Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 6 Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain

The secret of the truly rich is revealed here - Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain - Now and in the Future of Heaven (1 Tim 6:6, 19).

Q1 How is the relationship between boss and subordinates?
(This part 1 Tim 6:1-2 is better to be related to the relationship issue of Chapter 5 Relationship between Boss and Employee is one of many relationships(husband-wife, parent-child, brothers and sisters and friends) that we shall have in life.).

Paul tells us, as employees, to honor our bosses. This is to make sure that we do not bring shame to the name of our God and the teaching of our faith. For Chinese, when we encounter misbehaving children, we say those children are without proper home education, meaning that the parents are not teaching their children well. The parents bear the blame. Similarly, believers must perform well in their job so as to bring honor to our God and Faith.

When our bosses are believers too, Paul warns us not to be disrespectful  because they are our brothers/sisters ( the chances of similarity breads condemns is high). Rather, because they are our brothers and sisters, we should do even more for them. On top of that, all working together, believing bosses and employees, will make for a better and greater influence to the world.

Q2 Who are the ones stirring up troubles? What do they do? (1Tim 6:3-5)

The ones giving and stirring up troubles are those who disagree with the sound doctrine of Christ and teaching a different doctrines. They are proud and unteachable. They hold on to their own thinking and stir up quarrels. They are not interested in doing the right things but only like to engage in discussions to show how clever they are. They like to be different to show they are cool and wiser than others. They produces envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions and friction among people because of their different views. If you have a few of them, there will indeed be lots of different and conflicting views and endless quarrels. Some of them will even use the Faith to mislead believers and create wealth for themselves (1 Tim 6:5) resulting in Paul warning about the Greed for Money (v10) see Q4.

Compare Godliness & contentment IS great gains vs
             Godliness and contentment is the Means to great gain.
(for details, see Our Colored Eyes - 1 Tim 6:6 Godliness and Wealth )

Q3 What are for great gains?

Godliness with Contentment is great gain. Contentment alone is not. There is the goal of Godliness. Godliness alone is not enough as v5 tells us that some uses Godliness for their own personal gains as we can see that happening in the fall of some famous tele-evengelists.

Or perhaps, we must define true godliness to include contentment.

Paul gives an example of contentment - as long as we have food and clothing, basic subsistence living, we should be content. We should not pursue wealth alone as we bring nothing here and shall bring nothing back into the next world.

In v19, Paul tell us to invest, or bring things into the next world, and that is by giving our richness away in good works, generosity and sharing. It brings two benefits, foundation for future (in this present life and in the future heavenly life as taught by Jesus Mat 6:20) and to truly live a meaningful life here.
Richness is defined not in what we possess but in what we give out to bless others! See Q6.

Godliness is about fleeing greed and pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, and fighting the good fight of faith, and living out the eternal life that we have inside of us. (Compare this list with the Fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23 and the Great Mystery of Christ in Us in Col 1:26-27 ). 

Godliness with contentment is being satisfied with God had provided for us in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have all that is needed for life and I shall have no more want (Ps 23:1). We do not seek things outside of Christ and stay within Biblical practices. The purpose of man is to know God and glorify God. John Piper said that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.

Q4 What brings destruction? 1 Tim 6:9-10

1Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils.
Those who seek after money alone will fall into temptation, snare, senseless and harmful desires and do illegal and unethical things (e.g. taking short cuts, committing offenses, bringing harm to oneself and families and even friends etc), and be pierced with many pains and eventually into ruin and destruction! Two short verses but full of the bad consequences of the greed for money. We are to take heed of such warnings. Remember godliness with contentment is great gain in life and life is more than just money. Life is of relationships, peace, joy, health and be content with some comforts in life.

