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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

SHIPWRECKED FAITH

1 Tim 1:18-20 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

In this lesson text we find the apostle Paul giving young Timothy a charge. Charge is one of those words that have many meanings. To indict someone with a crime is to charge them; we charge a weapon with ammunition; to replenish a battery with energy, we charge it; when we purchase something on credit, they charge it to our account; a doctor will charge for his services; soldiers are often required to charge forward in order to capture an enemy position. However, Paul's charge to Timothy was a task. He gave young Timothy a duty - a responsibility, to go to war, and fight bravely and gallantly, for the cause of Christ, by holding faith, and a good conscience.

By inference, the same charge to Timothy is made to all Christian men and women today. It is the duty and responsibility of every child of God to use the abilities and talents, given them by God to teach others, by the things they say and do, the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ, to all within their sphere of influence. As it was with Timothy, so it is to all Christians. This good work can only be accomplished by holding fast to the faith by which we became Christians. And we must always to do so with a good conscience - one that will not condemn our conduct of life. Having knowledge of that which is right in the sight of God, we must use it to guide and direct our lives, according to the truths found in His holy word. This is an example that can be easily understood by all. When faith in God is put away, a good conscience goes with it. It is replaced by an evil conscience, which swiftly makes one's life a shipwreck - a total, catastrophic, spiritual failure.Obedient faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, without whom we are eternally lost, allows peace of mind through a good conscience.

Paul now reminds Timothy that he must hold faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck. Which characteristic was put away, faith or a good conscience? It doesn't matter. To put away one immediately hides the other from the sight of God. Paul exposedHymeneus and Alexander as examples of such apostasy. Exactly who these two were is subject to much speculation by bible scholars. One named Hymeneus was mentioned in 2 Timothy, 2:17-18, as one erring from God's truth and teaching a false doctrine regarding resurrection. There are a number of men named Alexander, that are mentioned in New Testament history. One mentioned, that seems to fit the unrighteous character of the person referred to in the lesson text, was Alexander the coppersmith,whowas accused by Paul of bringing aboutmuch evil, ...for he hath greatly withstood our words (2 Tim. 4:14-15).

Having first obeyed God's call to salvation through Jesus, and being added to His church, these two men had now abandoned the faith, through which they became obedient to God, and followers of Christ. The good conscience they once had, that directed their lives in faithfulness, now failed to condemn the false doctrine, which they were allowing to guide their present lives. To fully describe their spiritual condition, Paul said that their faith had become shipwrecked - totally lost in the turmoil of the ungodly seas of the world. The faith that had produced their hope of eternal salvation was now lost; the hope that once was the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast (See Heb. 6:18-19), was abandoned - it had become untethered to true faith in God. They were spiritually shipwrecked - the ship in which they once were sailing in Christian seas, was now drifting about aimlessly, without direction, on the seas of worldliness.

Nothing seemed to cause the apostle Paul more concern and disheartenment than witnessing a Christian, thinking themselves to be living a godly life, yet having a faith that has capsized in the sea of worldliness. There is nothing that can be done for such a one that is spiritually shipwrecked except to condemn their actions, and pray that such admonishment would lead to repentance.

The same action that Paul recommended in this instance, concerning Hymeneus and Alexander, was also recommended to the entire membership of the church of Christ in Corinth. To that particular congregation, Paul told them that, when they were gathered together, they should deliver such an one unto Satan (1 Cor. 5:5), that is, to withdraw their fellowship from this sinful brother in Christ, that had committed, and still continued to commit, fornication. Losing his faith by failing to obey the commandments of God, this fornicator was without a good conscience that, by God's design, would condemn his sinful ways.

Why was such actions necessary, by the church at Ephesus, regarding Hymeneus, Alexander, as well as the fornicating sinner at Corinth? Corrective, and remedial actions were required in order to reestablish, in these three sinners, if possible, the faith in God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, by which they were, at first, converted and baptized into the body of Christ for the remission of their sins. It was necessary to reclaim their faith in order to establish, in them, a good conscience. And it is only by this good conscience that they would be able to control, and govern their conduct and live righteous live before God thereafter on earth.

It is only through faith that we are able to have a good conscience to guide our ways. Faith is the rudder, that steers our earthly ship, through the tempestuous seas of life. It is by obedient faith that we have access to the wonderful gift of the grace of God, by which we are saved (Eph. 2:8). To those that live by faith in God, His righteousness is revealed (Rom. 1:17). It is only by taking the shield of faith that we are able to successfully resist the evils of the world (Eph. 6:16), and overcome the wicked one (See 1 John 2:13-17). Christians are told to stand fast in the faith (1 Cor. 16:13);we are exhorted to continue in the faith, in order that we may someday enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22);we are to abound in ...faith (2 Cor. 8:7);we are to continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature, which is under heaven (Col. 1:23).

How important is faith in God, faith in His holy word, and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ as our Savior? Without obedient faith, the world, as well as erring children of God, are as lost as a ship without a rudder to guide it, and without sails to move it in the right direction. Indeed, shipwrecked faith leads to the eternal destruction of the soul of sinful mankind!