Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto his spiritual son and fellow labourer in the work of the kingdom, Timothy. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eleven verses of the fifth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of this first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy you will find that what he writes in the opening verse is completely different from what is contained in verses two through eleven. As you read the words which the apostle wrote unto Timothy you will find that he exhorts and instructs him not to rebuke an elder, but rather to treat him as a father. This is only a portion of what we find and read in this first verse, for you will find the apostle going on to write about the younger men, the elder women, as well as the younger women. Within this particular verse the apostle Paul sets forth four distinct groups of individuals within the house of the Lord and how Timothy should respond toward and treat them. If you read the words which the apostle Paul writes unto Timothy you will find the apostle instructing him not to rebuke an elder, but rather to entreat him as a father. Similarly and conversely, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to treat the younger men within the church as brothers, as well as the young women in the church as sisters. Moreover the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to treat the elder women as mothers. It is actually quite interesting and astonishing the way the apostle Paul uses the words which are found and recorded in this passage, for the language he uses seems to to distinguish the various groups of men and women within the church—not only as parts of the body of Christ, but also as something much deeper, which is in all reality a family made up of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. With these words the apostle Paul clearly instructs Timothy to look upon those around him within the church as brothers and sisters, and as mothers and fathers in Christ and in the faith—a reality which we would continually do well to recognize and understand.
When you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy—particularly what is found in this first verse—you will find the apostle speaking go a reality which is so far beyond the comprehension of what we are used to when we think of and refer to the church. What begins as the apostle Paul providing instruction not to rebuke the elders, but to entreat them as fathers in the faith would carry on and continue into the apostle Paul speaking of how he treats the elder women of the church, as well as the younger men and younger sisters. I feel the tremendous need to pause for a moment and shine a tremendous amount of light onto the reality of what we find and read within this passage of scripture, for within this verse is something that has the power to dramatically and radically alter and transform our relationships to those among us within the body of Christ. As I read and meditate upon the words which are contained within the first verse of this chapter I am struck by the tremendous reality of how we view those among us and those around us within the house of the Lord. It might very well be true that we are members of the body of Christ and that our many members make up one body in Christ. We might be aware that we are the bride of Christ, and that we have been espoused to Christ as a chaste virgin without spit or wrinkle. It is also true that we might recognize and understand that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we are carriers of the presence of the eternal Spirit. With that being said we must also recognize that what we find in the church—and not just in the particular house of worship we attend regularly, but the entirety of the body of Christ—is that we are a family. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you came to church and recognized it—not so much as a gathering of people in general, but rather as a gathering of family members? What’s more, is that while it is true that we are many different members, yet we make up one singular body. With that being said—while we are many different brothers and sisters, many different mothers and fathers, we are one family of God in Christ by the Holy Spirit.
I absolutely love the words which the apostle Paul writes in this first verse, for within this verse we find the apostle Paul bringing Timothy face to face with the reality that those around him within the church are more than just a collective group of individuals, but are something far beyond his comprehension. We dare not miss or lose sight of the fact that when we gather together in the name of Jesus Christ and in the presence of the Holy Spirit before the Father of lights, we do so as sons and daughters of the living God. I must pause for a moment here and declare that directly linked and connected to this mystery is another mystery—one which the apostle John touched upon when beginning to write his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. If you turn and direct your attention to the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find that John declares that as many as believed on and in Christ—those He gave power to be sons [and daughters] of the living God. What we are first and foremost in the earth is a people made up of sons and daughters of the living God. Regardless of status, stature, tenure, position, title, rank and the like, we are first and foremost sons and daughters of the living God. We do ourselves a great disservice when we allow ourselves to become so jaded by who and what we have become that we lose sight of the reality that we are first and foremost sons and daughters. We must recognize and understand that while it is true that Jesus did in fact declare that we would be endowed with power from on high to be witnesses, it was first written and recorded that we have been given power to be sons and daughters. The danger lies when we neglect and lose sight of the reality that the greatest power given unto us in this generation is not the generation which places us before men as witnesses and the like, but in the tremendous power that was given unto us to become sons and daughters. One of the greatest realities about the New Testament is that when the Father sought to perform His greatest work in the earth, He sent not prophets and priests, but sent a Son—His only eternal and begotten Son in whom He is well pleased. When the Father wanted to accomplish His greatest work within the earth He sent not prophets, He sent not earthly kings, He sent not earthly rulers, He sent not earthly priests, but rather, He sent His only begotten Son in whom He was well pleased. There is within this particular concept a divine mystery—namely, that in this generation and in these Last Days, that which the Father desires to raise up and release within the earth is not a batch of well-polished prophets, priests, and the like; but rather, the Father desires to send forth into the earth a powerful company of sons and daughters who carry out the divine will and purpose of the Father.
There is powerful language concerning this reality and concept of the Father sending forth His Son into the earth in order that He might fulfill and accomplish His divine purpose and work among men. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find the apostle writing and recording the words which Jesus spoke unto the Jews when they sought all the more to kill Him. Consider if you will the words which are recorded for us in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John beginning with the eighteenth verse: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath send Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in HImnelf; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself;f and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and He bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in His light. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father Himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me” (John 5:18-37).