Q5 What are believers to do in the meantime until the 2nd Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?
We are to keep the commandments, living them out,  of our Lord Jesus Christ. As an encouragement and a focus, Paul reminds us who Jesus Christ is and how worthy it is to be called and do serve with Him. He is the blessed and ONLY Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who ALONE has immortality, the glorious light so powerful that none has ever seen ( imagining trying to see the sun and we will be blinded and Christ light is infinitely brighter than the sun). What honor it is to serve Him. When we are discouraged and feel like giving out, remember who is the Lord that you serve. Go to Him and think about Him. You will find that He is beside you and bidding you to come an rest on Him and let Him, His grace, comfort and giving you power to live through you.

Q6 How should the rich behave? How rich is rich?
The rich in this present time (may not be in the future or in heaven depending on how you use your richness)
  1. should not be haughty. It is easy for the rich to show off, to demand attention, to demand service, as their lifestyle is usually about being served rather than to serve. 
  2. should not trust in the wealth that one has. Wealth is most uncertain. The 2008 Financial Crisis, the fall of Lehman Brothers, tells us that clearly. 
  3. to trust GOD who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
  4. to be truly rich by doing good works, be generous and in sharing with others.
  5. The benefits are
    1. protection for the future -- storing up treasure as good foundation
    2. take hold, live out, that which is truly life.
Final reminder (6:20-21):
  1. make good use of our God given talents.
  2. avoid the different for different sakes irreverent to true life babbles disguised as knowledge.
  3. be full of grace (Godliness with contentment!)
We have come to the end of our study on 1Timothy.
I prayed that your life have been enriched by this study.

Lim Liat copyrighted 18 Aug 2011

See also: 
 Our Colored Eyes - 1 Tim 6:6 Godliness and Wealth 
 Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 5 Relating to Others

This chapter 5 teaches us about how to relate to others and how to care for those in needs using a widow as an example. There are the questions to lead you into a deeper study of the chapter.

Q1 How do we relate to others by their age and gender?
By gender and age, we get four combinations (1Tim 5:1):
  1. Older Man as Father.
  2. Younger Man as Brother.
  3. Older Woman as Mother.
  4. Younger Woman as Sister.
But there is an interesting extra added by Paul  - "Do not rebuke but encourage him as you would a father". This means that while we are to honor our fathers, our fathers may not be always right. We have the responsibility to encourage and lead our fathers to the right ways in those area where they are wrong. Correction must be done rightly and with respect is what Paul is emphasizing. Honoring does not mean not correcting. This is similar to the teaching of the Ancient Chinese Book of Filial Piety. See Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing) in One Minute point 3 of the Key Differences.

Q2 How do we help those that are widows?

Paul listed the criteria first before helping them. They are:
  1. By age: not less than 60 years old (v9). Younger widows are encouraged to get marry again have have family (v14). Idling widows are tempted to be busybodies and gossipers which are no good(v13). See v6 self-indulgent is dead even while she lives!
  2. Good Character: 
    1. wife of one husband
    2. shown good works of bringing up children, hospitality, washing, caring for the afflicted, devoted to good work (v10).
  3. No Relatives to care for them.
    1. The principle taught here is that their own family should take care of their members need. v4,16 tells us that her children or grand-children or relatives to care for her.
    2. The church may care for those without relatives to support them v16.
Q3 What principles can we derive and apply to those with needs?
  1. Verify the reality of the Need.
    Can he/she work and be able to care for himself or herself. Helping someone such that he/she become idle is actually bad for him/her and burden the church. An idle fellow will be a busybody and a gossiper creating trouble.
  2. Can He/She be helped by his/her close family members or relatives?
    The family should help their member first before the church come in to help.
  3. Age and Character.
    Age help one to determine the ability to be self-supportive.
    Character help ensure that the Church is not helping someone to be self-indulgent. The helping should result in a better person physically and spiritually.
  4. If the 'things of the common' not protected then they are usually exploited and destroyed. Consider the garbage left in parks and other recreation areas, especially after an event. Consider the debts of many countries like US and the European countries.
Q4 How should we treat our elders/leaders/pastors?
  1. Give them the honor and respect v17 especially those in preaching and teaching.
  2. Pay them well v18.
  3. Do not charge them unless there are evidence of two or three witnesses v19. This show that our leaders are not without fault. However, any such accusations must be supported with evidences from true witnesses.
Q5 How do we have discipline in Church?
  1. There must be Right Teachings first so that people can know what are the right things to believe and follow (v7). The right expectation and the consequences for violations must be clearly taught.
  2. Fair Judgment. There should be no partiality. Everything should be done properly under the presence of God v21.
  3. For those unrepentant, there must be publicity to warn others as well v20. Some consequences of some sins are open for all to see and some are only found out later v24.
Q6 How should we live?
This is a question of reflection adn application. From what we have learned, can we check whether we and our church are following the teachings above? Following them will help you to have a healthy church.

