Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
Map to the Church
With Jesus in the Storm
The Almost Christian
Walking in Truth
Fear Not, For I Am With You
Keep Your Heart
Principles for Spiritual Health
Prayer for the Sinning Brother
The Witness of God
By This We Know
Behold, The Day!
Baptized Into Christ Jesus
Perfect Love Casts Out Fear
The Fruit of the Spirit
God's Love Made Complete
Reasons for Love
Test the Spirits
Making the Bitter Times Sweet
For He Is Good!
The Assurance That Comes from Love
Passing the Tests of Love
Death of the Cross
Sermon Message: Fellowship
in the Light
and the World
News That Changes Lives
Sermon Message: O
Worship the King
"The 'Ultimate Purpose' of Freedom"
1 Timothy 2:1-8
Theme: Our freedom as Americans finds its highest purpose in being of
use to the spreading of Gospel of Jesus Christ.
(A message delivered at Heritage Christian School for
"Christian Heritage Week" on November 13, 2002. All Scripture
quotes are taken from the New International Version, 1978, New York International
A. As Americans, we enjoy more freedom than the people of any other nation
in the world. We should always be thankful that God has given us this
great heritage of liberty. But have you ever asked yourself what the "purpose"
of that freedom is? If you were to ask the average person in America -
in the midst of all this freedom - what they thought the 'ultimate purpose'
of that freedom might be, I'd bet you'd get a lot of different of answers.
1. Some would find the 'ultimate purpose' of our freedom in the Declaration
of Independence. They'd read where it says, "We hold these truths to
be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from
the consent of the governed ... And they'd say, "There it is! The 'ultimate
purpose' of my freedom as an American is to pursue what I believe to
be life, liberty and happiness for myself and my family." In as much
as that pursuit is an honorable one, that certainly is a great thing
to celebrate about our freedom; but is it the 'ultimate purpose' of
it? Would God agree that that was why He gave it to us?
2. Others would say something even more noble. They'd look into the
future and say, "The 'ultimate purpose' of my freedom as an American
is found in my being able to pass on a secure heritage to the next generation.
I must use the freedom I have been given wisely, so I can protect it
and pass it on to future generations. It's my duty to make sure that
they will grow up free - just like me; and to protect their ability
to pursue what they believe to be life, liberty and happiness." That's
certainly honorable, and a great motivation to protect the freedom we
enjoy; but again I ask - is it what God would say is the 'ultimate purpose'
of our freedom He has given us?
3. Others - I suspect MOST people today - would say, "The 'ultimate
purpose' of my freedom as an American is that it gives me the right
to say whatever I want to say, or be whatever I want to be, or do whatever
I want to do, whenever I want to do it, without anyone telling me I
can't or shouldn't." For such people, 'freedom' doesn't so much freedom
from a dictator, or a king, or a political tyranny. For them, 'freedom'
means being free from the moral law of God and moral obligation toward
fellow human beings. I'm sure you'd agree with me that that's a very,
very low idea of the 'ultimate purpose' for our freedom. People who
believe that really do little more than squander and abuse their freedom
- and perhaps even tempt God to take it away from them.
B. So what would God say? How would God answer that question? What would
He say is the 'ultimate purpose' of our freedom as Americans? I believe
that we can understand the answer by getting to understand the reason
God gives us for why He created all the nations. And His purpose for creating
all the nations is found for us in Acts 17.
1. In Acts 17, the greatest missionary the world has ever known, the
Apostle Paul, was in the city of Athens waiting for some of his co-workers
to join him in his missionary journey. While in this famous cultural
center of the Greek world, his spirit was troubled and burdened over
the horrible idolatry that he saw everywhere he looked. The people of
Athens almost had more gods to worship than they had people to do the
worshiping! In fact, they had altars to gods they didn't even know.
2. And so; while waiting for these co-workers to arrive, Paul began
to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ right in the marketplaces and streets
of Athens. It really caused a commotion; and an official committee of
community leaders and thinkers called Paul to appear before them and
explain what it was he was teaching. He told them;
Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For
as I walked around and observed your objects of worship, I even found
an alter with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship
as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you (Acts 17:22-23).
3. He then began to tell them all about this "God" that they worshiped
in ignorance. As I read what he says, listen and you'll hear the reason
he gives for why God created the nations - including the United States
of America - and a clue to what the 'ultimate purpose' of our freedom
as Americans really is. Paul says,
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of
heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he
is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself
gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made
every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he
determined the times set for them and the exact place where they should
live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out
for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us (vv.
