In 1 Timothy 1:1–2 we read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith:  Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”  From these opening words and other places in Scripture, we can learn much about the relationship between Paul and Timothy.  Paul loved Timothy as his own son.  We see this also from 1 Timothy 1:18: “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy …” and from 2 Timothy 2:1: “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”  Additionally, Paul thought highly of Timothy as a fellow believer and preacher.  1 Corinthians 4:17 shows this: “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”  Again, in Philippians 2:19–23: “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.  But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.  Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”

We can see from these verses that when Paul left Timothy at Ephesus, he did so with love and confidence that Timothy would be a faithful pastor to the church at Ephesus.  At some point after Paul had left Ephesus, he writes this letter to Timothy to give him encouragement, and also to teach and admonish him.  However, Paul also writes this epistle to the Ephesian church.    Timothy was a young man at this time and was not yet clothed with sufficient authority to restrain the headstrong men in Ephesus.  John Calvin in his commentary writes, “It is likewise manifest, that there were many things to be adjusted at Ephesus, and that needed the approbation of Paul, and the sanction of his name.  Having therefore intended to give advice to Timothy on many subjects, he resolved at the same time to advise others under the name of Timothy.”

We now look more closely at 1 Timothy 4:12 and see what it meant for young Timothy and also how we can apply this instruction to our own lives: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

In this verse Paul exhorts Timothy how he should live as a minister in the church.  It is thought that at this time Timothy was about 30 years old.  He would be a young man compared to the older members, the grandfathers and grandmothers, the widowers and widows.  Timothy had to conduct himself so that he was not despised because of his youth.  As we saw earlier, Paul writes this letter both to the church at Ephesus and to Timothy.  Paul instructs the church that the age of Timothy should not prevent him from receiving the reverence that he deserves, provided that he conducts himself as a minister of Christ.  The church was not allowed to estimate the amount of respect Timothy deserved based on his age. He also instructs Timothy how he is to live so that he is respected regardless of his age.  He does this by telling Timothy to be an example to the believers.  Timothy must be in the eyes of the world what they would expect to see in the best of Christians.  Timothy must be an example of godliness.  It must be evident to all around him that Christ dwells in his heart.

Paul then gives to Timothy six true marks of a believer.  Paul says, ” in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  This list can then be broken down into two parts: first, in word and conversation, and second, in charity, spirit, faith, and purity.  When Paul says “in word and conversation”, he means “in all that we say and do”.  Timothy’s words and actions were to go hand in hand.  He couldn’t say one thing and then do another.  He could not preach Christ and then live as one of the world.  The remaining four marks are parts of a godly conversation.   The order in which Paul places them is important as well.  Let’s look at them in reverse order to help us understand this.  Paul places purity last.  Purity really sums up all of the other marks given in these verses.   Rev. George C. Lubbers, in the Standard Bearer, Volume 38, Issue 15, writes,  “This purity is not to be taken in the sense that moralism would teach purity, leaving God out of the picture, but it must most emphatically refer to the spiritual ethical purity of the sanctification which is ours through the Spirit of Christ.  It is the purity of heaven, of the spiritual man, of the new man in Christ, in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. It is the purity of godliness, which is not merely a matter of form and convention, but a life which has the power of godliness.  A minister must be a truly godly man.”

We can see that if Timothy was to live with purity as described above, then he must walk in faith.  Here, faith refers to both a justifying faith in Christ Jesus and a sanctifying faith from which proceeds good works.  In the same Standard Bearer article, Rev Lubbers writes, “Such faith takes all its “purity” out of Christ; it eats and drinks the holiness of God in Christ, and reveals itself in the keeping of the commandments.”

The next true mark of a believer is “in spirit”.  John Calvin, in his commentaries describes this spirit as “zeal for God”.  This zeal for God would be evidenced in Timothy’s life if he lived a life of purity and faith.  Without this zeal, Timothy’s faith would be lacking, and he would not be living a true life of purity.

The last mark we look at is “in charity.” Love energizes true faith.  Timothy’s faith would have no power if it was not motivated by the love of God.  Rev. Lubbers, in the aforementioned Standard Bearer article, says it best: “If a minister spoke with the tongues of men and angels, and had not love he is altogether nothing more than a noisy, clanging brass and cymbal.  Only where such love is which is longsuffering, kind, rejoicing in the truth, and which love will endure eternity, is there true faith and real purity of God through the Holy Ghost.”   Thus, if Timothy had this true love, faith, and purity, they will be reflected in his words and deeds.

