Hearts Strengthened By Grace (Part Two)- 1Timothy 3:12-17

In our previous post, we have seen that the heart is the wellspring of life, that it is the heart which causes us to desire what we desire, feel what we feel, think how we think and behave how we behave, and that our hearts are strengthened by grace, by growing to know the “heart” of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. The word strengthen means to stabilize, to make steadfast, and we will now examine how our Lord goes about stabilizing our thinking in 1 Timothy 3:12-17. Paul begins here, in verse 12, by telling us that all who “desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. All who would truly desire to live with Jesus as Lord will be persecuted, but what does Paul mean here by persecution? The Greek word persecute here is not martyreo (from which we get the English word martyr) but dioko, persecute here used more as to “bring a charge against, accuse”, and (as we will see clearly in verses 14-17) this persecution comes in the area of our thinking. Those who think biblically, whose way of thinking is shaped by the bible will be seen as weird by the society in general, and will be called hateful, judgmental, narrow minded and intolerant. According to verse 13, this “persecution” will also make its way into the church, for it will be perpetrated by “evil men” (outside the church) and “impostors” (inside the church), all of whom will try to persuade believers to abandon the bible as their primary authority and source of truth. This “persecution” will be ever increasing (from bad to worse) with more and more being deceived and then deceiving others, trying to de-stabilize our thinking by tearing down its foundation in the Word of God. So how are we to combat this, how are we to stabilize our thinking in the midst of all of this? Paul tells Timothy (and us) in verses 14 and 15. We do so by “remaining in what we have learned and have become convinced of” (verse 14), and just what have we learned and become convinced of? “The Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation” (verse 15). From infancy (in the faith), Timothy has been taught and studied the Scriptures, his thinking has been shaped by them (he has “learned” them), and his behavior was becoming conformed to them ( he has been “convinced” by them). The Word of God has shaped Timothy’s thinking from the time he was a babe in the faith. Scripture alone is capable of making us “wise for salvation”, and it does so by shaping the way we think. The word save here is soteria, and does not always and exclusively refer to going to heaven when we die. The word means to rescue or deliver from danger, and the danger primarily referred to here is the danger of having our thinking shaped by worldly philosophies rather than by the truth of the Scriptures, and this salvation comes by being “wise”. Wisdom is knowledge put into practice, and the Bible exhorts us to be wise rather than knowledgeable, we will not be saved from this danger by obtaining Biblical information, but by putting what we learn into practice, and we do so by “faith in Christ Jesus”, who is the living Word and the written Word. Our thinking is stabilized by a growing knowledge, a growing knowledge of both the truth of Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ, which perfectly complement one another. We live in a society in which biblical thinking is seen in an ever-increasingly negative way as the society moves farther and farther from its biblical roots, and we will come under ever-increasing pressure (persecution) to conform our thinking to the society rather than the Scripture. It is only through an ever-increasing knowledge of and commitment to the truth of Scripture as the foundation of our thinking , only as our thinking is stabilized by an ever-increasing knowledge of both the truth of Scripture and the person of Jesus, that we will withstand this “persecution”. It is only those whose hearts are strengthened by grace, whose thinking is stabilized by being rooted and grounded in the truth of Scripture, who will avoid being snared by the “persecution” by the world, ensnared by false teaching from inside the church and worldly philosophy from outside the church, who will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (verse 17), and will do all that God is calling them to do in a fallen world.

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