1 Timothy 4:1-10                                ”Here For Good”                     


            The first few words of our Scripture are often times glossed over. However, since I mentioned something about this three weeks ago in the first sermon in this series, I thought I would just bring it out if you missed it when it was read. Paul, in writing Timothy in Ephesus, does not quote Scripture per se because the Gospels as we have them today were not written yet in Paul’s time. But, this morning we have Paul quoting from a different source that is truly amazing: the Holy Spirit. He says clearly that he has heard the Word of God through the speaking of the Holy Spirit. Paul says: “The Spirit clearly says. . .”! And, he continues on about the church in Ephesus.

            Think about the relationship that Paul must have had with the Holy Spirit in order to make this kind of a statement. It is almost as if we could imagine that the Holy Spirit called him on his cell phone, set a time and place to meet, and then maybe gave Paul the insider scoop on what was going on in Ephesus with certain people while they had doughnuts and coffee. This should encourage us to seek this kind of a relationship with the Holy Spirit in our own lives.

            During this time of Skype and Zoom meetings, I think we need to Skype in on the Holy Spirit of God and Zoom in on the very Word of God. To this end, I want to thank Rick and Diane and David Hanashiro and others who were ready and willing to move all of the parts of our worship service last week (really on super short notice) onto the digital platforms needed to have what turned out to be “almost” regular worship. However, the most important person to be on the digital worship platform was and will always be the HOLY SPIRIT. Somebody in person or online better give an “Amen” to that!


            What does the Holy Spirit tell Paul to tell Timothy? First, that there are a bunch of hypocritical liars in the church that need to be dealt with. The examples of hypocrisy that Paul raises are that these hypocrites forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods. The lie and the hypocrisy in this is that these people are forbidding what God is giving freely. They are forbidding what God has created. They are forbidding what should be received with thanksgiving. They do this by telling others in the church things that are not true. They lie.

            Specific to the church in Ephesus was that there were some saying that it was not okay to eat the meat that was sold in the markets in Ephesus because much of it had been sacrificed on the pagan altars within in the city. On top of this were the dietary restrictions of the Jewish converts, meaning they would not eat pork, bi-valves, meat cooked in milk, and that the meat that they did consume had been blessed as Kosher by a rabbi. Paul is pointing out to Timothy that all of these dietary instructions, according to what the Spirit is telling him, do not matter to God in heaven. God would rather have you fed with the goodness of God’s creation.

            Now, I recall some years ago taking a crew of exchange students from various countries to McDonalds. At the time McDonalds was offering its McRib sandwich. One of the students who was a Muslim wanted to order the McRib burger, stating that it was her new favorite. I had to stop her from ordering by asking, “I thought your faith prohibited eating pork?”

            “What it is pork?!” “Oh no, I have eaten so many times!” If you go to the McDonalds website, they actually designate the McRib as “restructured meat” made mostly of pork. Just the same, this young lady was upset and concerned. “Why don’t they say it is pork?” She asked.

            I just looked up at the sky and said, “I do not see God sending down any lightning bolts! I think you will survive.” I recommended, however, that she order some other kind of restructured meat product—I recall she ordered the McNuggets instead.

            Jesus himself says from Matthew 15: “11What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them." 12Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" 13He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." 15Peter said, "Explain the parable to us." 16"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts-murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them."


            Jesus seems to be saying, and the Holy Spirit through Paul’s writing is affirming, that we need a new set of instructions on how to be followers of Christ. The starting point of this new training is a very simply idea that comes from page one of the Bible: “Creation is good.” What God creates is just fine, thank you very much. Just receive God’s blessings with thanksgiving in your heart, and you will be fine.

            AND, if you find you cannot thank God for it, well then, it may not have come from God in the first place. I have, for instance, no problem thanking God for pizza and beer; however, I just cannot seem to say the same about the Covid 19 virus! It must not be from God. So, if you can thank god for it, then you can be relatively sure that it is a blessing from God in your life. So, thank God!


Let me just expound a little bit on verse two before we move on. Paul says here, that their “consciences will be seared as with a hot iron!” The word in the Greek for this searing of the conscience is the root word from which we get the term “caustic” in English. Some people do have “caustic consciences.” Please, please, do not ever let your faith become “caustic.”

Christianity should not be about our causing others to “feel the burn.” If it is about feeling the burn, then it should be about Bernie Sanders with his cute little knitted mittens that he wore at the Inauguration. Just a little bit of cute political humor! Don’t you dare make people think that they will burn in hell because they ate at McDonalds or some other restaurant. Don’t be caustic Christians! That kind of nonsense is hypocrisy. Jesus did not go around condemning people. He came to save. That is our calling. That is our instruction.

Let me be perfectly honest with you. I have seen a trend to put out political hate speech dressed up as “Christian prophecy.” If you are just publishing partisan attacks in the guise of Christian teaching, then remember that it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles! If nothing else, we can see how caustic words can and has set us our country on fire—false words of hate.


            Yes, Jesus came to save. To this end, Paul writes something at the end of this text that is also eye-opening when we actually take it seriously or even notice what he has written: (verse 10) “To this end we toil and struggle because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL PEOPLE, especially of those who believe.”

            So, Jesus came to save all people. Right? Not just the believers! Maybe “especially those who believe,” but that in no way excludes ALL PEOPLE. This is important for us to understand that even though we are not all the people of Waimea worshipping here this morning, this church is still for all people! Because Christ’s salvation is for all people.

            Two weeks ago there was a nationwide commemoration of the 400,000 deaths from Covid 19. Along with churches around the country, our little church rang its bell 400 times. Once for each one thousand lives lost. I know it is really hard to think about that. To date, luckily, nobody in our church has died from Covid. Why did we ring our bell? This church is here for all people—not just us!

            When the hospital calls and needs someone to pray with a dying man, I do not ask if he is a member. I just go. When kids who do not ever go to church show up at Bible Clubs, I do not ask if they have church membership with us. A few months back I saw a car stop right in front of our church and take a picture of the “Give thanks” banners that were flying right before Thanksgiving. I do not know who that person was, but the church had a message that he needed to see in that moment obviously. In terms of the Ed Center, what would you rather see? A place where kids can play in Christian company? Or a crack house with a bunch of drug dealers across from the school?

            The fact that this church is here in this community matters all whole bunch more than what our inner circle of worshippers might realize! Our Christian faith as a people of God matters even to those who will profess no faith. Jesus is the Savior of all people—and only just especially to those who believe. So, we are here for good! Thank God! So, when people see the building, or the flags, or the church on line, or see the help we give others, well, they will think about God. They might consider their own Salvation. They will for a moment be of good conscience again.