ďHOW WAS I TO KNOW?Ē††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Pastor YAU
Text: 1 Timothy 3:14-15†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† August 15, 2010.
1) Reminders of a teacher: It was a high-school concert season, and the music students were preparing for the big Christmas concert. The teacher clearly communicated every detail to the students and the parents on two different occasions---and the time for mandatory rehearsal was clearly spelled out. But on the rehearsal day one panicky mother called during practice to see what time her teenager was supposed to show up. Another called to say: ďOh, weíre taking Tommy to Grandmaís. Itís OK if he misses rehearsal, right?Ē When the teacher reminded the parent that this required practice had already started, she heard, ďWhy didnít someone tell me? How was I to know?Ē
2) Reminders of an apostle: On his second missionary trip, Paul came to Ephesus after Corinth and stayed there for over 2 years preaching the gospel. (Acts 19:1-12) He later installed Timothy as pastor of the church and wrote the letter to the Ephesians from Roman where he was in prison. The Ephesians church was one of the better churches in the early Christian era. But she had many problems in the church such as spiritual qualification of church leadership and doctrines of salvation and others. Besides his letter to the church at large, Paul also wrote 2 more letters to Timothy, the pastor. Paul wanted both the people in the church and Timothy to know exactly what to believe and how to lead the church the right way. He told them: ďAlthough I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in Godís household (the church).Ē (1 Timothy 3:14)
WHY DONíT WE KNOW?
1) Because we donít read: As Paul repeatedly wrote letters to the churches and individual Christians to give them instructions, God had written to His people, and us, repeatedly in the Bible, instructions on doctrines and everyday living. Most Christians do not know God and his instructions because they donít read the instruction book. Some times we printed church activity announcements on Sunday bulletins repeatedly for weeks, but some will never read the bulletin and said: How am I to know? If you donít read what you should read, you just donít know.
2) Because we donít listen: Usually teachers give instructions to students verbally, and send that same in printed page for parents if they were not present in school at the time. Some of the more important activity items were printed and read by worship presiders to draw the attention of the congregation. But if you donít want to listen, you still donít know. This also happens to teaching and preaching. Christians either donít come to worship or attend classes, or donít really listening to what is being taught in worship and class time, they still donít know.
3) Because we donít remember: Many times, people donít follow instructions because they forgot what they had learned. Their memory was lost and their focus get blurred so they donít know what was taught and what they need to do. Look at the story in the introduction, if either the student or the parent remember the instruction given by the teacher, Tommy will not be the way to the Grandmaís, nor the parent assumed that it is OK for Tommy to miss the final rehearsal. Both of them forgot what was in the instruction. Some of my people couldnít remember the sermon I preached just a week ago. How can they learn and practice?
4) Because we donít care: Sorry and forgive me of being rude but honest, most of the things we donít know are things we donít care. Who will pay attention to things he doesnít care? When we donít care about God, godly principles of life, Godís way of doing things or Godís purpose in our lives, we wonít listen, we wonít read, we wonít follow and we donít care if we donít know. This is about our value system and priority. When we set them the opposite against Godís command, we donít care.
WE NEED TO LISTEN BEFORE WE KNOW:
1) Listen to the word of God: ďMoses summoned all the Israelis and said: Hear, O Israel, the decrees, laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.Ē (Deut. 5:1)The Book of Deuteronomy is a summary of all the laws and decrees given to the first generation Israelis mostly in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. Many years later, a new generation of Israelis came up who didnít see or know the laws and the miracles. So, Moses repeated to them what God gave their forefathers. Since the forefathers didnít listen nor obey the laws of God and they all died in the wilderness, age 20 and up, God wanted this new generation to listen to His decrees and laws so they will know how to follow in their lives. As Godís people, we all need to listen to God through His word in the Bible. Do not skip Bible study or worship or devotional time.
2) †Listen to your godly parents: ďListen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of life will be many. I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.Ē (Proverbs 4:10) Many social scientists concluded that many of the problems we face today are stemmed from the rebellious nature of young people. They carry that rebellious attitude into their adult life. I know that there are parents who forfeit their duty as well as privilege in teaching their children, but the rebellion of children is the biggest reason for many problems in their life and the society at large. How do children know right from wrong if they donít listen to parents, especially the godly ones?
3) Listen to messengers of God: ďThis day, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.Ē (Deut. 30:19-20) The Israeli forefathers refused to listen to Moses, a messenger of God, and all died in the wilderness. Today we also see this problem extends to Christains.† Many Christians have refused to Godís message through his messengers. This was true in the Old Testament time, it is much worse today. These people either do not hear Godís word by staying out or hear the word but pay no attention. The pulpit God installs is a serious place and preachers need to take it with utmost reverence and those who listen to Godís messages from it need to respect and follow.
4) Listen to the Holy Spirit: ďWhile they were worshiping the Lord and fasting the Holy Spirit said: Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.Ē (Acts 13:2) This is the beginning of the world wide missionary endeavor God intended for the spread of the gospel to the Gentile world. It was completely against the Jewish belief and tradition that the grace of salvation would go beyond the chosen people. God sent His Spirit to move the heart of His people to accomplish an important mission. Today, God still sends His Spirit to inspire the hearts of His people to fulfill His plans. Countless faithful have respond to the Spirit in the past. It is our time and duty to listen to that same Spirit today when God extends a call to us.
HERE IS WHAT WE CAN DO TO KNOW: (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
1) Listen to their words: ďI hope to come to you soon.Ē (3:14a) Paul was hoping to come to Ephesus in person to deliver some instruction on Christian virtues, prayer, spiritual qualities of church leaders, doctrine of salvation by faith in Jesus, relationship between people in the church and others. Paul wanted to go there to bring the teaching to them. Paul was the authority in all these because he was called by Jesus Christ to teach His people. If we truly want to learn and know important truth, we need to seek and listen to those who were called and are genuine in teaching Godís truth.
2) Read from their writings: ďI am writing you these instructions if I am delayed.Ē (3:14b)Not all of us have the privilege to listen to the authority on spiritual instructions. But these people have written many Spirit filled and inspired books, articles, sermons and lectures that are as good as their own speech. How often do we read a Christian book, a magazine, an article, listen to a radio message that are Christian oriented, compare to how much time you read papers, magazines and watch TV for fun. Our spiritual appetite shows our inner spiritual condition. And how much time do we spend in reading the Bible, the book of God?
3) Conduct our life godly: ďYou will know how people ought to conduct themselves in the house of God.Ē (3:15a) Christians who listen to godly messages, read and learn godly principles should conduct their life according to what they have learned. To live a godly life either at home, in church, at work or school is a good proof of our inner spiritual quality. We donít learn just to know; we learn to live out the truth.
4) Build Godís church on truth: ďWhich is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.Ē (3:15b) The church of God is the only institution on earth God designated to spread His truth, the truth of salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. We learn to know; we know to live and we live to build Godís church so others will know the truth and be saved. This was the goal of Paul and it should also be the goal of our life.
1) To know is a privilege: There are millions of people in this world who donít have the means, freedom or opportunity to know the truth, be it truth of life or truth of eternal life. We live in a country full of opportunity and convenience to learn and to know. Why do many of us refuse to know and still live in ignorance and despair? Seize every opportunity to learn and to know to enrich your life, today, tomorrow and to eternity.
2) To know the right thing: Not all the things in this world are good to our life and worthy of learning and knowing. Exercise your wisdom to make the right choices. Donít waste your energy and time to know things that donít enhance your life or may be even endanger it. No one has endless time or energy to know all the things he/she wants. So, choose those things that may contribute to the meaning, quality and satisfaction both for life here on earth and then in heaven.