4. Do you see how the purpose of the nations is expressed? Paul tells
the Athenians that the sovereign God of the ages allowed the nations
to be formed, and determined the times of their existence and the extent
of their borders in advance, for the purpose that the people of those
nations would seek Him and find Him. And it wasn't that God wants to
playing games with people and hide from them so they had to hunt around
and try to find Him. Pointing to all the idols and temples to false
gods, Paul goes on to say,
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands
all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge
the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof
of this to all men by raising him from the dead (vv. 30-31).
C. So then; God has permitted the United States of America to come into
existence, under the providence of His sovereign hand, for the same ultimate
purpose He has permitted every other nation to come into existence: so
that the lost, sinful, dying people of this world could seek God, reach
out for Him and, by God's mercy and grace, at last find Him by placing
their faith in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Thus, the people
of these earthly kingdoms could live forever with Him in His heavenly
1. The United States of America is, historically, a nation uniquely
suited to this great purpose because its system of government allows
its citizens the greatest political freedom.
2. And so, if someone should ask, "What is the 'ultimate purpose' for
the existence of the United States of America?", I believe the most
biblical answer - the one that God Himself would give - is that its
ultimate and greatest purpose is as a tool in the hand of a very gracious
and merciful God to lead people to find Him and have a relationship
with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. And the 'ultimate purpose' of
our freedom as Americans flows from God's 'ultimate purpose' for our
nation. Our freedom is a tool in God's hand to help advance the spread
of the Gospel message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
D. Now this would probably seem like a really radical idea to many people
today. But the fact is that God didn't permitted America to come into
existence with the intention that it be an earthly kingdom that lasts
forever. He didn't allow the United States to come into existence as an
end in and of itself. Rather, He permitted it it to exist, ultimately,
be a tool to help populate heaven. That is the 'ultimate purpose' of the
political freedom we enjoy as Americans. Ten thousands times ten thousands
of centuries from now, the only real value of the freedom we enjoy as
Americans today will be in how that freedom was used in spreading the
Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who will be in heaven then.
This being true, what then would God want us to do with the freedoms
we enjoy? Once again, the Bible tells us. If you'll look with me at 1
Timothy 2:1-8, you'll see that God wants us to pray for the protection
and advancement of our freedom, and live in a godly way in it, so that
it advances the proclamation of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As we look at this passage, let's consider some of the principles it
teaches us about the ultimate purpose of our freedom as citizens of the
United States of America. First, we can see that ...
I. GOD WANTS US TO PRAY FOR THE PROTECTION AND ADVANCEMENT OF FREEDOM
IN AMERICA (vv. 1-3).
A. 1 Timothy is a letter containing instructions that Paul wrote to
a young pastor of the church of Ephesus. I like Timothy. He was a young
pastor, and apparently a little 'timid'; and Paul had to write and encourage
Timothy to grab ahold of his work of the ministry and do it boldly (1
Tim. 4:12-16; 2 Tim. 4:5). Just as Paul himself had been given by God
the task of proclaiming and defending the Good News of Christ, Paul
entrusted this same Gospel task to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:18). And while
writing to encourage Timothy to do his work as a faithful pastor, Paul
said, in 1 Tim. 2:1-8;
I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions
and thanksgivings be made for everyone - for kings and all those in
authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness
and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior (vv. 1-3).
B. Paul had a lot of things he wanted to urge Timothy to do in this
letter; but the thing he wanted to urge him to do "first of all" - that
is, as a matter of highest importance - was to see to it that the church
he served was a praying church; a church that was praying about some
very specific things. Notice the three things he says about the prayer
ministry he was urging upon Timothy:
1. First, notice HOW he urges them to pray.
a. He mentions four kinds of prayer.
i. He mentions "requests," which involved specific prayers
for the meeting of specific needs.
ii. Then Paul used the general, all-purpose word "prayers",
that is, prayers directed toward God in worship and reverence.
iii. Then, he calls for "intercessions"; which also involves
the idea of specific requests, but has the particular focus of
the needs of other people.
iv. And finally, Paul urges "thanksgiving". Whatever our need
or circumstance, we should always express our trust and confidence
in God's goodness by giving Him thanks.
b. When Paul mentioned these different types of prayer, he wasn't
trying to say, "Make sure everyone prays in exactly these four ways,
Timothy." Rather, Paul's point was, "Make sure that prayer is going
on - in all ways and all manners of prayer."
