Biblical Truth (3): Truth we Owe (about Man)

This series of blogposts considers the subject of Truth and its importance in Paul’s first letter to Timothy. So far we have answered the question “What is truth?” (John 18:38) and commenced a study of the truth that Christians owe to the world. In this post I want to continue that consideration by looking again at 1 Timothy 2.

Biblical Truth (3): Truth we Owe (about Man)

“God our Saviour . . . desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (vv.3-6).

As we noted last month, Christians are obligated to present the truth about God to the world. This includes the fact that the God of the Bible exists as the one true God who is deeply interested in and intimately involved in this world and our individual lives. He is the God who can have, and wants to have, a close personal relationship with every person.

In addition to the truth about God, Christians should also declare to the world

The Truth about Mankind

David, the most famous of the ancient poets of the Bible, wrote:

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).

This question is vitally important because a true understanding of what a human being is will give to each of us a proper sense of our identity, value, and purpose. Keeping closely to Paul’s letter to Timothy we notice the following:

Man is Special

Christians are to pray for “all men” (1 Timothy 2:1). This is well-pleasing to God because God “desires all men to be saved” (v.4). The desire of God’s heart for all people has led to a tremendous sacrifice on God’s part to provide salvation for all (v.6). Not only so but Paul regards himself as a preacher sent by God to make the gospel known not merely to the Jewish nation (from which he came) but to “the Gentiles” (v.7). 

We can see from these references to humanity that God places a tremendous value on all people. This is in agreement with all of the Bible. In the first chapter of the Bible God’s creation of human beings distinguished them from the rest of the universe.  

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

God created the human being in His image. This distinguished human beings, both male and female, from every other creature and gave them a special status and special value in the world.

It is very common today to speak of other parts of the universe as having equal or greater value to the human being. Ingrid Newkirk, the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals.” Actually, a consistent materialist view of reality would make the human being of no more value than the sum total of our material parts, as Stephen Hawking put it, “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet.”

Such people rarely live by the beliefs they profess. If they go for a drive on a summer evening and arrive home to discover that their car windscreen is littered with dead fly debris, how do they respond? The same as the rest of us! They wash the remains of the flies away and continue with their day. Would they respond similarly if they had accidentally killed numerous people? Of course not.

The truth we owe to the world is that all human beings have intrinsic worth. No matter the strident claims of atheists, animal rights advocates, third-wave feminists et al., people have always acted as if human beings are special – this is because they are. Human beings are eternal persons with intrinsic worth and the God who made them has confirmed this, not only by their creation, but by His willingness to sacrifice for their eternal joy.

Another truth about mankind that we owe to the world is that:

Man is Separated

 Paul writes, “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men . . .” (1 Timothy 2:5). The dictionary definition of a mediator is “one that mediates between parties at variance” (Collins Dictionary). The point is that the need of a mediator is an acknowledgment that two parties have a disagreement; they are not in harmony.  

The distance between God and men surrounds one issue: the problem of human sin. The biblical record of creation shows that, prior to the entrance of sin into this world, God and man lived in perfect harmony. However, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). An old poem put it:

When sin first raised its deadly head,
It caused a widening span,
Between the man that walked with God,
And God that made the man. 

The first man disobeyed the first commandment God gave to men. When he did so, he became guilty before God, condemned by God, and separated from God. It could not be any other way because God is the ultimate standard of good. He is infinitely holy and inflexibly righteous – meaning that sin is hateful in His sight and calls out for His punishment.

Every person whose sins have never been forgiven by God is separated from God. We enjoy many of God’s blessings in this life, family, friendship, laughter, food, music, beauty, but if we are separated from God, we are missing the greatest of all blessings, God Himself. The solemn reality is that remaining separated from God in time will result in eternal separation. Under God’s judgement none of His blessings will be enjoyed forever.

In contrast with many who believe that our wrongdoing is small or unimportant, the truth we owe to the world is that sin is exceedingly costly. It has robbed us of our greatest blessing – a relationship with God – and, if unforgiven, it will rob us of every blessing eternally. 

Man is a Slave

 The hope for man, according to 1 Timothy 2, is that “the man Christ Jesus . . . gave Himself a ransom for all” (vv.5-6). The need for a ransom price to be paid is a reminder that human beings are captives of forces stronger than themselves. Sin has become the master of men. Satan, through deception, holds the world under his sway. The great force which makes man’s self-salvation utterly impossible is the power of divine justice. God cannot overlook sin; He cannot pretend that our sin has not happened; He cannot sweep our sin under the rug. We are utterly trapped – led by Satan and sin into a dungeon from which we cannot escape.

Thankfully the God of inflexible justice is the God of infinite love. What His justice demanded (full payment for sin) His love has provided (by the voluntary self-sacrifice of the Son of God). Freedom is possible for all mankind from the dominion of Satan and sin because “the Man Christ Jesus . . . gave Himself a ransom for all” (vv.5-6).

The claim that man can, somehow, by self-effort, save himself, is the foundation stone of every false religion. This claim denies that God is inflexibly righteous. It assumes that God will fudge on justice and permit our sins to be ignored. The truth we owe to the world is that nothing less than the blood of Christ shed upon the cross could make possible our eternal salvation.  

Man is Saveable

 A final point to note is that “God . . . desires all men to be saved” (vv.3-4). Not only so but He has made that possible by the ransom price being paid (v.6). God wants His special creation to enjoy all of His special blessings. He longs for those separated from Him to be reconciled to Him. He is more than willing to break the chains that bind us and release us into perfect freedom. The truth we owe to the world is that the God of the Bible has removed every necessary barrier to the salvation of every soul. 

 God is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). He is “God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness . . .” (Nehemiah 9:17). Through Christ and His sacrifice you can be rescued by God, reconciled to Him, and released from the chains of sin – this is the Truth about Man we owe to the world.