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“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
The way of salvation is taught by godly people; but the Spirit of God must make the dead individual alive in Christ.
We cannot be educated into the Kingdom of God; however, we can witness the Faith lived out in the daily lives of righteous individuals.
Witnessing such righteous lives, the Spirit of God can create the desire to come to life in Christ.
A child raised in the presence of godly parents will not easily run from the Faith as that child matures.
Paul has written, “[If] any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.
If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.
Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” [1 CORINTHIANS 7:12-14].
Paul is not suggesting, as some have erroneously argued, that children of Christian parents are saved because of their parents.
Rather, he is stating that children raised in a Christian home have a significant advantage in the matter of coming to faith; they are raised in the presence of a righteous individual, witnessing the impact of the Faith on that parent or those parents.
This is a significant advantage, even if it is ignored in contemporary Christian life.
For the benefit of our families, to encourage those who have influence over children or grandchildren, I present this message in hopes of making our family life stronger.
My purpose is to encourage godly homes in which our youth come to faith in the Risen Saviour early in life.
*PROVIDE A GODLY MODEL OF RIGHTEOUS RESPONSES TO LIFE’S CHALLENGES* — Paul commends Timothy for his “sincere faith.”
The word translated “sincere” [2] occurs but six times in the New Testament.
The Apostle admonishes the Roman Christians, “Let love be genuine” [ROMANS 12:9a].
Paul appealed to several evidences when arguing for the validity of the message he declared; one evidence was “genuine love” [2 CORINTHIANS 6:6].
Earlier, in his First Letter to Timothy, recall that the Apostle attested, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” [1 TIMOTHY 1:5].
James will contend that the wisdom from above is “impartial and sincere” among other characteristics [JAMES 3:17].
And, finally, the Big Fisherman will urge believers, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” [1 PETER 1:22].
From a philological point of view, the Greek term anupókritos means “lacking in pretence or show,” hence, “genuine” or “sincere.”
[3] In the passages cited, this word qualifies love (either agápe or philadelphía).
Thus, we see that Christian love arises from an open heart without ulterior motives.
Likewise, when Paul uses this word to speak of the faith sought, it speaks of faith that is not affected by expediency.
True faith grows out of the union of the believer with the Living Christ; it is rooted in the heart and is expressed by a transparent life.
Though it is not intended to be the focus of this message, I do not want to pass too quickly consideration of the type of faith that causes joy for the follower of the Christ.
I believe it will be beneficial for us to note even briefly the quality of faith that should be sought in each disciple’s life.
Godly faith, as is also true of the love Christians are to express, must be genuine.
We are neither to feign love, talking a good game while refusing to live as though love meant much, nor are we to love in order to receive.
The love we express to one another as followers of the Christ must not be contingent on how that love is received.
Much of what is identified as “love” in modern culture is offered on a quid pro quo basis.
The concept is that I will love you so long as you are worthy of my love or you love me in return.
Do we Christians need to be reminded that we do not deserve Christ’s love?
He loved us when we were unlovable.
Scripture is replete with passages teaching this truth.
For instance, we are taught by Paul, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” [ROMANS 5:6-10].
God’s love was showered on fallen mankind, not because we deserved His love, but because He was revealing His love toward us through providing atonement for those who would receive it.
Of course, we dare not ignore John’s instruction provided in his first letter.
The passage is somewhat extended, primarily because it constitutes a major argument presented by the Apostle of Love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
We love because he first loved us.
If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” [1 JOHN 4:7-21].
There is an aspect of Timothy’s faith that is not frequently mentioned among the churches of our day—his faith revealed the correlation between the Jewish Faith and the Christian Faith.
The professed Christian cannot be anti-Semitic.
We must recognise that, as Jesus Himself has testified, “Salvation is from the Jews” [JOHN 4:22].
Christians are not antagonists of the Jewish people; we appreciate that they were the repository of knowledge concerning the True and Living God.
The Apostle Paul reminded Christian readers that “The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God” [ROMANS 3:2].
As believers in the Son of God, all twice-born individuals must be humble before the knowledge that God has revealed His grace toward us; He has shown us great mercy.
This is especially true for those of us who are not Jewish.
We who are Gentiles dare not presume against the mercy we have received; and especially is it true that no Gentile dare discriminate against God’s Chosen People, the Jews.
Anti-Semitism must never be tolerated among the people of God.
Rather, we must show love and compassion toward those whom God calls His chosen ones.
In support of this contention, I refer to an extended statement in which the Apostle to the Gentiles cautions against presumption.
He writes, “Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking.
The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
‘God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.’
And David says,
‘Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.’
“So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall?
By no means!
Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
“Now I am speaking to you Gentiles.
Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches.
If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.
Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’
That is true.
They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith.
So do not become proud, but fear.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness.
Otherwise you too will be cut off.
And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
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