Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: making an impact

Practicing to be like Jesus

“When am I ever going to use this stuff?”

That phrase is the rally cry of every student who has had their fill of theory and talk.  I wondered it when I was a kid, and now my kids have asked it of me.

Earlier in his letter to Timothy, we observed that Paul made the connection between godliness and being like Jesus.  There were three Jesus-like-ness observations we noted:

·        Jesus knew the Scriptures – He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Often during His teaching, Jesus would reference the Scriptures by saying “It is written” or asking the question “Have you not read?
·        Jesus was totally focused on His part in God’s plan and kingdom – He was on mission and would not be deterred.  In John 6:38, He said “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
·        Jesus knew both the Scriptures and His mission well enough that He could impact the lives of others – He cared for others, met them where they were, and pointed them toward God the Father.

Just a handful of verses after Paul made the connection between godliness and being like Jesus, he encouraged Timothy with these words:

1 Timothy 4:12-16
No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching.  Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.

Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.  Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul’s instructions for Timothy match the three attributes of Jesus-like-ness we noted earlier.  First, Paul told Timothy to know the Scriptures. Through his devotion to public reading, exhortation, and teaching, Timothy would be immersing himself in God’s Word. 

Next, Paul urged Timothy to focus on his part in God’s plan and kingdom.  While he was a unique combination of skills and experience, when you add in the gift given to him by God, Timothy was especially prepared for this work in Ephesus. 

Lastly, Paul encouraged Timothy to practice these things; be committed to them…persevere in these things and his end result would be like Jesus’ – Timothy would know both the Scriptures and his mission well enough to impact the lives of others, or, as Paul put it, Timothy would save both himself and his hearers.  Now Timothy could not add to Jesus’ finished work on the cross, so we know that Paul isn’t referring to an eternal salvation here.  But then what would Timothy be saving them all from?

A few verses back, right after equating godliness with being like Jesus, Paul warned:

1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons

As Timothy applies what he’s learned from Paul, as he endeavors to be like Jesus – then he, too, will have the opportunity to save both himself and his hearers from the pitfalls of false teachings.  What a great rescue mission!

What could we do if we also imitate Jesus by knowing the Scriptures and using our God-given gifts?  What kind of rescuing could we do?  Will we trust God and find out?

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Unknown impact

As Paul closes his letter, he gives Titus one final charge:

Titus 3:13 Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need. 

Based on this statement, it is likely that that Zenas and Apollos were the ones who delivered Paul’s letter to Titus.  Although Zenas isn’t mentioned anywhere else in Scripture, Apollos was a well-known preacher during the first century.  He preached in many of the same regions that Paul did, and their ministries sometimes overlapped.

Interestingly enough, Apollos’ ministry began as an indirect result of Paul’s second missionary journey.  Paul met, befriended, and ministered alongside a couple named Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth.  After a year and a half, they traveled to Ephesus – Aquila and Priscilla stayed there, while Paul continued on to Caesarea and Antioch.  It’s in Ephesus that we first meet Apollos:

Acts 18:24-26 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus.  He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

What Aquila and Priscilla learned from Paul, they passed on to Apollos.  In heeding their counsel, Apollos finally met the Savior he had been looking forward to, based upon his understanding of the Scriptures.  His next step was to share with others his new relationship with God:

Acts 18:27-28 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.  On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.  For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Although Paul wasn’t directly involved in Apollos’ conversion, his previous actions of faithfully spreading the gospel led up to the moment when Aquila and Priscilla could lead Apollos to a better understanding of Jesus.  Paul, Aquila, or Priscilla would have had no foresight that their actions would have led to the rise of such a dynamic speaker and teacher for Christ.  However, the faithful actions of those three people eventually led to the encouragement and strengthening of many believers across the known world.

Our takeaway should be the same – be faithful in what God has asked us to do.  You never know when your mentoring of just one person will impact scores of other people.  Maybe you’ll see the fruits of those labors, or even get to work with your spiritual grand-children, like Paul eventually did when Apollos delivered the letter to Titus.  Or perhaps we’ll have to wait until Heaven to find out the full impact of our work for Jesus.

The point is to be faithful, and trust that God knows what to do with the fruit of our labor with him.

Keep Pressing,
Ken