************ Sermon on 1 Timothy 2:3-6 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 13, 2016
1 Timothy 2:1-7
1 Timothy 2:6
"Jesus Gave Himself as a Ransom"
I Man's Need for Salvation
A I always stand amazed at what Scripture tells us about life in the Garden of Eden. There, way back at the beginning of human history, man lived with God, glorified God, and fully enjoyed God. Scripture presents a picture of God "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen 3:8) as a normal occurrence.
Just as amazing is the picture Scripture draws of life in the new heaven and new earth. There,
(Rev 21:3) ... the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
I stand amazed at this because of the huge difference between God and man, the divine and human, the supernatural and natural. God is the almighty Creator; man is but one of the works of His hand. God is infinite and eternal; man is but a finite creature bound by space and time. God is so mighty, so glorious, so holy; so I ask how mere man can stand and live in His presence?
We have to remember, though, that man is made in the "image of God," that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Gen 1:26,27; 2:7). Nothing else in all creation has this privilege. On this account, man is no stranger to God's presence and glory.
B In spite of this, Scripture also presents to us a picture of a mankind who dares not live in God's presence, of a mankind who is estranged from God, of a mankind who fears God and hides from God. There is a great separation between man and God.
This yawning chasm between God and man exists because of only one reason: man's fall into sin. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, the human nature was so corrupted that man now produces every sort of sin against God and is consumed by his lusts and desires.
The result is that man cannot and dares not look upon the holy God; and, man no longer wishes to approach God or have communion with Him.
C Yet, this morning ours is the privilege of having communion with God at the Lord's Table. We are invited to eat and drink in the presence of God. How is this possible? On what basis can we sinful, unholy creatures have this blessed fellowship with God?
II God Our Savior
A We have this privilege and opportunity because of "God our Savior" (1 Tim 2:3; cf 1:1; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). That is God's title in verse 3. He is "God our Savior."
Over and over again this theme is sounded forth in Scripture: that God is our Savior. In the Garden, when man first fell into sin, then already God came seeking to save: "Where are you?" He called to Adam (Gen 3:9). He is the God Who saved Noah and his family from the flood. He is the God Who saved His people from slavery in Egypt and from exile in Babylon. He is a Father looking and waiting for a lost son to come home. He is a Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine in order to search for the one lost sheep.
Our God is a saving God. Just as a parent cannot renounce a wayward son or daughter so the Lord cannot abandon His sinful people. Rather, He loves His people, He seeks them out, He wants to save them from their sins. He wants to save them from judgment and eternal death. He wants to give them life.
B God is our Savior. Lots of people misunderstand what follows in verse 4:
(1 Tim 2:3-4) ... God our Savior, (4) who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.Similarly, people also misunderstand "as a ransom for all men" in verse 6. How do they misunderstand? They want to believe these verses teach that God saves everyone.
Paul is not teaching universalism. Paul is not saying God saves all people. As John Calvin comments,
The universal term "all" must always be referred to classes of men, and not to persons; as if he had said, that not only Jews, but Gentiles also, not only persons of humble rank, but princes also ..." God wants to save all kinds of people, not every individual. God desires to save from every race and tribe and language and people. In the same way, according to verse 1, God wants us to pray for "everyone." There is no way anyone of us can pray for every single person. But we can pray for every kind of person: kings, all those in authority, missionaries, persecuted Christians, our neighbors, the people and situations we know.
C Yet, because of sin, people resist "God our Savior." They are so lost in sin, so consumed by their lusts, that they resist God's pursuit. Think of Adam and Eve in the Garden: when God comes seeking they go hiding. That's a picture of each and every one of us. We sinners need salvation but we don't want God's salvation. So we resist and flee and fool ourselves into thinking we don't need saving, or that we can save ourselves, or that other paths can lead us to eternal life. We run from God and hide from "God our Savior."
III The Mediator
A God, then, reaches down for man. And man, he hides or flees from God.
How can the two get together? Who can bridge that chasm, that gulf, between man and God?
The only solution is a Mediator. Listen to what our Bible reading says in verse 5:
(1 Tim 2:5) For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus ...
The Mediator is like a bridge. To be of value a bridge must go all the way from one side of the river or chasm to the other. A bridge that goes only half way is useless.
Jesus is the Mediator Who fully bridges the gap between God and man. He is the one in-between God and man. He is the God-man: being human He represents man before God; being divine He represents God before man. Jesus is the perfect Mediator between a righteous God and a fallen humanity. You might know that one of Job’s complaints had to do with the absence of a Mediator between him and God (Job 9:33). But, unlike Job, we do have a Mediator.
Not only is Jesus the perfect Mediator, He is also the only Mediator. No other person can qualify. No one else is both God and man. No one else is able to mediate between God and man.
B As Mediator, what does Jesus do to bring God and man together? What does He do so that man can again fellowship with God, live with Him, and enjoy Him forever? Jesus, says our text, "gave himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Tim 2:6a).
Jesus gave Himself as a "ransom." We read that word "ransom" in the newspaper or on the internet when someone has been kidnaped.
You might recognize the name "James Foley." In 2014 ISIS decapitated him in retaliation for US airstrikes against the terrorist group in Iraq.If the ransom is not paid, then the captive is usually killed -- as happened with Foley. In return for the payment of the ransom, the captive receives both life and freedom.
Before killing Foley, ISIS asked the US for a multimillion-dollar ransom for his release. But the United States -- unlike several European countries that have funneled millions to the terrorist group to spare the lives of their citizens -- refused to pay.
Because of sin, my brothers and sisters, we are doomed to die eternally unless the ransom is paid. The ransom, the price, paid by Jesus Christ is His blood shed upon the cross. Christ's death is an "exchange price" on behalf of and in the place of those who believe in Him. In our place He went to the cross, suffered its death and shame, and was buried in a grave. Upon the cross Jesus caught all the fury of God against our sin. He gave Himself as a ransom.
The Good News of the Gospel is that since Christ Jesus has given His life as a ransom for those who believe in Him we can again fellowship with God, live with Him, and enjoy Him forever.
Today, ours is the privilege to have communion with God. Today we eat and drink at the Lord's Table. Do you know what this means? It means that we have a taste of the fellowship man once enjoyed with God in the Garden of Eden; and, we have a foretaste of the fellowship that we will enjoy with God in the new heaven and new earth.
Today we have fellowship with God. But this fellowship is ours only because "God our Savior" sent Jesus to die on the cross as a ransom.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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