Lim Liat copyrighted 13 Aug 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 4 End Times Deception and Godliness

Watch out for the deceptive doctrines of abstinence at end times and how to pursue godliness that is of greater value in every way.

Q1 What will be happening in Later Times? Give some details.

1Tim 4:1-3 tells us that in the later times, SOME will depart from the faith because they were deceived by demons.

Departing from the faith means also that they were once of the faith. But because they indulge themselves in myths (1:4, 4:7) and endless genealogies (1:4) and misuse of the laws (1:8-9) they were deceived by the demons.
In trying to be godly and holy, they went to the extremes of abstaining from things.

Paul pointed out two such erroneous teachings:
  1. forbidding marriage
  2. abstinence from foods
Paul also gave the reasons why such abstinence were wrong.
  1. 1Tim 4:4 Everything created by God is good and it to be received with thanksgiving.
  2. Everything can made holy by the word of God and prayer and with thanksgiving if we still have doubts about any of them. (1Tim 4:5).
Godliness does not come just by abstaining foods or marriage. Going a bit further, even sinlessness does not mean Godliness. A table or chair is sinless. A dead person that could do no sin is not godly. Godliness is a positive thing of value which we shall cover in the next question.

(Note: as pointed in Chapter 1, we tend to err on two extremes, legalism & abstinence covered here, and the other of Antinomianism- grace covers all our sins and we are therefore free to sin! This 2nd part is well covered in 1&2Peter and Jude)

Q2 What are 'these things' that Paul admonished Timothy to do?
In one word, it is 'Godliness' or more specifically, training in godliness.

Benefits of Godliness
  1. of value in every way - for now and for the life to come.
    Physical training benefits a little but godliness is much more. We spend time to train our body for health, what about spending time for our training in godliness?
  2. 1Tim 6:6 Godliness with contentment is great gains. See 1 Tim 6:6 Godliness.
The Practice:
  1. Not abstaining from things but pursuing godliness.
  2. Learn and practice the word of faith, the good doctrine thought 4:8
  3. Have nothing to do with irrevent and silly myths.
  4. Be the examples for believers to follow (4:12) in boldness (not despised), in speech, conduct, love, faith, purity.
  5. Public reading, teaching and exhortation of the Bible.v13
  6. Make good use of our God given gifts v14.
  7. Monitor and reflect on our progress - our behavior and the progress in the list of things listed above. v16
Q3 What are the things that are applicable to you? How will you put them into practice?

This is an application question (point 7 above).  Pick up one or two things that are of concern to you and work out an action plan. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you if it is not obvious. Holy Spirit 'talks' to us all the time even when we are not aware. He is in us.

Review this periodically to see if you have attained the plan and move on to others.

Lim Liat Copyrighted 3 Aug 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bible Study 1 Timothy 3 Roles in A Church

