Thursday, November 5, 2020

91. 1 and 2 Timothy / Titus / Philemon

1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. (Thru the Bible #50) J. Vernon McGee. 1978. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The First Epistle to Timothy introduces us to a new set of epistles which were written by Paul.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

This was a super-timely read. Of course, since McGee's books are saturated with Scripture, and Scripture is always timely and relevant, that doesn't come as a big surprise. But it's good to know that the Word can and does GROUND you. McGee offers plenty of wisdom and insight in this commentary of FOUR books of the Bible. He covers each chapter though perhaps not each and every single verse. 

Quotes from 1 Timothy
  • He is our faith when we look backwards; He is love when we look around us today; and He is our hope as we look ahead. But it is hope, actually, all the way through our lives, and that hope is anchored in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • When you and I come to God, we don’t want justice, for we would be condemned. What we want and need from God is mercy. And God has provided mercy for all His creatures. God is rich in mercy, but when He saves you, He saves you by His grace.
  • There are three things that should be manifest in the church. The first is faith—faith in God and in His Word. The second is love. Love is not something you simply mouth all the time. Love is an active concern for others, which means you won’t gossip about them or in any way bring harm to them.
  • Paul says that Christians are to pray for public officials, and I take it that he meant that the prayers were to be made in the church. To bring this up-to-date, he is saying the Democrats ought to pray for the Republicans, and the Republicans ought to pray for the Democrats. Many years ago a famous chaplain of the Senate was asked by a visitor, “Do you pray for the senators?” He replied, “No, I look at the senators, and then I pray for the country!” That is exactly what Paul says we need to do.
  • If you are a Republican and a Democrat is in office, pray for him. If you are a Democrat and a Republican is in office, pray for him.
  • You may ask, “Yes, but are we to pray when the government is a corrupt one?” Paul is saying we are to pray even if it’s a corrupt government. We are to pray for whoever is in power. Remember that the man who was in power in Rome when Paul wrote was bloody Nero, yet he says we are to pray for kings, whoever they are.
  • Any government is better than no government. Some people may question that, but an evil, corrupt government, if it really governs, is better than anarchy.
  • I believe that we are actually going to see the persecution of Christians in this country in the future. I do not mean the persecution of church members—the liberal church is so compromised today that they will go along with whatever comes along. I am saying that genuine believers in Christ may encounter persecution.
  • It is not important for you and me to get a certain man elected to office. I have never in my ministry recommended a candidate for office. I am not called to do that, and I don’t believe any minister is. I am to pray for our leaders regardless of who they are in order that the gospel can go out. I want a man in office who is going to make it possible for the Word of God to continue to be given to the lost. This should be our concern and our prayer.
  • Well, my friend, today we have a Mediator—the Lord Jesus Christ has come. He has one hand in the hand of Deity because He is God. He is able to save to the uttermost because He is God, and He has paid the price for our salvation. He is a Mediator because He has also become man. He can hold my hand; He understands me. He understands you; you can go to Him, and He is not going to be upset with you. He will not lose His temper or strike you or hurt you in any way.
  • Don’t ever say that woman brought sin into the world, unless you are prepared to add that woman also brought the Savior into the world. My friend, no man provided a Savior: a woman did.
  • What the Bible calls sin is still sin. Human nature is still human nature. The spiritual qualifications which the Bible lays down for church officers must still hold good today if the church is to represent the Lord Jesus Christ here on this earth.
  • Today Christ is at God’s right hand. At this very moment, my friend, He is there. Have you talked to Him today? Have you told Him that you love Him, and have you thanked Him for all He has done? How wonderful He is!
  • A departure suggests not only that you have a point to which you are going, but also a point from which you have come. Those who apostatize are ones who have professed at one time to hold to the faith, but now they have departed from it. The apostasy comes within the organized church among those who profess to the faith and then depart from it.
  • My friend, if you do have the truth it will make you humble, because the first thing you will find out is how little you know.
  • There are those today, however, who know very little about the Word of God, but they speak as if they were authorities.
  • “Nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine”—this is how the believer is to grow in the Word of God.
  • The Prodigal Son lost a great deal by going to the far country, and any Christian who lives a careless life rather than a godly life will find that even in eternity he will pay for it.
  • If you stand for Jesus Christ today it will cost you something. There is no question about that.
  • God have mercy on the minister who is not giving out the Word of God! That is a frightful sin. It would be better to be a gangster than to be a man who is supposed to give out the Word of God and fails to do so.
  • If we exalt a young Christian to the position of a teacher before he is thoroughly grounded in the Word, the theology he teaches is apt to be weird theology.
  • The church ought to be a place of instruction where the Word of God is taught and men and women are built up in the faith. Instead, today we often develop what I call Alka-Seltzer Christians and Alka-Seltzer churches—it’s all fizz, foam, and froth, a lot of emotion, and a lot of talk about love, love, love. It is important that love be displayed in a church, but it needs to be anchored in the Word of God.
  • “Lay hold on eternal life.” Let me ask you a question: If you were arrested for being a Christian and were brought into court, would there be enough evidence to convict you? This is what Paul is talking about. “Lay hold on eternal life”—make it clear by your life that you are a child of God.
From 2 Timothy
  • Man is in such a state that he cannot be saved by perfect obedience—because he cannot render it. Neither can he be saved by imperfect obedience—because God will not accept it.
  • Liberal preaching, instead of presenting the grace of God to sinful man, goes out in three different directions. From some liberal pulpits we hear what is really popular psychology. It majors in topics such as this: “How to Overcome” or “How to Think Creatively” or “How to Think Affirmatively or Positively.” It says that we’re on the way upward and onward forever!
  • A second type of liberal preaching involves ethics. It preaches a nice little sweet gospel—a sermonette preached by a preacherette to Christianettes. The message goes something like this: “Good is better than evil because it’s nicer and gets you into less trouble.” The picture of the average liberal church is that of a mild-mannered man standing before a group of mild-mannered people, urging them to be more mild-mannered! There’s nothing quite as insipid as that.
  • Then there’s a third type of liberal preaching which is called the social gospel. They preach better race relations, pacifism, social justice, and the Christian social order. It is Christian socialism pure and simple.