2. Second, notice FOR WHOM he urges them to pray.
a. Three groups are mentioned.
i. "Everyone" is to be prayed for. This would refer to all the
other people - other citizens - of the nations in which the Christians
were living, whether those other citizens were Christians or not.
ii. Then, "kings" are specified for prayer; that is, the rulers
or ruling body over the kingdom.
iii. And below these where "all those in authority" - that is
the ruler's aids, advisors, and subordinates.
b. In other words, Paul wrote to Timothy to urge that the church
be praying for those who were in political offices or in positions
of power - those on whose shoulders God had entrusted the responsibility
of governing the nation - with requests, prayers, intercessions,
and thanksgiving. And the church is to be praying for its fellow
citizens as well.
3. Now let's face it; that can sometimes be hard to do. Some rulers
rule very badly, unethically or carelessly. Some rulers create a hostile
environment and stir unrest among their people. Some rulers even openly
and maliciously persecute Christians. But God doesn't say only to
pray for the good rulers and politicians, the honest ones or the kind
ones. In fact, notice thirdly why he urges such prayer: "that we may
live peaceful and quite lives in all godliness and holiness". In other
words the church is to pray that it will have "political freedom"
so that it wont be hindered in ministry by hostile forces or a chaotic
political environment, and so that its people could live the godly,
Christ-like lives they should.
C. And Paul says that "this" -- that is, such prayer for those in political
power for such a purpose - "is good, and pleases God our Savior ..."
D. Just think, then, about the valuable role we as God's people play
in the health and well-being of our nation! In heaven's perspective,
there is no "wall of separation" between Church and State. There's no
wall mankind can erect to separate God from anything! Church and State
may be distinct institutions - and they should be kept distinct. But
just as the government has a duty to protect the peace and security
of all it's citizens - including Christians, the Church has a duty to
perform to the government. God's command is for us, as Christians living
in America, to move His mighty hand of influence and blessing upon our
nation by faithfully praying for its government and its leaders.
Did you notice how this has God's approval? Paul said that this is "good,
and pleases God our Savior ..." This is something God wants us to do.
Why? As we read on, we see that ...
II. SUCH A PRAYER IS ACCEPTABLE TO GOD BECAUSE IT MAKES IT SO THAT THE
GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST CAN SPREAD TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE (vv. 4-8).
A. A commitment to pray for our nation is good and acceptable to God
because it helps us focus on what is important to God. Notice that Paul
stresses that God is "our Savior". God's great concern isn't for human
governments as an end in and of themselves. His concern is that our
temporal government, and the political freedoms it protects, helps make
the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ possible, which will save people
from their sins and makes them live forever. You can plainly tell that
this is God's concern by what Paul says next. He speaks of what is "good,
and pleases God our Savior" ...
... who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of
the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all men - the testimony
given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald
and an apostle - I am telling the truth, I am not lying - a teacher
of the true faith to the Gentiles. I want men everywhere to lift up
holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing (vv. 4-8).
B. We're to pray that God would protect our freedom as Americans, and
for our government and its leaders - "that we may live peaceful and
quite lives in all godliness and holiness" - ULTIMATELY so the Gospel
will have the greatest freedom to spread and change people's lives through
the ministry of the Church on earth. Notice how Paul goes on to explain
why such prayer for our government and its leaders is "good, and pleases
God our Savior ..."
1. First, notice that it's God's expressed desire that all people
be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Obviously, not everyone
does. (Personally, I believe in the great mystery of God's sovereignty
when it comes to salvation; that is, that all those He has chosen
for salvation from the beginning, in the secret councils of His eternal
wisdom, do inevitably trust Jesus as their Savior and are saved.)
But nevertheless, it's God's expressed, compassionate desire that
no one be lost -- that all people be saved. He excludes no one from
the opportunity. God is patient, as Peter says, "not wanting anyone
to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).
