Studies from Timothy:- 9
IX. PRAYER FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS 1TIMOTHY 2: 4 – 7
By Nelson Thomas Mumbai
Introduction: - Paul reminds the important issues Timothy has to settle in Ephesus. He begins with public prayers, especially for the conversion of the unsaved. (2:1—8). He referred to the importance, various essential elements in prayer, the main points and the purposes. Why should we pray seriously for the salvation of souls?
1. For our own good.v.2b
2. For the pleasure of God. V. 3
3. For the fulfillment of God’s own will. V. 4.
Not only our prayers indirectly helps us, it’s something that God is very much pleased and considers as the best and fitting spiritual exercise from our part. Why does the Lord take our evangelistic prayer so seriously and finds delight in it? The third reason we considered only briefly in our last study. Prayers for the salvation of souls are fitting; for it is God’s own desire that all must be saved.
This desire of God for the salvation of sinful man must be something we ought to consider in detail. How carefully we take note of the desire of our dear ones and try our best help them fulfill it. That’s how we express our respect to them. Here Almighty God is longing, earnestly waiting that sinful, rebellious man may hear the gospel, repent and turn to Him. What should be response to such longing of God?
Notice, we see many other things also as God’s will for man.
- Our sanctification. 1 Thess4:3
- Our good deeds. 1Peter 2:15
- Our patience in suffering. 1Peter 3:17
- Our joy, prayer & thanksgiving. 1Thess 5:16 – 18
But the foremost one is salvation of man. All the above are applicable for the saved only. Whether it is for our own life or others, we ought to seriously consider this aspect of God’s desire for man. Notice similar ideas from other passages:-
- John 6:40:- Every one may have everlasting life.
- John 3:3:16:- Whoever believes may not perish.
- Ezek 33:11:- ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked’.
- 2Peter 3:9:- ‘Not willing any body should perish.’
Here, “…God our Savior who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Timothy 2:4).
So, if any one perishes, it is the result of their rejection of God’s gracious provision of salvation.
Response to God’s longing
What does the Lord expect us to do in response to this yearning of God? Remember, Paul doesn’t say, you go, preach or support etc. Certainly that is a good thing, but in this context he says you pray, which any believer can do relatively very easily. (Prayer itself is not so easy, there is a hard work involved in it. Cf. Colo 4:12 )
That’s what the Lord Jesus also told His disciples. cf. Matt. 9:37, 38. When He saw the multitude without a shepherd moved with compassion and tells the disciple, ‘truly the harvest is plenty, pray that the Lord of harvest may send more laborers.’
Are we concerned about this desire of God? Do we really consider this aspect at all? Do we have any idea about the unreached millions of our city, state or country? Do we know how many evangelists are there in this city or in this state? Have we ever noticed that there are many districts in this state where there is no local assembly or commended fulltime evangelist?
Workers together with God
Paul reminds us to make evangelistic prayer our priority for it is part of God’s plan and desire. How wonderful it is that when God desires to save sinners, before He does that we are called upon to pray. That is something we can not fully understand. God wants us to be co-workers with Him in this great task of evangelism. (1Cori 3:9a). It seems He does not want to save any one with out our involvement also in it through prayers. That means, souls are not being saved, because Christians do not intercede!
That vividly portrays our great responsibility in connection with evangelism or mission. May the Lord really touch our heart and mind to react positively to this call and be blessing for our land. Let us be mission minded believers, not simply satisfied in our own salvation and enjoy heavenly blessings. If we pray, definitely God will work, open ways, and even use us for His glory.
Knowledge of truth
“Come to the knowledge of the truth” – notice this sentence very carefully for it teaches two valuable lessons.
a. Before one can be saved, needs to know the truth.
- Cf. John 17:3 - know God and Christ whom He sent.
- John 8: 31, 32 – know the truth that can liberate him. Cf. John 14:6.
So, one has to come to Christ knowing the truth – truth presented in the word of God about him, his sin, and judgment he deserves etc. Also truth about Christ, His person, suffering, and resurrection etc. Without knowing such basic factors one can not be saved. The word of God makes it very clear that each will have to acknowledge these realities and confess their sins to the Lord. Then only that person can be forgiven, saved and given eternal life.
