When it comes time for public prayer, I have two questions. The First is Q: Why Should we pray? I suppose we could come up with lots of reasons of our own accord, but as it pertains to God's view in 1 Timothy of what the church should do it really comes down to the fact that A: prayer pleases God. So last week we looked at prayer, and we saw four types of prayer representing the entire spectrum of prayer, and we came away with the injunction:
"Pray for All Kinds of People, With All Kinds of Prayer, So that nothing hinders the gospel."
In the context of the second chapter of 1 Timothy, Prayer as the first duty of the church is wrapped around a cause and effect of Salvation. Prayer is the effect of salvation meaning that saved people in the church are called upon to pray. And Prayer is the cause of salvation meaning that the content of our prayers ought at times to be bent towards the salvation of others; praying that we don't get in the way of the gospel, and praying also that God would draw a specific person to himself in order to save that one.
The Second Question is Q: Why Is God Pleased When We Pray? And the answer is A: Because He wants Everyone To Be Saved and prayer is a vital component to salvation.
Everything we read in 1 Timothy 2:1-8 is given squarely in the context of prayer so that prayer is the function behind Paul's statements here. So let's take a look at prayer as the Pleasure Of God. And Let's read 1 Timothy 2:1-8 for context, knowing that our study text is verses 3-7.
PRAYER Pleases God Because He Wants Everyone Saved
Paul says that this prayer for a tranquil and quiet life is good and acceptable in the sight of God. He then begins to unpack the character of God – again in the context of prayer and it becomes evident that God is pleased with prayer because He wants everyone to be saved. Thus a component of our prayers (intercession) is for the salvation of everyone from the kid that pushes the carts in the store parking lot to world leaders.
The fact that God desires all men to be saved neither limits salvation to men excluding women, nor does it limit his sovereignty. The same scriptures that declare "No one comes to the father but by me…" (John 14:6) and "No one comes to me unless the father draws him" (John 6:44) also declares "whosoever will, come unto me…" (Matthew 11:28) The scripture clearly teaches that we have a free will but it also clearly teaches the absolute sovereignty of God apart from which our free will, will not bring us to faith in Christ – for even faith is a gift of God.
Augustine argued that no one "is saved apart from His will; and that, therefore, we should pray Him to will our salvation, because if He will it, it must necessarily be accomplished."1
The next four verses are offered as three proofs that God desires salvation for everyone.
(1st proof) There is only one God for all men.
(2nd proof) Our Mediator came at the appropriate time, and
(3rd proof) God's chose Paul as the Apostle to bring the gospel to the gentile nations.
(1st proof) There is only one God for all men. VV.3-5a
The first thing any Jew learned was the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear O Israel God is one"¦" By Jesus' day they had turned that into something exclusionary. God was their God and if anyone else wanted to worship God they had to become Jewish. But Paul uses the doctrine of monotheism in order to show that since there is only one God – it follows that he is supposed to be everyone's God. So then the very identity of God being one God is proof that he wants all men to be saved.
Monotheism: Which means "There is only one God" is no longer a given in our society, but remember that it wasn't the main pattern of thinking in Paul's day either.
(2nd proof) Our Mediator came at the appropriate time VV.5b-6
The second proof that God wants people saved is that he has provided a mediator. Too many would imply that they cannot approach God for they are too sinful, and that would remain true if there were no-one to take us to God. The fact that God has established a mediator to bring the sinful to Him is proof again that God wants all people to be saved.
Jesus is certainly not a mediator in the sense that he brings both parties to various compromises but that he is the only intercessor who is able to bring us to God. He himself became a man – and it is his humanity that enables him to take our place as our substitutionary sacrifice and as our faithful high priest he is able to represent us before the Father.
Note the issue of the Deity of Christ inferred here in verse 5. Elsewhere Christ is called our savior and here God is called our savior. There is no disagreement in the text, Christ is nothing (no-one) less than God in the Flesh. Jesus is the Son of the Father – they share the same nature as deity for there is only one God.
Jesus' death was sufficient to pay the price of sin for all men. Yes I am aware that many of my fellow Calvinists would love to clarify and say that he gave himself only for the elect but I would not see that in this text or in others like it. The death of Jesus was sufficient to save everyone, it is therefore the greater sadness that many will not be saved because they reject the provision made for their salvation.
Jesus, the mediator who gave himself for all men, Is God's testimony that he truly does desire for all men to be saved. That testimony was given at the proper time. The word translated for time refers not so much to chronology as to the appropriateness of the time in which he came.
The time was appropriate perhaps because it was a time conducive to the spread of God's good news. Much has been said about the timing of Christ's life which I only want to summarize.
Jesus was born in an age and a time where He would be certain to be crucified and buried according to the prophets2. He was born in an age in which a foreign tongue was commonly spoke in Israel, which was according to the prophets3. He was born in an age in which a common tongue of Greek was spoken by all people at least as a second language so that the spread of the gospel was made easier by it.
Neither early nor late, Jesus came at the appropriate time in order to prove that God wants all men to come to the saving – experiential – knowledge of Jesus Christ.
(3rd proof) God's chose Paul To bring the gospel to the gentiles. V.7
Why else would God take a man who was, by Paul's own testimony the chief of sinners, and transform him into a nonstop around the world evangelist? The only reason available is that God wants the gentiles to come to a saving knowledge of the faith. Therefore he picked the man who was tenacious enough to never quit.
God wants people to be saved.
My question to you this morning is this: What are you doing about it? People need the Lord, and yet no-body comes to Jesus unless the father draws them. Are you praying that God will draw them?
I want to urge you to take at least three names – three people who do not know God and I want you to write them down. I want you to start praying today for their salvation. Pray that God will draw them to himself. Pray that God will show them their sin and his righteousness. Pray that God will send workers to harvest those people, and pray that God will give you boldness to speak the truth of the gospel to them as you ought. And pray. Pray that God will open their hearts to his Son, and that they will be your crown of joy when you enter heaven knowing full well that they also will be there with you.
God is pleased when we pray because God wants all men to be saved. Therefore "¦ Pray!
1 Oden, Thomas C. First and Second Timothy and Titus. Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching, Page 48. Louisville: J. Knox Press, 1989.
2 Isaiah 53
3 Isaiah 28:11 "Indeed, He will speak to this people Through stammering lips and a foreign tongue"¦"