The Second Sunday of Advent December 10, 2006
1 Timothy 6:11-16
68, 69, 17, 447(1,4)
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus, our Lord:
Who seems more like a king—Prince Charles or his son, Prince William? Most people choose Prince William because Charles does not seem to have “it.” He does not seem to have a regal appearance or demeanor. In the Old Testament King Saul is described as a handsome man who stood a head taller than everyone else and, at least physically, was a very impressive candidate to rule as king. Even though we’re living in a democracy we still rely on our eyes quite a bit when it comes to our rulers. This is especially true in this multimedia age.
We know that looks and a regal manner do not make a person a great ruler. Behold your King Jesus born in a stable. See Him as an adult surrounded by the dregs of society, and bloodied and beaten on the cross. Yet, we’re told that Jesus is the King of kings. This is true in both His power and His love. This Advent season as we consider the different ways in which Jesus comes to us, today we consider how He comes to us as King —A KING LIKE NO OTHER. I. His power fills us with awe and II. His love causes a reaction within us.
Verses 15-16 of our text indicate the independence of Jesus and His uniqueness. He will reveal Himself in His own time. He is the blessed and only Potentate, that is to say, the Supreme Ruler. He alone has immortality. All of these things put Him in a class by Himself. He is a sovereign authority not needing to answer to anyone for His actions.
Parents have this sovereignty to a degree with their children. The question from a child may be why do I have to go to bed at 7:30? The parent may explain in a very rational manner how many hours of sleep are healthy and how this works out best in their family structure, but he doesn’t need to do this. The parent may simply say, “Because I said so” and that holds true for any rule or regulation in the household. The rules do not have to have explanations.
Jesus does not owe us an explanation either. We may ask, “Why was the week established at creation as seven days instead of five or nine?” We may ask, “Why is it so cold today?” A person may ask, “Why wasn’t I created with a forty inch vertical jump?” Or on a more serious note: “Why did my husband die so young? Why did my child precede me in death? Why am I still alive today? Why did I get cancer? Why did my spouse get Alzheimer’s?” Jesus may simply say, “Because I said so,” and we should be satisfied with that explanation. We do Him a disservice if we try to drag Him down to our level and our way of thinking. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It is remarkable that Jesus chose to reveal Himself to us at all and give us the assurance that His power and authority are coupled with love and wisdom. He shows us time and time again in Scripture that He will do what is best for us. Even though He chooses not to give us specific answers to every question we may have, Jesus gives us the general assurance that we need not question His decisions, just as children may trust their parents.
Jesus is described as the one who alone has immortality. He is eternal and not subject to death. We all go back to the day of our birth for our beginning point. Jesus says simply, “I AM.” Reflecting on this makes His mission to save us all the more remarkable. He volunteered to subject Himself to death. He became true Man in order that He might not only die, but that He might suffer Hell itself for us who are not only mortal, but also sinful.
Earthly kings and kingdoms come and go, but Jesus and His kingdom are here to last. I never thought that the Soviet Union would implode. Not many thought the Roman Empire would see an end. It’s hard to imagine the United States not being in a position of power. But an end will come to all nations and rulers. Only Jesus as true God can claim immortality.
He “dwells in unapproachable light.” [v.16] His holiness and majesty puts Him far above us. Even when angels who merely have His reflected glory appear to humans their first words are usually, “Fear not” (cf. Luke 2). When we consider our sinful state and the holiness of our Lord we may cower in fear. Even the most powerful people in this world who can make life and death decisions without fear of retribution answer to the holy Lord.
What a miracle that through His grace we may approach our Lord Jesus in all His holiness and majesty. It is a wonder that when we study the divinity and majesty of our God we don’t need to be afraid. In fact, we may call Jesus our brother. It’s not because He lowered His standards. It’s not because we were able to improve ourselves. It is because He has declared us to be not guilty. It is because He made Himself a sacrifice for our sin.
Jesus’ power and authority inspires awe, but His love causes even bigger changes by starting a chain reaction of love within us. We don’t obey Jesus because we’re afraid of Him. Our obedience stems out of love. This is what makes Christianity such a unique religion. You can pick out any other religion in the world, and obedience to that religion’s god will be motivated by fear. That’s the way our minds operate. That’s how most in authority will work today whether a boss or a coach. They think that they will get better results when there is an element of fear.
Yet look at the changes within us caused by the love of Christ. We strive to flee what we naturally want and end up pursuing those things that by nature we want nothing to do with. Verse 11 lays this out before us. “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
“These things” refers to what precedes this section and that is the love of money, the pursuit of material possessions. The dollar is the standard by which the world measures success. As we enter the holiday season many find themselves buying what they cannot afford, but are afraid that they’ll be letting their children down if they don’t buy them the latest and greatest toys. Adults try to outdo each other, not only at Christmas, but year round. There is an itch in all of us not only to be rich, but even when we’re rich to become richer. The Lord encourages and empowers us to fight our instincts and flee from the love of money and the temptations of covetousness.
The things the Lord would have us pursue are not assigned any dollar value, and yet they are priceless. Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. These are attributes that the world does not value. In fact, anyone who pursues these attributes is considered to be a fool. Here is where the love of Christ changes us. We know that He died in order that we might pursue these higher things. He called us to this life.
His love also charges us to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called.” [v.12] The word “fight” refers more to an athletic contest than actual warfare, though in other places the Bible uses that picture as well. Whether at the high school level or a professional level, there is an extraordinary amount of training and physical and emotional input into any athletic contest. A team will put in hours of practice for every game they play. Most of the time there’s not even a prize at stake. It’s just to say that you’ve won. We’ve all seen teams that are hungry for victory and those that have just given up.
We are engaged in a struggle with far bigger stakes. Eternity is at stake. Yet at times we train far less than a grade-school athlete will for a game. It’s easy to lie down and say, “What’s the use? There’s no difference in what I do.” Your King is calling you to get back in the game and put your best effort forth. Here again, only His love will make the difference. Our sinful nature would say, “My salvation is all wrapped up. I’m going to coast spiritually.” Jesus moves us to invest ourselves in Him spiritually every single day until He comes again.
Finally we are urged to confess the good confession, to say openly what is in our hearts. Many of you did this at the time of your confirmation when you said what you believed. This is something that needs to be repeated. It’s not that it has to be formal, but continually with our mouths and with the rest of our body to let the world know that we belong to Christ, to let them know that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, even though He is presented to us as that baby in the manger born to die.
When Jesus came to earth the first time, He did not look like a King, but He acted like one by putting the needs of His people above those of His own. As those who are “in the know” let us sing His praises acknowledging His power and reveling in His love. Let us witness to others the truth about our Savior before the King comes the second and last time for the final rescue of God’s children. Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.