07-11-18 THE GOOD
Published 7th November 2018
By John Aldworth
1 Timothy 6:13-15: I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Which in his times He shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
It’s important to make a good confession; even more important to keep a good confession. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul writing to Timothy charges him to ‘keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Note that ‘this commandment’ is singular’; it is one thing, not several, Timothy is charged to do. True, Paul has already listed other things Timothy should do, including withdrawing from dissenters and fleeing the love of money. He should follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, and lay hold on eternal life.
But the crunch commandment is that he should ‘fight the good fight of faith’ which obviously means standing up and being counted for the truth BY WAY OF CONFESSION. What truth? you ask. Why, the truth the apostle spells out in verses 13-16 – that Christ will soon show Himself the one and only ruler of heaven and earth, indeed of the universe at his appearing. An additional truth he must proclaim is that Christ is now and already ‘the only mediator between God and men’.
Note that Timothy had already ‘professed a good profession before many witnesses’; that is he had ‘confessed a good confession’ (the Greek word for ‘profess’ and ‘confess’ is the same). But now the apostle challenges him further to witness more fully to the truth of who Christ Jesus now really is in this new and unprecedented ‘dispensation of the grace of God’; first that He has become the only mediator between God and men and, secondly, that He is the great king and ruler of the universe in waiting, who will show Himself as such at his appearing (1 Timothy 6:13-15).
You see it’s not enough to confess Christ Jesus only as Saviour and Lord of one’s life. One must also believe and proclaim the Bible’s clear teaching that He is now the only go-between between humanity and God and also the great King who will soon appear in a blaze of glory to rule the world in righteousness, compelling all authorities to submit to Him. And that prospect, let’s face it, is downright politically dangerous.
Without question, proclaiming the imminent intervention of Christ to govern the world got Paul and Timothy into big trouble (both were imprisoned and Paul was executed). Why? Because the very thought of another king with tens of thousands of followers behind Him and more believing in Him every day was a threat Rome’s rulers had to take seriously. Hence the persecution that saw multitudes of believers seized and put to death in the arena.
Today, by contrast, impending world rule by Christ is a message few take seriously. Indeed, Christianity, as a political force, is considered well past its use by date and Christendom itself shoots itself in the foot by believing that Christ is already king and reigning as such when He isn’t. If He were the world wouldn’t be in the horrible mess it is. For when He rules it will be with ‘justice and equity’ for all. Mankind will be put right with God and a time of peace, blessing, prosperity for all and renewal of the earth will ensue.
Now, it is clear from the 1 Timothy 6 passage that Paul had no doubt that Timothy was called unto eternal life and that as a man of God had been confessing and professing the truth that Christ ‘gave Himself a ransom for all’ and wants ‘all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth’. But that truth was then expanded through new revelation to Paul, as he declares in this epistle: ‘For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’. This was news indeed to those in the Acts period ‘church of God’ who had been saved by the message and miracles of the apostles and other witnesses who were the mediators Christ appointed to continue his work during the Pentecostal administration of the Book of Acts.
But while there were many mediators then, Paul says, there is now only one Mediator – Christ, and Him alone. No pastors, priests, preachers, prophets or even apostles can stand between men and God, only Christ Himself. Yet to this day churches, their officials and ministers unwittingly usurp His ministry and take his role as mediator upon themselves in defiance of the plain teaching of scripture.
Fact is that God wants to relate to believers direct without any go between, not even anything calling itself ‘church’. As has been pointed out by others, Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, ‘… God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’. He did not say ‘in spirit and in truth and in the church’. Not surprisingly, the truth that Christ alone now mediates between people and God was not popular in the religious circles of Timothy’s day; neither is it now. But it is truth worth fighting for, and that is exactly what the apostle tells his disciple to do: ‘… war a good warfare’ and ‘Fight the good fight’
Timothy would have to ‘endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ to profess and confess the fullness of who Christ is now, as the only Mediator, and all that He will be at his appearing as ‘the blessed and only Potentate’. Not surprisingly, fierce battle lines are still drawn over these two issues in Christendom today. Most people are no more willing today to recognise Christ as God Almighty and the soon to be revealed King of heaven and earth than was the Jewish council which contrived his death nearly 2,000 years ago, or the Roman Empire which in later years saw his large following as a serious assault on its stability. Which is why confession before hostile witnesses that Christ really is the God-appointed King was so crucial back then, and is no less so now – that He, and He alone, is the rightful Ruler of earth and heaven, indeed of all the universe He created and that very soon He will intervene to bring about his government on earth. What’s more, it seems the confession the Lord Jesus made before Pilate is much the same as the one we should be making about Him now.
This is why, in urging Timothy to maintain his own profession (or confession), the Apostle Paul reminds him of the ‘good confession’ Jesus Christ made before Pontius Pilate. Let us look at it. The scene is set in John 18: 28-38. Jesus has been led from his second trial before Caiaphas the high priest to the Roman-administered ‘hall of judgement’ to be tried for his life by Pilate, Roman Governor of Judea. Asked by Pilate if He is ‘King of the Jews’, Jesus makes this stunning response:
My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Note carefully the Lord said his kingdom was not ‘of this world’, meaning that it will originate not from earth but will operate from heaven. Accordingly, this kingdom is referred to as ‘the kingdom of heaven’ in the gospels and by the Apostle Paul as the Lord’s ‘heavenly kingdom’ in 2 Timothy 4:18.