  • God is merciful when He does not give us what we deserve; that is, judgment and condemnation. Paul needed a great deal of mercy, and we do too. Fortunately, God is rich in mercy toward us.
  • I have labeled this chapter, “Afflictions of the gospel” because there is a feeling today that the Christian life is a life that ought to be very easy, nice and sweet, bright and breezy. A great many of us think that we have an indulgent heavenly Father who is just going to put us on a bed of roses, remove every stone out of our pathway, and not let anything serious happen to us.
  • There is something wrong if you become too popular as a Christian. I am afraid that many Christians are thinking like a little boy in Sunday school whose teacher asked, “Johnny, which of the parables do you like best?” The little fellow answered, “The one where everybody loafs and fishes.”
  • “Who hath abolished death” is literally since He has made of none effect death. Death means something altogether different to the child of God—Christ made it of no effect. 
  • “He is able to keep that which I have committed.” It is a great comfort to know that all we are and all we have is in His hands.
  • “Sound words”—the words of Scripture are inspired. I believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Word of God and do not think that any other viewpoint is satisfactory, and certainly it does not satisfy the demands of Scripture.
  • “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” I love this—“be strong in grace.” My friend, if you think that you can grit your teeth and go out and live the Christian life on your own, you’re in for a great disappointment. If you feel that you can follow a few little rules or some clever gimmicks to make you a mature Christian, then you have fallen into a subtle trap of legalism.
  • The child of God is to recognize that he is a soldier. And we are to recognize that the Christian life is not a playground; it is a battlefield. It is a battlefield where battles are being won, and where battles are being lost also. There is a real spiritual battle going on.
  • Forget the gimmickry today that condenses Christianity into a little course or a few rules and regulations. God gave us sixty-six books, and each one of them is very important. It takes the composite picture to give us the mind and the Word of God. We are to study the whole Bible. An athlete can’t cut the corner of a racetrack. Neither can a baseball player run by second base without touching it; he has to touch all the bases to score. A child of God has to do that, too.
  • My feeling is that the Word of God has to be sown, and I take the position that the total Word has to be sown before there can be a harvest.
  • “Rightly dividing the word of truth” means to handle rightly the Word of God. To rightly divide the Word the Christian is to be a skilled workman like an artisan. The student of the Word must understand that the Word of God is one great bundle of truth and that it has certain right divisions. The Bible is built according to a certain law and structure, which must be observed and obeyed as you go through the Word of God. You can’t just lift out a verse here and a verse there and choose to ignore a passage here and a passage there. It is so easy to do this, but the Bible is not that kind of Book. This is the reason I maintain that the Bible is to be taught in its entirety.
  • We are, I believe, moving into the last days of the church. My reason for saying this is that the things mentioned in these verses have appeared today. If you look back in the history of the church, you could certainly find some of these things in evidence, but I don’t think you could ever find a period in which all of them are so manifested as they are today.
  • An article by a newspaper correspondent who had covered Washington, D.C., for many years, noted that the one thing which has characterized Washington for the past twenty years is that those who are in position want the reporters to praise them. In fact, they insist upon it. That is not confined to Washington.
  • To be complimented, you have to compliment. So the teachers compliment their congregations and their boards of officers. They don’t tell the people that they are sinners and need a Savior; they tell them how wonderful they are. It is interesting that the love of self characterizes our contemporary society. Probably there has never been a time when it has been so common.
  • The only antidote against a world of apostasy is the Word of God. The only resource and recourse for the child of God is the Word of God.
  • Paul tells Timothy to continue in the things he had learned. He had learned the Holy Scriptures because his grandmother and mother were Jewish women and had seen to it that Timothy grew up on the Word of God.
  • “Which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” What kind of salvation is he talking about? After all, Timothy was already saved. Well, salvation occurs in three tenses. There is the past tense: I have been saved from sin. The present tense is: I am being saved from sin. The third tense is future: I shall be saved from sin.
  • It is my contention that the constant study of the Word of God is the only help that any of us has. It is able to make us “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” And I think it makes us wise in knowing how to live down here.
  • When Paul says “all scripture,” he means all of it, from Genesis to Revelation. Somebody will say, “But don’t you know that Revelation hadn’t been written at the time 2 Timothy was written?” Yes, I know that. But the important thing to know is that Revelation became Scripture, so it is covered by this word all.
  • The word inspiration means “God breathed.” The writers of Scripture were not just pens that the Lord picked up and wrote with. The marvel is that God used these men’s personalities, expressed things in their own thought patterns, yet got through exactly what He wanted to say. Through these men God has given us His Word.
  • He has nothing more to say to us today. If He spoke out of heaven today, He wouldn’t add anything to what He has already said.
  • “Is profitable for doctrine.” Scripture is good “for doctrine,” that is, for teaching. That’s why we teach it. It is good “for reproof,” which means conviction.
  • Studying the Bible should bring conviction to us. In fact, that is the way you can test whether the Word of God is moving in your life. If you read this Book like any other book, then the Spirit of God is not moving in your life. But if it convicts you, then you know the Holy Spirit is at work within you.
  • All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and all of it is to be used in order to meet your needs.
  • We have seen that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God—it is God breathed. It says what God wants said, and it has said everything He wants to say. For this reason it meets the needs of the human heart.
  • When it gets into your life it does something that no other Book can do because it is the very Word of God.
  • “Preach the word” means to proclaim the Word, to give it out, to herald it. This phrase is sort of a rallying cry, a motto that people respond to. You remember that we had such a thing during World War II: “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Back in the Spanish-American War, it was “Remember the Maine.” This is our rallying cry today: “Preach the Word.”
  • If someone wakes you up at two o’clock in the morning you ought to be able to give out the Word of God.
  • Here is another subtle point: Paul does not say to preach from the Word. He does not say to lift a verse from the Bible and then weave a sermon around it. Someone has well said that a text is a pretext that’s taken out of its context. We are not to preach about the Word of God or from the Word of God, but preach the Word of God itself!

