Our God is. He is now. His promise is now. His presence is now. He is!!
The future is going to great. But so is now. His offer to me is not the distant future. “Just keep slogging away and I will reward you in heaven” kind of world. It is in this age as well in the age to come. Many times, more now that I can expect. It is “both today and forever”.
First in the physical world. Then in the spiritual world. Many times, more in the physical now.
The promise is for now and for the future. God’s goal for us is that we will be spiritually fit. This requires a very disciplined life.
Here are the key ideas:
- Faith requires discipline in believing that God is good and will see us through to the end.
- God’s goal is for us to be spiritually fit.
- God is in control. Faith believes that today. That faith gives us hope. We can take heart.
- God expects us to throw ourselves totally into his work.
- God is great because he chooses to save all of us from a life of missing his goal for us.
If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of the Messiah [Christ] Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Timothy 4:6–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The temporary — “bodily exercise” (vv. 7–8). This is an athletic image. Certainly, we ought to care for our bodies, and exercise is a part of that care. Our bodies are God’s temples, to be used for His glory, and His tools for His service. But bodily exercise benefits us only during this life; godly exercise is profitable now and for eternity. Paul did not ask Timothy to choose between the two; I think God expects us to practice both. A healthy body can be used of God, but we must major on holiness.
The eternal—“godliness” (vv. 7–12) Godly character and conduct are far more important than golf trophies or home-run records, though it is possible for a person to have both. Paul challenged Timothy to be as devoted to godliness as an athlete is to his sport. We are living and laboring for eternity.
Paul used two similar athletic images in writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9:24–27), emphasizing the disciplines necessary for godly living.
- As an athlete must control his body and obey the rules, so a disciple of Jesus must make his body his servant and not his master.
- When I see high school football squads and baseball teams going through their calisthenics under the hot summer sun, I am reminded that there are spiritual exercises that I ought to be doing.
- Prayer, meditation, self-examination, fellowship, service, sacrifice, submission to the will of others, witness—all of these can assist me, through the Spirit, to become a godlier person.
Spiritual exercise is not easy; we must “labor and suffer reproach” (1 Tim. 4:10a). “For this we labor and strive” (NIV). The word translated “strive” is an athletic word from which we get our English word agonize. It is the picture of an athlete straining and giving his best to win. A disciple of Jesus who wants to excel must really work at it, by the grace of God and to the glory of God.
- But exercising ourselves in godly living is not only profitable for us; it is also profitable for others. It enables us to be good examples, so that we encourage others.
- Paul named several areas of life in which you and I should be examples.
- “In word” (1 Tim. 4:12) implies that our speech should always be honest and loving, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).
But godly living not only helps us and other believers; it also has its influence on the lost. Paul reminded pastor Timothy that Jesus Christ is the Savior, and it is the believer’s task to share that Good News with the lost. In effect he wrote, “We Christians have fixed our hope in the living God, but the lost have no hope and do not know the living God. All that many of them know are the dead idols that can never save them.”
The title “Savior of all people” does not imply that everybody will be saved (universalism), or that God saves people in spite of themselves; for Paul added “specially of those that believe.” It is faith that saves one’s soul (Eph. 2:8–10). Since God “will have all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4), and since the Messiah “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6), then any lost sinner can trust Jesus and be saved. The Messiah is “the Savior of all men,” so nobody need despair.
- Timothy should not fear to practice the Word of God and apply it to the life of the church, for this Word is “a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation” (1 Tim. 4:9).
- These faithful sayings made up a summary of truth for the early church. The fact that Timothy was a young man (the word then applied to a person from youth to forty) should not deter him from practicing the Word.
- In fact, he was to “command” these things, and this is our military word “charge” (1 Tim. 1:3).
- The local church is a unit in God’s spiritual army, and its leaders are to pass God’s orders along to the people with authority and conviction.