1Timothy 1:1-7 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, (2) To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
(3) As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, (4) nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (5) The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
(6) Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, (7) desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
Christ is the Christian’s hope. Not a “got my fingers crossed” kind of hope as in “I hope I win the lottery,” but a certain hope. A confident assurance that what He has promised us He will perform. Hope really is faith looking forward and seeing, as Hebrews says, what is as yet unseen.
Therefore this hope is the believer’s anchor when the storms come-
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
This world (both visible and invisible) works to distract us from Christ. It shouldn’t surprise us. After all, the Christian whose eyes are taken off of Christ is a Christian whose faith and hope are seriously weakened. He or she won’t be very effective in battle with shields down.
Paul goes on then to warn Timothy, and us, about these distractions. In Timothy’s case (and in ours as well as we will see) they took the form of a certain kind of false teachers working over the believers at Ephesus. These people and their message were characterized by:
- Strange (different) doctrines
- Endless genealogies
- All producing speculations, not sound fact
- Fruitless discussion
- Erroneous teaching about the Law
I suspect that Pastor Sam Powell could give us more details about exactly what these myths and “endless genealogies” were. We know that the Jews were given to all kinds of foolish speculations about Scriptural events and people. That is where what we call the pseudepigrapha originate. Fictitious myths that got started and which these people just loved to spin as perhaps they sat around down at the synagogue. Things that were not only false, but had nothing to do at all with the gospel of Christ.
Paul reminds us that, in contrast –
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
In other words, these are the things that we want to see produced in the life of the Christian. The myths and tales and lore however do not produce any good fruit. They only turn people aside from Christ.
Now, are these same errorists doing their thing among us today? Of course. You have probably run into them. For instance, you can find all sorts of such tales in the “saint-lore” of the Roman Catholic church. This saint pulled of that miracle and that saint did such and such. Think about it. Does Rome focus people’s sight on Christ Jesus our hope? No way.
And we see it in Protestant circles as well. Just go down to the Christian bookstore and take a look. Hucksters of all kinds are unlawfully using Scripture to promote their certain brand of….whatever. And there are circles of pastors and theologians who delight in this same kind of thing, patting one another on the back as, like the Athenian philosophers, they go around constantly looking for something new to hear.
When I took a motorcycle training course a few years ago, the instructor stood at a certain axis point on the track in order to train us to look ahead in a curve. As you went through the curve, he would be shouting “look at me!” The reason for this is this principle – “You go where you look.” If you look through the curve toward a point at the end of it, instead of looking right in front of you. then you and the bike will naturally follow the best path smoothly through the curve.
And so it is in following Christ. You go where you look. Look at Jesus and you will go where He is going. But get your eyes and focus off of Him by listening to some myth and mere speculation and, well, that’s how the ship ends up on the rocks.