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by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)


DavidJohnsonGood morning, listeners. The title for the lesson this morning is “Shipwrecked.” And our study text is from 1 Timothy chapter one beginning in verse 18. Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you so that by following them, you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

Do you remember the Titanic? It was a large ship, the largest ship of the British merchant service, 46,328 ton ocean liner. Titanic, in tremendous size and power, a huge floating, steel mansion. On its maiden voyage from England to New York on April 14, 1912, it hit an iceberg and sank. The unthinkable, unsinkable sank, shipwrecked, lost. Why? Primarily due to human negligence. Despite all of the urgent warnings via radio of the danger of the ice fields, the icebergs ahead, Titanic increased its speed, a rush to fame and fortune, wanting to stay on schedule and arrive in New York City. It started proud and strong and ended low and lost.

Let’s apply this historical incident to the Christian Church. Some are steadfast in faith, yet others shipwreck their faith. We must be steadfast in the Savior, in our faith. We also should understand that some signs can lead to the shipwrecking of our faith.

According to 1 Timothy chapter one and verse 19 there are at least two basics regarding remaining as steadfast Christians. Number one, holding on to the faith and, secondly, a good conscience. Holding on, remaining faithful to the Lord means to keep keeping on even and especially when life gets tough and even tougher. God does not demand worldly success, but he does faith, persevering faith.

In 1 John chapter five and verse four we find these words in part. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. We must be overcomers. And we overcome by faith, trusting the Lord no matter what, relying, leaning upon him. He is the captain of our faith. We must remain with him, following him, trusting him.

According to 1 Timothy chapter one and verse five it is a sincere faith. It needs to be genuine, heartfelt and that includes our heads and our hands, that is all of our being. Secondly, a by product of our sincere faith is a good conscience which serves us like a rudder on a ship, that steers the believer through the rocks and reefs of sin. Our God given consciences are our inner self judging to be accountable knowing the basic standards of right versus wrong. And when we violate what is right, our conscience warns us and produces guilt.

A good conscience produces peace. So we should ask ourselves. How is our onscience today? How is our faith, our persevering faith? In 1 Timothy chapter one and verse 19 also it says: Some have rejected these. That is, faith and good conscience. And so have shipwrecked their faith.

In the original Greek grammar it emphasizes here a deliberate and definite act, that is a willful destroying, a sinking of trust in God, leading also to a bad conscience. This is serious spiritual negligence. And to be wrecked spiritually is not what we want to be. There are always warning signs. We don’t just get up in the morning and say, “Today I am going to shipwreck my faith.”

No. It doesn’t work that way. It begins with drifting, dodging the Lord, dodging his Church, drifting from the things of God like prayer and reading and the study of Scripture and worship and witnessing and working for the Lord, living for the Lord a lifestyle for the Lord a perspective as a kingdom citizen, not just a citizen of the world.
We are usually warned by other Christians. But some still steam full speed ahead into dark places without the Lord. There are other warnings to which we today also must heed in this same letter, in this same epistle of 1 Timothy. For example, in 1 Timothy chapter four and verse one we find these words. The Spirit clearly says that in latter times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Abandon the faith. The Christian faith.

The Greek word translated abandoned or fall away is the source for our English word apostatize and means someone moving away from an original position here of the Christian faith. In this context, it is due to deceiving spirits, things taught by demons. Those who mislead with half truths who twist the Scripture to suit their own desires, even bald faced lies and deception. And this false teaching is usually accompanied by faulty character and practices.

Do you remember the words of the Lord Jesus in the gospel of Matthew chapter seven and verse 16? By their fruit you will recognize them. False teachers of the Word in the will of God usually live by the flesh, not by the Spirit of God. They emphasize the things of the world, not the things of the kingdom of God. They focus on their own appetite for power and prestige and especially profit. Beware of these. Such teachings, for example, usually include phrases like: if it feels good do it. Or, if it doesn’t harm anyone it is ok. Or, if it is by consenting adults, it is ok with God. Or, you can do anything, because God is going to forgive you anyway. Or, everybody is going to heaven. Or, God understands. Sometimes we need to do wrong to get right.

No, none of those are right. They are all false. They are all of the evil one. Some of these teachings are even invading the Church. Beware of drifting and dodging the truth. And the truth is Scripture, being deceived by false teachers. Many are falling away today, abandoning the faith. So sad to note that many of the negative statistics of people in the world are being mirrored by professing Christians and those in the Church.

The Titanic sank due to negligence, human negligence. If we neglect the things of God beginning with a genuine, persevering, intimate, individual relationship with the Lord, it is at our peril. And we can possibly shipwreck our faith. And certainly knowing Scripture, understanding Scripture is so important to help us to spot what is false. Our challenge is, for example, in 1 Timothy chapter six and verse 12 to fight the good fight of the faith. And that means it is not passive. It is a fight. It is active. The Greek word for fight is the source of our English word to agonize. That involves extreme effort, to focus, to discipline ourselves like a soldier or an athlete. That is, we need to be growing and maturing in the Lord and in the Word of the Lord and in the things of the Lord, not shipwrecking our faith and the things that lead to shipwreck.

We need to take hold, it also says in 1 Timothy chapter six and verse 12, to take hold of eternal life. Again, this is active, not passive. Take hold. Grab it. Grip the grace and gift of God, which he is offering to us in his precious Son, eternal life. He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God has not life. We need to live and work and witness and worship as a faithful member of God’s family with an eternal perspective and purpose. Even now we need to bring glory to God in our lives as we are being conformed to the image, to the likeness and character of the Son of God, even Jesus our Savior and our Lord.

In the second epistle to Timothy from the apostle Paul, in chapter three and verses 14 and following we find these words to the young man Timothy, but they are also applicable to each and every one of us, whether young or old, whether a new Christian or an older Christian. We need to fortify ourselves. Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from who you learned it and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This is applicable, certainly, to each and every one of us, not just the first century Church, but the 21st century Church, not just Timothy, but each one of us. We need to continue in what we have learned and become convinced of. Why? Because of those from whom we have learned it, godly teachers, men and women who rightly divide the Word of God, who teach from the Scriptures, not just from the lip. And that we have also learned it ourselves from Scripture itself by the Spirit of God.

As the Holy Spirit is our ultimate teacher and we need to continue in the Scripture, because the Bible will serve as spiritual vitamins to fortify us over time in the Lord. Scripture is not usually just a jolt, something that just shakes us. It works usually, generally as vitamins to fortify us spiritually over time, slowly, gradually as we mature and grow and develop in the Lord and through his Word by his Spirit.

And, of course, we need to continue in a steadfast faith and a good conscience. The Bible is, as it were, our navigation guide, our orders of voyage through this life that we can pass through the rocks and the reefs of this life safely, steadfast.

The Titanic today should be shining in dry dock as a stunning museum marvel, but instead it is not a beauty to behold, but a rust bucket due to negligent error. We must not allow ourselves to rust out on the inside. We must not grieve the Holy Spirit within us, but instead be lead and guided, directed, comforted, taught as the Holy Spirit comes alongside us indwelling us, helping us along the way to be steadfast.

Don’t allow yourself to be shipwrecked. No, never. It is steady as she goes ahead always in the Lord.


David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10