Sadly, the latter verse is used to support the erroneous notion that upon death believers go straight to heaven to live there for eternity. They don’t. Rather heaven is brought about on earth by a new Government in which Christ the King rules from heaven above over mankind beneath. He will blaze forth his glory at his appearing and draw the hearts of men on earth to Him. This will bring about the most blessed time of righteousness mankind has ever seen. Importantly, please do not confuse this wonderful ‘Day of Christ’ with his Second Coming which will come many centuries later.
Jesus also tells Pilate that this heavenly kingdom, his government over all mankind, will not come about in this ’present world’. This indicates, as He had taught earlier, that it will occur in what He called ‘that world’ or the ‘world to come’. The diligent Bible student will quickly see that this new era is the ‘Day of Christ’, the age of his governance over the world. It is described in the gospels as the ‘kingdom of heaven’ and the ‘kingdom of God’. Importantly, during the Lord’s ministry on earth, this kingdom was offered in the person of Messiah Jesus to Israel, God’s chosen people, but because they rejected Him, God took the kingdom from them.
Pilate then asks, ‘Art thou a king then?’ a question which cuts to the heart of the matter. Jesus’s answer is:
Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Everyone that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Jesus then was born to be King and this is the truth He bore witness to throughout his life on earth. Today being ‘saved’, joining a church and at death going to heaven, is considered the most important truth and crux of the gospel message. But, as the Lord taught it, the only way to be saved was to ‘enter into life ‘by entering the kingdom’. And, obviously, one cannot enter the kingdom without recognising and submitting to the King. Sadly understanding this is still ‘a bridge too far’ for many would-be believers today. Yes, they can believe in Jesus as Saviour and Lord but they baulk at believing in his imminent appearing as King of the world ruling from heaven, preferring instead to postpone both the occurrence of his manifest presence and the rule of his sovereignty until his so-called ‘Second Coming’
Against that, I would submit that a full belief in the King and the heavenly kingdom soon to be inaugurated at his appearing is still required to be fully saved. The Apostle Paul never said that he or anyone else would die and go straight to heaven. Rather, after 20 or more years of ministry, we find him still striving to ‘… win Christ, to know Him and the power of his resurrection ... if by many means I may attain the (out) resurrection from the dead’
I suggest this is why In Luke 13:23-29 the Lord is at pains to explain why only few are saved. He said this was because the entrance (to the kingdom and to life) was so narrow. ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and will not be able’ and , in verse 28: ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out’.
Being saved then involves ‘entering in at the straight (or narrow) gate’ for this is ‘the way that leadeth unto life’ and ‘few there be that find it’. Life, eternal life, is the issue here. And as in Jesus’ time on earth, so now, it is not automatically handed on a plate to anyone at the time of conversion. As Paul told Timothy one has to ‘lay hold on eternal life’. There are conditions to be met. Jesus told his disciples that if they continued in his word they would be his disciples indeed, and He told his apostles to ‘abide in Me’ because without Him they could do nothing.
A similar challenge is levelled at all who would call themselves Christians today; indeed it was the very charge Paul laid on Timothy: to wit, to hold fast to the truth, in particular that of Christ appearing soon as King and of receiving life when He brings about his kingdom. Ultimate salvation then is dependent on believing all that Christ said, both when on earth and later through his apostles, and holding fast to it. Accordingly, we are to ‘… continue in the faith …. and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven’. And that gospel mandates that the believer is ultimately saved and finally enters life by being resurrected on earth into the Lord’s kingdom which is ruling from heaven. As scripture says, ‘He that cometh unto God must believe that He is’, meaning that Christ must be fully accepted for all (not part) of Who He says He is and will be. And both in his confession to Pilate and through the Apostle Paul in scripture the Lord clearly states that He is the soon-appearing King.
Furthermore, it is undeniable that in Colossians 1:23 the ‘hope of the gospel’ is his appearing (Greek: epiphanea which means a blazing forth of glory). This is made mandatory in Titus 2:13 where the Apostle Paul instructs us to be:
Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
For us today the appearing is the ‘strait gate’, and the ‘narrow way’ that leads to it is the quickening. Today God is quickening everyone to awareness of Himself as ‘the great God and Saviour’ and reconciling them to Him at the same time. The challenge for us to believe all that He has said. You see, far from us going straight to heaven when we die and living there for ever, as is popularly held, we are told that at present:
… ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.
And folks, that means we will not be in heaven but be resurrected down here to live on earth when the Lord at his appearing establishes his rule over all the earth. The question is will you and I be with Him?
It is time to ask: ‘Who among you will give ear to this? Who will hearken and hear for the time to come?’
 1 Timothy 6
 1 Timothy 6:12
 1 Timothy 2:5
 Ephesians 3:2
 Psalm 98:9, Psalm 67:4, Isaiah 32:1, 33:22, 40:5
 1 Tim. 6:12
 1 Tim. 2:4
 1 Tim. 2:5
 John 4:24
 1 Tim. 1:18
 1 Tim. 6:12.
 1 Tim. 2:3
 1 Timothy 6:15
 Isaiah 66:1, Psalm 89:14
 1 Corinthians 1:8. Philippians 1:10, 2:16
 Luke 20:35
 Matthew 12:32
 Matt. 5:20, 18:3
 Mark 9:1, Matt. 19:23-28
 Matt. 12:28,
 Matt. 21:43
 Matthew 19:17, 23
 Titus 2:13, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Timothy 6:14
 Philippians 3:8-11
 Luke 13:24
Matthew 7:13-14 Luke 13:23-29
 1 Timothy 6:12
 Colossians 1:23
 Hebrews 11:6
 Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13
 Colossians 1:21
 Colossians 3:3-4
 2 Timothy 4:1
 Isaiah 42:23