We see how these verses are written as an admonition and encouragement to young Timothy, but now let us see how they apply to us as young people, young adults, older adults, parents, and grandparents—all of us.  We saw how Timothy, as a young man, had a place in the church of Christ.  We also have a place in that church as young people.  While our place in the church is not the position of minister, we nonetheless have an important place in the church.  In 1 Corinthians 12 we read that each of us has different spiritual gifts and each of us is a different part of the body of Christ.  We also read that each part of the body (each member of the church) is important for the life of the body.  Since God has given us a place in his church, we must live our lives in such a way that we are not despised for our youth.  We must look to Timothy as an example of how we must live our lives.  It is easy, as young people, to defer authority and respect to the older generations in our churches, and we must give them this authority and respect.  However, as young people, we also have unique opportunities to be a witness unto godliness.  As young people, we have many opportunities to profess our love for Christ and to show by our walk that we are his children.  Whether it be in school, in the workplace, or in our busy social life, there are many times when we have a choice to make—a choice to choose God or to choose to go along with the world.  The decisions that we make affect our witness unto godliness.

Choosing to profess our love for God will help us to be an example of all the believers.  Paul gives to Timothy the marks of a believer, and they must be evident in our lives.  Our words and deeds must be those that are filled with charity, faith, and purity.  1 Corinthians 13 shows us how important charity must be in our lives.  I will not quote the entire chapter here, but it would benefit all of us to read this it again.  In this chapter we see that if we have enough faith that we could move mountains and have no charity, we are nothing.  This chapter shows us how charity (or lack of charity) affects all aspects of our life. This charity should be evident in the way that we feel about ourselves, the words that come out of our mouths, and the way that we treat one another.   Only when we have this true charity of 1 Corinthians 13 will we have the true faith and purity of our God.

Timothy was exhorted by Paul in these versus to be an example of the believers, and from Scripture we see that Timothy followed that exhortation.  Let us pray that we may also heed this exhortation from Paul and that our lives may be such that we too are an example of the believer, in word and conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

The story of Daniel and the lion’s den is a story with which many of us are familiar. When Daniel was living under the rule of King Darius, the king established a decree saying that no one under his rule could pray to any god except the king. Anybody that disobeyed the decree was to be thrown into a den of lions. Daniel knew about this decree yet he continued to pray to God. Daniel was captured and thrown to the lions where he survived the night.

This story is one that yields a good example of the life of a Christian. Involved in this story are two main aspects of what should be an integral part of every Christian’s life. These two aspects are 1) faith and trust in God, and 2) willingness to do whatever it takes to obey God, even if that means death.

Daniel displays the first aspect admirably. When Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den he believed that he would be safe from all harm. In the passage in Daniel 6 we do not read anything concerning Daniel’s attitude until after he has spent the night with the lions. When morning arrives and the king calls to Daniel, Daniel answers by claiming that God sent an angel and shut the lions’ mouths because he was innocent and had done no evil toward the king. Nowhere does Daniel say that he was unsure whether he would live or die. Daniel displays an attitude of faith and trust that his God would keep him from danger.

Daniel also displays the second aspect necessary in a Christian’s life; that of absolute obedience to God. He does this by continuing to pray in spite of the king’s decree. Daniel shows that prayer is so important to him by praying, and henceforth risking capture and death. When captured, Daniel did not argue, beg, or complain. He calmly accepted his punishment. He was willing to die for his Lord.

As Christians we must strive to be more like Daniel when looking at these aspects of our lives. Daniel’s example is one that we should follow. As Christians we must be zealous in our attempt to have faith as strong as Daniel’s. Daniel also shows us where our priorities ought to be. God is first and we must obey God even if that means disobedience of man’s laws and decrees, leading to punishment. As Christians the ultimate test would be when confronted with death for his belief. We should pray that if confronted with such a test the Lord will make us as strong as Daniel and allow us to go forward with faith.

In this world we, as Christians, are confronted with an abundance of evil. There is such talk in the world about a person’s heroes and role models. Most of the role models seem to come from sports and the entertainment industry. I think that we as Christians often overlook one important producer of role models. As Christians we need to use the Bible to determine our role models and Daniel is an excellent role model for all Christians. In the midst of an evil land, Daniel’s faith and obedience toward God were strong. We should pray that our faith and obedience can become as strong as that of Daniel.

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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