It is absolutely incredible and tremendously powerful to read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus who is the Christ and Lord declaring even further and all the more that He was in fact the eternal Son of God. In all reality, this was expressed very early on in His public manifestation within the earth, for when He emerged from the waters of the Jordan River the Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, the heavens were opened, and a voice proceeded forth from heaven declaring, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am will pleased.” There might be those of you who are reading the words which are contained within this writing who might not recognize or understand why I would choose to include the reality of Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God, as well as the Father seeking to accomplish His greatest work by sending forth His only Son into the earth. The answer for this is actually quite simple, for one of the greatest truths the Son taught us is that we too were sons and daughters of the eternal Father. While it was true that Jesus Christ Himself was the eternal Son of the Father, it is also true that we who are born of the Spirit and of the water have been given power to become sons and daughters of the living God. Consider if you will the exact words which the apostle John wrote in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of the life and ministry of Jesus: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12). Within this particular verse the apostle John not only declares that those who received Christ were given power to become the sons of God, but those who received Christ were also those who believed on His name. What’s more, is when you come to the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find Jesus setting forth a specific pattern of prayer which we are to come before the Father when we enter into our secret closet and shut the door behind us. It is absolutely incredible that directly at the beginning of this prayer are two words which are absolutely and incredibly powerful when you consider them in light of your own personal relationship with the Father—namely, that our Lord opens and begins this prayer with the words “Our Father.”
By opening up this particular prayer with these words Jesus directly connects us to Himself as the eternal Son of God, and joins us together with Him as one family before God in Himself through the power and person of the Spirit. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of Rome in the eighth chapter of the epistle sent unto them:
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:12-17).
Within this particular portion of Scripture the apostle Paul emphatically writes and declares that as many as are led by the Spirit of God—these are the sons of God. Please don’t miss or lose sight of the tremendous significance of that which is found and contained within this passage of Scripture, for the apostle Paul is clearly setting forth a reality which must be understood and carried out be each and every saint and disciples within the body alike. The apostle Paul clearly sets forth the reality that as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are in fact the sons of God. Thus, that which the apostle Paul does is bring us face to face with the fact that if we are led by the Spirit of God in every area of our lives each and every day, we are in fact the sons of God. What’s more, is the apostle Paul goes on to write that we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Furthermore, the apostle Paul goes on to write that the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Because we are children of God, we are heirs, and because we are heirs, we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Oh, please don’t miss that which the apostle Paul is writing unto the saints of Rome within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul not only writes and declares that we are the sons of God if we are led by the Spirit, but the apostle Paul also declares that the Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are in fact the children of God, and that we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption. How absolutely incredible is it that not only have we been given power to become the sons of God, but the Spirit also bears witness with our spirit that we are indeed the children of God. If and since we are the children of God, we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Thus, that which the Father desired to establish within the earth was something much greater than titles, ranks, statuses, stature, positions, and the like. That which the Father sought to establish in the earth was first established in and through His eternal Son. When Jesus Christ came to the earth He came as the firstborn of many sons and daughters within the earth, for He was the eternal Son sent to the earth to raise up and establish many more sons and daughters. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches of Galatia beginning with the first verse of the fourth chapter of the epistle:
“Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, different nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art not more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ, Howbeit, then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage:? Ye observe days, and Kong’s, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Galatians 4:1-11).
The more I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the various churches the more I am increasingly convinced that we are first and foremost sons and daughters of the eternal and living God. It is very easy to get caught up in title, in position, in rank, in status, in office, and anything and everything we feel matters in the light of eternity, however, the single greatest title we can bear within the earth is that of being a son and/or daughter of God. Within the earth we are first and foremost a son and a daughter of the eternal Father who is in heaven, and we have been given power to become sons according to the measure as we have received Christ and have believed on His name. What’s more, is the Father has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, whereby we can cry out together with Jesus, saying, “Abba, Father.” Within the fourth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the churches of Galatia the apostle Paul picks up on something which Jesus had spoken unto His disciples while in the upper room after He had taken upon Himself the form of a servant and washed their feet. There in the Upper Room Jesus made the following declaration unto His disciples: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it to you” (John 15:13-16). Jesus Christ declared unto His disciples that He no longer called them servants, but called them friends, and when the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia he declared that we are no longer a servant, but a son—and if a Son, than an heir of God through Christ. How absolutely incredible it is that not only did Jesus declare unto His disciples that He no longer called them servants, but called them friends, and the apostle Paul declared that we as the saints of God are no longer a servant, but a son. In all reality, I am convinced that the two greatest realities we can demonstrate and manifest within the earth is first and foremost being a son [and daughter] of the Father, but also being a friend of God and a friend of Christ. Abraham was called and known as “the friend of God,” and unto the disciples Jesus declared that He no longer called them servants, but friends. As friends, they would listen to what He would speak, and would do whatsoever He command and instructed them.
