify themselves, to emphasize a false point, or to lure others down a path that results in bondage. The quickest way to discern truth from error is to hold everything taught against the Word of God. The Word is the very standard by which Truth is established, falsity causes the seams of your ship to lose their integrity when the storms arise.
- Fables—Stories that lead the listener into a misrepresentation of what the scripture intended is another error that brings instability to faith. If your faith is built on someone’s story, the sails by which faith is driven can easily tear and lose the ability for which it was formed. Other times, stories mislead the listener down a path that has nothing to do with the intended purpose of the scripture and the attempt to reconcile truth into practical living becomes very difficult.
- Endless Genealogies—Why do you suppose people wrestled with knowing their lineage in Paul’s day? Pride! As the church progressed into a mixture of jews and gentiles, tracing lineage would show an order of descendants that would allow some to set themselves over others like a pedigree of rank. This focus pulled down the church rather than built it up and the potential for sinking the unity of the faith becomes greater with each error that occurs.
Can you see the pattern of destruction? What begins as false doctrine, fables, and endless genealogies progresses into idle talk and confusion.
I can only imagine the chaos aboard a ship that is about to see it’s demise. The struggle to maintain the integrity of a ship turns into panic as it starts to take on water. The wind continues to press against the vessel and the crew fights tirelessly to keep it afloat—the exhaustion of such an event leaves little in it’s wake.
When people work toward a common goal in unity and purpose, the results are something to behold. When confusion and disunity occurs, the intended hope for a successful journey can be held up by obstacles of trouble.
- Idle talk—Endless genealogies lead to fruitless conversations. The church is weakened when the congregation focuses more on building up one’s own position rather than building up others.
- Confusion—Imagine the myriad of ways that false doctrine infects a congregation. Those who subscribe to this teaching form doctrine that spins it’s way into all forms of bad theology and improper use of God’s laws. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day added a myriad of laws that were never intended by God to be administered. These extra biblical standards became oppressive and troubled those who tried to live by them.
God’s people are all traveling together. The ship we are on is not just our own faith but is founded in the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that is comprised of God’s Holy Church. We are not alone in this journey nor are we meant to travel alone. The way in which we encourage and edify one another has its purpose in glorifying Christ before the world.
From every walk of life, every nation, and tongue the people who are represented in this Kingdom are those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and now walk in the unity of the Spirit.
As God’s people we are called to carry the message of sin and redemption.
Sin is the act of breaking God’s law. Those who are under the law are those who have not been redeemed by Christ. The law makes sin very evident to those who try to justify themselves by their standard of good works.
1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
God’s people do not set themselves as judges over others, they are quite aware of their own weaknesses. The law of the Lord is sufficient to bring an understanding of the need for Jesus’ redeeming grace.
1 Timothy 1:16-17 “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Like Timothy, we are called to wage warfare against all that would wreck the faith of others. We must guard ourselves and hold fast to that which we have been called, knowing that when we walk in Truth, we walk in the Power of God.
There will always be those who try to shipwreck our faith and introduce trouble into our lives and into the church. If we keep our eyes above and go forth in the power of the Spirit and in wisdom, we will not be shipwrecked in our ability to express God’s love and the church will flourish in all that God intended.