Are you a good leader in the Church and how can you tell? If not, are you a good server in Church and how can you tell?If not, what is church anyway and who is this Jesus?
Q1  What are the main roles in a church? What are differences from Ephesians 4:11 five fold ministries?
There are two main leadership roles covered in this chapter. They are:
  1. Overseers/Bishops/Elders - Overseeing Leadership - Mission, Vision, Values, Strategies, Doctrines, Judges etc. Ensuring things are done according to God's will and methods.
  2. Deacons/Servers/Operations - Execution and Operational Leadership. Ensuring smooth operations and working of the church.
However, it does not mean that God only speak through the Overseers and the Deacons are mere followers. Everyone has the Holy Spirit and is guided by the Holy Spirit. God speak through everyone. Overseers have the facilitating roles and guardian roles. Their roles are made clearer in the following question about the qualities or requirements needed. Paul in Eph 4 pointed out clearly that all roles are to be submitting to one another and not one dominating over another. Jesus Christ teaches us about servant leadership and he who is first must be the servant of all. The leaders' interests must the growth and maturity of his members into the image of Christ and not for personal glory or gains as discussed in the next question.
Eph 4:11  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
Here we have the five fold ministries, comparable to the present organizational functional roles of CEOs, Corporate Planning, Marketing/Business Development, Human Resources and Training Managers. These are the domain or area of expertise. Withing each domain, we can still have the broadly two levels of Overseer and Deacons.

Let me also add that the eternal rewards given to us is not about the 'ranking' of the roles we play but more importantly our faithfulness to the roles. The stewards with the ten talents and and the five talents are proportionally rewarded. Jobs are not divided into spiritual and secular. It is the way we do the jobs that differentiate it as spiritual or secular. See  Secular vs Spiritual Jobs.

Q2 What are the requirements for the roles? What and why for the differences?

Here is the table that show the requirements for the two leadership roles:

We can see that the demands on the Overseers are higher than those for the Deacons. The asterisks highlight the extra requirements for being Overseers. Overseers are to care for others. Deacons are to make sure they manage themselves and their households well. Here are the highlights:

  1. Internally, within the church, he must be someone above reproach. Externally, to outsiders, he must have good reputation (well thought of by outsiders).
  2. Self-controlled - being is a position where people are watching, the examples shown by the Overseers influence many. They must exercise extreme care not to show the wrong examples.
  3. Hospitable - Overseers are to welcome and care for many people, the new members and visitors.
  4. Able to Teach and to lead is implied. Deacons only need to be faithful.
  5. Not violent but gentle. Being in a high position, our flesh of pride may get the better of us and we may throw our weight around. Hence, Paul has this extra warning. Power has the ability to corrupts one character!
The Common Requirements for Leadership in Church
  1. One wife.... faithful to her.
  2. Sober-minded - Clear, fair, righteous, knowing God's will.
  3. Respectable & Dignified. Take care of how we behave.
  4. Faithfulness and Faithful to the Truth - a clear conscience. Living out the truth and not just talk about it.
  5. Not quarrelsome, and not double-tongued to incite divisions and quarrels.
  6. Not a lover of money and not greedy for dishonest gain. It is tempting and easy to make use of the highly regarded position of leadership in church for personal gains and glory. How often we find people being misused and abused by the leadership in church in the name of God and threatening with verses like "touch not God's anointed"?
  7. Not a recent convert even though he may be holding senior positions outside of church. He must be tested and proven faithful to the truth. The worst case is a smart person with a bad character.
  8. Managing the household well. Not getting into financial debts and other troubles on his household.
  9. A wife that is dignified, not slanderers (gossiping), sober-minded as her husband and faithful.
  10. Children that are dignified and obedient (vs rebellious).
Q3 What was the purpose of this letter? What is a Church?
Paul reiterated the purpose of his letter in v3:15 - 'how one ought to behave in the household of God.  More interesting is the definition of the Church. It is the household of God, a pillar and buttress of truth. The believers must live out the truth.

Q4 What is the Mystery of Godliness?
The Bible uses the word 'Mystery' not as something you don't understand but is actually the opposite. A mystery is a hidden truth in the past now make known.
The mystery of Godliness is now made known, revealed, in Jesus Christ the man in the flesh, vindicated by the Holy Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on the world and taken up in glory.
Simply, Jesus Christ is Son of God whom we bear witness. He who receives and believes in Him is saved. (Son represents Jesus God, coming as a man into this world)

Lim Liat copyrighted 2 Aug 2011