This is the first in a series of posts from John Lanferman out of the book of 1 Timothy.
Paul establishes that faith is a “good fight” in two key passages found in his first letter to Timothy. In chapter 1, Paul seems to address the issue of personal or subjective faith whereby Timothy is to not lose heart but keep believing God, to believe what God has spoken to him through prophecy (1 Timothy 1:18,19). Paul also addresses objective faith as it pertains to “the faith” that is to be guarded (1 Timothy 6:12).
The battle before us today is both a battle to personally believe God in the face of contrary realities that tempt toward doubt and secondly to keep “the faith.”
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12, ESV)
One aspect of the battle is to not move away from the gospel and centrality of Christ. The aging Paul sends this letter to a young leader, Paul’s spiritual and gifted “son”, Timothy. Timothy had been assigned by Paul to lead the church at Ephesus, a church being threatened by influences of the day. The book of Timothy is a Leadership Manual.
Paul instructs him in this lifestyle of “fighting.” Timothy would be aware of Paul’s apostolic doctrine, passion for mission, his passion for the Holy Spirit, church and grace and freedom in Christ, of one new man in Christ. Timothy would also know of Paul’s life and practice. Paul had given things to Timothy that he expected would continue to be passed on in his absence to other faithful men.
Empowering young leaders with truth
One of the great characteristics of Paul’s many-sided life was his interest in youth. Paul manifested an abiding interest in young people. His earlier impatience with Mark has given way and he now excelled as a spiritual father as evidenced in his two letters to Timothy, the young preacher.
Paul gives Timothy instruction regarding some of these issues. The central theme in this battle is the gospel and a pure faith in this gospel that is to be fought for. The young leader was to avoid the temptation of getting off track by any alternative to genuine faith. True faith impacts a variety of church issues, including worship, doctrine and practice, prayer, leadership development, order and practice within the church and the leader’s own personal life of conduct.
Paul instructs Timothy regarding things to flee, to pursue and to fight for. He gives him a challenge to fight the good fight of the faith in the face of so many competing alternatives to faith. Today we face several challenges to “the faith” that we hold. We too are called to “fight the good fight” of faith in our generation….