Today so many Christians think that simply by attending a Christian congregation, raising hands or signing a card one can get salvation. Some others present a story of heaven or hell and emotionally challenge the audience to escape hell and go to heaven but no word about the vital parts of the gospel truth – like sin, judgment, and atoning dearth of Christ etc. That kind of easy salvation has brought so many among the born again people of God, who are not actually been born of God, yet consider that they are very much part of the church of Christ.
Such misconception about salvation is not something we can simply overlook. It not only affects the quality of a local assembly, it actually affects destiny of those individuals. How sad it is, many learned & godly people do not consider it. That is an issue we need to discuss in detail, but not now!
b. Once saved, needs to grow in the knowledge of truth.
Even after salvation experience each Christian has to keep on knowing more of the truth presented in the word of God. That helps him to grow in Christ and continue to enjoy his freedom in Christ. Ignorance would keep us in bondage in one or other area in life. Knowledge always liberates us. Cf. Colo 1:10; 2Peter 3:18.
Our prayers promote this desire and plan of God that every one may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. It is our privilege to associate with God in His work through our prayers. Are we faithful?
4. No other God. V. 5a. “for there is one God…”
“For” – shows the remaining part is also supporting argument. What more compelling reasons to pray for the salvation of souls – evangelism or mission: Only one God. Through out the Bible we see similar statements. Cf.
• Duet. 6:4:- “The LORD our God, the LORD is one”.
• Isaiah 44:6:- “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.” Cf. v. 8; 40:18, 25, 26. The incomparable one.
• Mark 12:29:- “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear O Israel, the LORD our god, the LORD is one.” Ob. The Lord Himself quotes it.
• 1Cori 8:4c:- “there is no other God but one”.
• Eph 4:6a:- “one God and Father of all.”
All these versus and more make it evident that there is only one God. Then what about the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit? We understand that in the one Godhead three persons exists. We don’t have three different Gods, on the contrary, one God and three personalities. Of course it is not so easy for us to comprehend.
The word of God presents the Lord Jesus Christ as perfect God. We see all the essential qualities of God existing in Christ. His divine qualities, activities and even His claim reveal the deity of Christ. He did that which God alone can do. Cf. Luke 22:70; John 10: 30, 38; 12:45; 17:11, 22. In the same way Holy Spirit is perfect God, for the Spirit also does all that God alone does. Good to make a detailed study. Cf. 1John 5: 7.
What’s Paul’s main point here? He wants to say, ‘you must seriously pray for the salvation of others, because there is no other God, if there were many other gods, each ‘god’ would have cared for the salvation of their devotees, but none, so pray, only one God – who is our true and living God, the Creator”.
5. No other mediator. V. 5, 6a.
“One mediator between God and men the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself and ransom for all...”
‘Mediator’ is middle man, one who can stand between to and communicate with both. What is his role? Any issues takes place in between two, mediators settles it.
It was an old question of Job. “Nor is there any mediator between us, who lay his hand onus both.” Cf. Job 9:33. Down through the centuries many have asked this question, being burdened with their indwelling sin and guilty conscience. They knew they are at enmity with God because of their sin. Sin separated them from God and longed to be reconciled to Him somehow. Thus man longed for a mediator and even tried many other ways too like various rituals and gurus. But none could help man for he needs some one who can communicate with God and man at the same time.
Paul says, the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to such cry of man. He is the only mediator who can lay His hands on both God the Father and man and reconcile them to each other. It must be noticed that in those days some of the Gnostics used to say that there are many angelic beings between God and men, Christ is one among them. That’s a wrong teaching, Paul emphatically says, no other mediator other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
What makes Him qualified to be the only mediator. Three things are noteworthy here.
i. His perfect humanity. “The Man”. He is able to relate with man. He knows his state and the needs, of course except sin.
ii. His perfect divinity. “Christ” – He is the anointed one – the messiah. As perfect God He understands the demands of God. Thus He can be the perfect mediator between man and God.
iii His perfect sacrifice. “Gave Himself as a ransom for all”. ‘Ransom’ – is paid to release or set free some one who sold himself to another. The Lord paid the full cost that must be paid for our release from the bondage of sin and Satan. He gave His life itself as a ransom. Not just any other mode of payment. It was not by compulsion, but willingly He chose to suffer and die for mankind. Cf. Matt. 20:28; Luke 22:19; John 6:51; Eph 5:2, 25; Gal 6: 2:20. He bore the wrath of God that was supposed be poured upon man. 2Cori 5:21; 1Peter 2:24, 25.