I feel it necessary to bring your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth, for within this particular passage of Scripture the apostle Paul spoke unto them concerning the mystery of the body of Christ, and how the body of Christ was made and comprised within the earth. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints of God which were at Corinth beginning with the twelfth verse of the twelfth chapter: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We dare not lose sight of that which the apostle Paul is stating unto the Corinthian congregation with these words, for with these words the apostle Paul is emphatically declaring unto these saints that even though we are many members within the body, each of our individual members make up the one body of Christ within the earth. What’s more, is that while it is true that we might be different from those around us, we are fitly joined together to form and make one body in Christ within the earth. While each and every one of us are different from the other, we are joined together in Christ as one body, which is comprised and made up of many members. It’s imperative that we recognize and understand this concept, for understanding this concept can and will radically and dramatically alter our place within the body of Christ and among its members.
I am utterly and completely convinced that first and foremost, we are sons and daughters of the living God, and because we are sons and daughters, we are no longer servants and slaves again to fear. There is a new and different Spirit which has been released into our hearts whereby we together with Jesus who is the Christ cry out unto God, saying, “Abba, Father.” With this being said, it is necessary that we recognize and understand that when we gather together with other believers and disciples of Jesus Christ within the church, we are first and foremost a gathering together of sons and daughters. What’s more, is that while it is true we are sons and daughters of the living God, we are brothers and sisters within the body of Christ. I can’t help but think about how drastically and how dramatically our place within the body would change if we recognized that we are a body made up of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. When the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this first epistle, the apostle Paul instructed him not to rebuke an elder, but to intreat him as a father. What’s more, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy to intreat younger men as brethren, the elder women as mothers, and the younger as sisters, with all purity. Oh, what would happen if we began viewing the younger men among us within the house of the Lord as brothers, and as those who are joint-heirs together with us in Christ Jesus? What would happen if we began viewing the younger women within the house of the Lord as sisters in Christ, and did so with all purity? What would happen if we began viewing the elder men within the church as fathers, and the elder women in the church as mothers? While it is true that we are one body made up of many members, that body is made up of and comprised of brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto the saints which were at Corinth: “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech your be ye followers of me” (1 Corinthians 4:14-16). With these words the apostle Paul clearly sets forth the reality that it is possible within the body of Christ to have ten thousand instructors, and yet not have many fathers. With these words the apostle Paul clearly sets forth the difference between instructors and tutors in Christ, and fathers in Christ. In all reality, I am convinced that one of the greatest needs that is found and manifested within the body of Christ is not necessarily instructors, and teachers, and tutors, but rather fathers in Christ. The apostle Paul clearly sets forth within this passage of Scripture that there is a tremendous need within the body of Christ for fathers to rise up within the body of Christ, and to step into their role of influence among the members of the body of Christ.
When we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the fifth chapter of this first epistle we are confronted with the concept of elder men as fathers, elder women as mothers, younger men as brethren, and younger women as sisters, thus bringing us face to face with the reality and concept of the body of Christ as something much more than simply that which we are aware of. Within this particular passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul bringing Timothy face to face with the reality that within the body of Christ and within the church is the presence of fathers and mothers, as well as sons and daughters. Oh, I am convinced that our relationships within the body of Christ would be radically altered and transformed if we began looking upon those around us—not merely as other persons, but rather as brothers and sisters. Pause for a moment and consider how differently your relationships with the women of the church would change if you viewed and treated them as sisters and mothers rather than simply as women. Pause for a moment and consider how differently your relationships with the men of the church would change if you began viewing and treating them as brothers and fathers rather than simply as men within the body of Christ. I have to admit that I am absolutely and incredibly challenged with and by the words which I find and read in this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we are confronted with how we treat and how we view men and women within the body of Christ. This particular passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the reality of how we view and how we treat those among us and those around us within the body of Christ—treating them as sisters and mothers, as brothers and fathers. Consider the relationship you have with your brother(s) and/or sister(s) and consider how you interact with and treat them. Consider the relationship you have with your mother and/or your father, and how you treat them. What I so love about that which is found within this single verse is that within the body we have the ability to find that which perhaps we did not have in the natural. It may very well be possible that our mother or our father walked out on and abandoned us, and as a direct result we have been left with a huge hole within our heart and soul. It may be that we lost a brother or a sister in an untimely manner, or perhaps never had a brother or sister. What I so love about the body of Christ is that within the body of Christ there is absolutely nothing lacking—nothing that we have ever needed, wanted or desired. I absolutely love that within the body of Christ we can find absolutely everything we have ever lacked and needed, just as surely as in Christ we find everything we have ever wanted. IN CHRIST WE FIND EVERYTHING WE’VE EVER WANTED! IN THE BODY OF CHRIST WE FIND EVERYTHING WE’VE NEVER HAD! The Father has set forth in the body of Christ brothers and sisters in order that we might experience that reality and that manifestation within our lives, and the Father has set forth in the body of Christ fathers and mothers in order that we might experience that reality and manifestation which we have never had within our hearts and lives. Oh that we would recognize and understand this reality, and that we would truly respond to what we have before us within the body of Christ—that which we may have never had before, yet have always longed for and desperately wanted.