2. Second, notice that God wants His saving message of the Gospel
to be made known to all people. He wants evangelism and missions to
happen. You can see how Paul stresses this to us in this passage.
a. First, Paul says that there's ONLY ONE GOD. There aren't many
gods, as the people of Athens believed. Nor is there 'no God', as
many believe today. Just as it's asserted in the great Jewish declaration
of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5; "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our
God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength." There is one
God -- and only one! It's the obligation of all people, everywhere,
to worship and serve the one true God who made them.
b. This same God made people to have fellowship with Him; but sin
has separated sinful people from their holy Creator. And so, second,
Paul says there's ONLY ONE MEDIATOR that stands between God and
sinful, fallen mankind: there is "... one mediator between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus." There's not many "mediators" - such
as the saints, or Mary, or the angels. There aren't many "saviors"
and many roads to God. There's only one; just as it says in Acts
4:12 about Jesus: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there
is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved".
c. Third, there's ONLY ONE SACRIFICE given to make it possible
for people to have their sins forgiven before the one true God.
There aren't many different ways of atoning for sins committed against
God. There aren't many 'ransoms'. Paul says of this Jesus that he
"gave himself as a ransom for all men". Just like it says in what
is perhaps the best known verse of the Bible; For God so loved the
world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in
him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
d. Fourth, there's ONLY ONE MESSAGE that leads people to salvation.
There isn't any other Gospel message for the world from God, but
the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone. Paul said that Jesus gave Himself
as a ransom for all, "the testimony given in its proper time". God
created the nations of the world so that people might seek after
Him; and when the time was right, He sent His Son to die on a cross
for the sins of the world, and then sent the message of that sacrifice
everywhere - organizing and laying out those nations just as He
wished, so that the Gospel would spread around the world throughout
the unfolding centuries. God's message to all people everywhere
since then is the same. It is that message which was preached by
Jesus Himself - "The time has come ... The kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15).
e. So; there's only one God, only one Mediator, only one Sacrifice,
and only one Message. But notice, finally, that there needs to be
AN ONGOING DECLARATION of these things to all people of world. It
is sometimes said of Paul that he made all this up, and that he
was trying to exalt himself. But he emphasizes his own commission
from God to preach the Gospel when he says, "And for this purpose
I was appointed a herald and an apostle - I am telling the truth,
I am not lying - and a teacher of the truth faith to the Gentiles."
It's just as Paul said elsewhere, "How, then, can they call on the
one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one
of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone
preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring
good news!" (Romans 10:14-15).
3. Hopefully now, you can see that God's desire for the salvation
of the people of the world, and His will that the saving message be
sent out throughout the world, leads us thirdly to God's mandate of
prayer for our nation's freedom.
a. God's great interest is that people be saved and dwell with
Him in heaven for eternity. That's what He is most concerned about.
And He has made that salvation possible through the sacrifice of
His Son. God is concerned that the Gospel of Jesus Christ be declared
and have the greatest possible opportunity to spread and be heard
b. We're to pray, then, for a good government with good leaders
and a good citizenry -not just so we can have it easy, but that
we can live holy, godly lives, and so that the Gospel can spread
unhindered. And so; Paul says, "I want men everywhere to lift up
holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing" (v. 8).
I'm grateful to God for the freedom I enjoy as an American; aren't you?
That freedom ought to be celebrated by us; and we ought to give thanks
to God for it. But we need to remember that the 'ultimate purpose' of
that freedom isn't found in anything on earth. It isn't found in whether
or not we're able to pursue the good life. It isn't found in whether or
not we secure the good life for others. As important as those things are,
they're only, at best, of value for a short while - only until it comes
time to leave this world and enter into our eternal destiny.
A few years ago, I was in Los Angeles, attending a national gathering
of Christians all across the country to fast and pray for America. And
during that gathering, we were given some news that greatly humbled us.
We were told that only eleven hours prior to our time there, a similar
gathering had occurred in the former Soviet Union. Our brothers and sisters
in Christ living there had gathered to pray for America. They were praying
for our nation because they believed that America - because of all the
political freedoms it has been given by God - was still the great hope
of the world for the spread of the Gospel.
Measured in terms of eternity - measured from God's perspective - the
real value of our freedom as Americans is found ultimately in how that
freedom is used to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christians, who
hold a 'dual citizenship' - for a while in the United States; and then,
for eternity, in heaven - we're urged to value and pray for the protection
of our precious political freedoms, with the end in mind of seeing the
Gospel of Jesus Christ have the greatest opportunity to spread and transform
the lives of as many people as possible - to the eternal praise of God's
grace. May God help us with this great responsibility with which we have
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