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Prayer and Evangelism – 1 Timothy 2:4-7


Prayer and Evangelism

Why we pray for everyone to be saved.

Text: 1 Timothy 2:4-7
Prayer and evangelism are inextricably linked! Paul has already called the Ephesian church to prayer, to pray, as we learned, for rulers, and governments, that the conditions in the land may be peacefully ordered and so be conducive to the preaching of the Gospel. He gives us three reasons why:-

1. Because of the Desire of God! 4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Paul clearly tells us here that it it is God’s wish that everyone should be saved – yet we know that elsewhere in the Scriptures, we are taught that the only people who actually will be saved is those whom God has chosen and called and regenerated and saved. This is a thread that runs right throughout the whole Bible, – that God is choosing out for himself a people, who are weak and unable to save themselves, – but to whom God will give life and hope and a future. Paul himself strongly affirms this. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Ephesians 1:4-5 Romans 8:30 So if Paul teaches us in these verses that salvation is for those whom God chooses, and calls and saves, why does it seem that he is telling us something different here? There are two possibilities:-

  1. θέλει – What does Paul mean by ‘WILL?’ The Greek word that gets translated ‘will’ in the AV is θέλει – and according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words, a better translation of it in this case would be something like ‘DESIRE’ or ‘WISH.’ There seems to be a difference between God’s DESIRE, and God’s WILL, and we must not confuse the two, after all, we are clearly taught in scripture, ‘Who can resist his will.’ It is this longing, this desire at the heart of God that purposed and planned salvation, that sent his Only Begotten Son into this world to die for sinners… There is always a tension, between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility – they are parallel tracks, that to us may never seem to meet, – but which go the same direction, and take us to the same destination in the end.
  2. παντων ανθρωπων – What does Paul mean by ALL MEN? This verse is part of this ‘prayer lesson.’ Now, look at the phrase, ALL MEN. παντων ανθρωπων – all mankind – – it’s the very same phrase that is used in verse one, ALL MEN, and Paul explains for us what the phrase means. We are not just pray for ourselves or for our church, we are to pray for all classes of men, even for the wicked government who rule over us! All sorts of people! Now, in the very same lesson Paul uses the same phrase to describe God’s desire for mankind. He desires that παντων ανθρωπων, – all classes in Society to be saved and to come to an understanding of the truth.

How will knowing God’s desire for mankind to be saved help us in prayer? Because we too are to pray, for all men to be saved!

2. Because of the Unique Saving Work of God! 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6Who gave himself a ransom for all,
We are motivated to pray because we understand that for sinners, there is no other way by which they must be saved. See how Paul puts this:-

  1. Because there is only ONE God! It’s the ultimate direct challenge to modern thought – The ONLY GOD. But it can be no other way – for the God who created this world demands that we worship him and him alone, and if we disagree with that, or say that all religions lead to god, or make an idol of this world, human or man made, we are immediatley condemned by the Law of God. Exodus 20:2.
  2. Because there is only one WAY to God! Again, what a conflict with postmodernism. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father, but by me!” There is no other way:-
  3. Because no one else could fulfil the law for us! For we are sinners, and He is sinless.
  4. Because of His divine mediatorship! The book of Job utters a forlorn cry, in Job 9:33 But there is, and that mediator is Jesus, who was both God and man, and who thus can lay his hand upon us both!
  5. Because there is only one PAYMENT for our sins! He gave himself a ransom! 1 Timothy 4:9-10 We have seen this before, in 1st John, – where we noted that Christ’s death is sufficient for every sin, and for every sinner, so broad and wide and deep and high is his love. Yet is efficient only for those who God calls to be his, and who with God-given faith repent of their sins and trust the Saviour.

So, all that we have, and everything we need for our salvation is of God, paid for by Christ in the atonement. There is nothing of us in our redemption – God alone is sovereign, his Son Jesus paid our ransom. – This is a perfect Creedal statement from Paul.

3. Because of the Personal Call to be a Witness! to be testified in due time. 7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
Paul begins this section with Prayer, and he ends it with Paul! We are to pray, to pray for all manner and classes of men, even if we think in our hearts that there is no possibility that the people we are praying for will repent. And if ever there was an example of how God could deal with all classes of and all manner of sinners, it was Paul. It was the effects of verse 5&6 in Paul’s life, the atonement purchased on the cross, that brought Him into God’s Kingdom, and made him a preacher, an Apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. See how it affected his life:-

  1. Paul is a preacher!
  2. Paul is a true apostle!
  3. Paul is a teacher! Both a missionary and a defender of the faith, for his desire is to teach these Gentiles faith and truth.

So we should PRAY FOR ALL PEOPLE! For all classes of society. For people with vastly different views, for people who are strangers to the gospel and for those brought up in the church, and for kings and politicians and rulers and church leaders – pray for them all to be saved!
© BobMcEvoy

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