And He paid it full and for all. Father accepted His sacrifice as sufficient for the redemption of all, irrespective of religion, race or region etc. Is there any other mediator who is so perfect and done a perfect work? How sad it is to note that when the word of God so explicitly speaks of one and only mediator, even some Christians say there are few others too, like Mary or other saints etc.
This is another reason why we should seriously pray for the salvation of souls, for there is no other redeemer; no other way of salvation for mankind. Act 4:12.
6. No other occasion. V. 6c
“To be testified in due time”. ‘Testified’ – be a witness to this truth-something based on experience, ‘no need to perish, Christ paid the full ransom, be free, He is your mediator etc’.
When to testify? ‘Due time’ – at the right time. God does everything at the right time. Not before or after. Cf. Gal 4:4; Rom 5:6 etc.
The message of the gospel, truth about our mediator and deliverance must reach the perishing souls today itself. Today is the day of salvation. Cf. 2Cori 6:1. It is the appointed time. Our duty is to present the way of salvation to the generation with whom we live.
Some Christians wait for their retirement to serve the Lord, their intention may be good, but remember by that time how many will perish with out hearing the truth. Today itself, with all our other activities we ought to find time as much as possible and testify to the truth of reconciliation. 2Cori 5:20.
Why should be intercede for the unbelievers because now is the correct time for them to hear the gospel and come to the saving knowledge of Christ.
7. No other person. V. 7.
“For which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle – I am speaking the truth in Christ and lying – a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
Notice, how quickly Paul acknowledges his role in this great task of evangelism. He is sure, God has appointed him.
a. As a preacher. Herald, to announce a royal message. To declare, publicly that every one may hear and respond.
b. As an apostle. Not just a herald, but sent with more authority & responsibility to establish local churches in the entire world and do the needful follow-up. “Speaking truth” – ob. Though Timothy knows about his apostleship, as the letter is being read publicly the listeners may be sure of it. Elsewhere some denied his apostleship, wants to remove any doubt.
c. As a teacher. To expound the word of God in a simple way, so that all can understand it easily. ‘Faith’ to believe. ‘Truth’ to build on –doctrine.
Paul was aware of God’s plan for him. Listen what he says to Corinthians about his burden as well as obligation to make known the way of salvation. “If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me: Yes, woe unto me if I don’t preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will I have been entrusted with a stewardship.” 1Cori 9: 16, 17.
Are we aware of this fact that we are bound to preach the gospel to the perishing souls around us? Why should we pray for the unreached men and women, because there is nobody else to do, we who live in this generation are supposed to do. God has entrusted this work to us who live in a particular place at a particular time of history. If we do not do, who else will testify to the people around us?
Let us seriously ponder over this truth and fulfill our responsibility before too late. Some how be a channel of communicating the good news.
Why should we pray for the conversion of unbelievers / mission / evangelistic activities?
1. For our own good.v.2b – indirectly helps us.
2. For the pleasure of God. V. 3 – God is pleased in it.
3. For the fulfillment of God’s own will. V. 4. – He desires the salvation of all.
4. No other God. V. 5a. – Who might plan for the salvation of other people groups.
5. No other occasion. V. 6c – Today is the right time.
6. No other person. V. 7. – You are the divinely appointed person – entrusted the work.
What is your role in mission? Recently a young missionary from Canada serving in an East Asian country challenged a group of Indian believers. “My question to you”, he said, “I have come all the way from Canada, why can’t you go to this place, where the culture and language are very much similar to you?”
Take it as a challenge. The Lord is still calling, “whom shall I send, who will go for me”. Will you go? At the least PRAY. Be informed to pray intelligently. Then get involved as the Lord leads.
Next:- IX. Pre-requisites for true prayer
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