From Titus
  • Tell me what you think of Jesus Christ; tell me what you believe about His death on the cross and what it means to you; tell me what you believe about His resurrection and what it means to you; tell me whether you believe the Bible to be the Word of God. With this information I think I can deduce whether you are a child of God or not.
  • Truth will lead to godliness, and if it doesn’t lead to godliness, it is not truth, my friend.
  • The grace of God has appeared, and, therefore, God extends mercy to us today. I don’t know about you, but I use up a whole lot of the mercy of God. I am grateful that He is good to me and does not deal with me according to my orneriness and disobedience. He has simply been good to me.
  • The church must teach sound doctrine or it is not a church.
  • I believe that the individual Christian is free to go into politics, but I do not believe that the church should go into politics.
  • We need individuals who will enter into government and take social action, but the church as an organization is not called upon to go into politics.
  • Because Christ died for us and paid the penalty for our sins, God is prepared to extend mercy to us; it is according to His mercy that He saved us. And He is rich in mercy, which means He has plenty of it. Whoever you are, He can save you today because Christ died for you. He paid the penalty and makes over to you His righteousness! Have you noticed that in everything God does there is a surplus? He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
  • We are to defend the faith, Paul says, but we are not to do it by argument or debate. That does no good; that never led anyone to the Lord. You may whip a man down intellectually by your arguments, but that does not touch his heart and win him for Christ.
  • I am not interested in being joined with anyone who has views that are in opposition to the Word of God. God tells us here to be separate from heretics. Just let them alone; reject them.
From Philemon

  • We can hear Christ agreeing to take our place and to have all our sin imputed to Him. He took our place in death, but He gives us His place in life. Behind Paul’s plea is Christ’s plea to the Father on behalf of the sinner who trusts Christ as the Savior. That sinner is received on the same standing that Christ is received. In other words, the saved sinner has as much right in heaven as Christ has, for he has His right to be there. We are accepted in the beloved (see Eph. 1:6).

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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