The Steadfastness of the Church – 1 Timothy 6:20-21


Our text for today is 1 Timothy 6:20-21. These are God’s Words.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you. 


Paul’s final appeal includes both a positive and negative command. First, Timothy must keep safe the deposit that Paul has made with him. And what is the precious treasure that Timothy is to guard? It is none other than the teaching of Paul’s letter. The Scriptures are valuable treasures that must be kept secure. We guard the gospel, not by tucking it away in a safe deposit box and never speaking of it. No, we put it on display, and defend it from attack and defacement. (v. 20)

As he displays the gospel by his teaching and the example of his life, Timothy must avoid potholes in the road. Turn a deaf ear from godless chatter and false knowledge. Don’t even listen to empty teaching. (v 20) The voices you listen to are leading you somewhere, and godless voices lead you into the ditch. Timothy will not be able to do this in and of his own strength: he will require divine and enabling grace along this road. This parting note has no verb. Literally: grace with you. And it’s plural. Timothy isn’t an island. He’s a member of a congregation. (v. 21)


Why have we spent countless hours studying, reading, and preaching this single letter? Because it is a priceless treasure.

Hear the Bible’s own testimony concerning itself.

29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jer. 23:29)

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

We could go on for hours. It is to be our meditation day and night (Psalm 1). The Word is the instrument God uses to give us faith in Christ (Romans 10:17). According to Christ, the Scriptures are more needful to our survival than food (Matthew 4).

Oh, that the church of the Risen King would love his law!


Last week, in France, an activist tried to deface the Mona Lisa which hangs in the Louvre by throwing a cake at it. They failed of course because the priceless Davinci is displayed behind bulletproof glass. So, you have a priceless treasure that is constantly kept safe—but not because it’s in a vault underground. It’s constantly on display and constantly kept safe.

We don’t guard the deposit of the Word buy burying it in the dirt. Only a foolish servant does that. Hiding God’s Word in your heart doesn’t mean you play hide and seek with the Bible. The Word isn’t a private thing. It’s a public declaration. Every conversation doesn’t have to begin with a Bible verse—but friendship devoid of the Word isn’t really a friendship.

You also don’t guard the truth by reshaping it as if it’s a ball of playdough. Plenty of dying churches thought they could save the ongoing relevance of the Word by reshaping it to suit modern sensibilities. But anytime you reshape the Word you don’t end up with a new Christianity, you just revert back to old paganism. Machen taught us this 100 years ago.

So, how do you guard the Word? You guard the Word the same way you guard caged lion: open the cage. You display it the world to see and refuse to make accommodations. 


As we guard the deposit of the Word, we do so in opposition to irreverent babbling (empty profane speech, godless chatter). What is that you ask? It is speech, and arguments that do not consider the authority of the Word, and it can be heard in a thousand voices. How do you recognize it? First, you need a working knowledge of the Word. Compare the voices of earth with the voice from heaven. Compare the voice of man with the voice of God. 

Our world places the individual, their experiences, their emotions, and their truth at the center of everything. To be more specific, we’ve placed individual psychology at the center. Do what brings you peace. Do what makes you feel authentic. Now, there is a sense in which doing what gives you peace is true. There is a sense in which being authentic is good. Nobody loves a hypocrite.

But peace, as defined by who? Authentic? By what authority? When “I” and “I” alone become the arbiter of peace and authenticity… when I is placed at the center, instead of a new solar system we have a billion wandering stars crashing into one another. Ask: By what authority?

Be comforted, small immortals. You are not the voice that all things utter, nor is there eternal silence in the places where you cannot come.[1]

What is the gospel? The Holy Creator is at the center. He is the voice that all things utter, and there is no place in the heavens in which he is not fully present. The universe is not empty—it is full. All of him is fully present within the smallest seed, and yet he is not the seed. He fills the heavens and yet he is not the heavens. He made them all and stands outside them all. And we, as creatures who owe him everything, have careened out of orbit and into oblivion. Yet, God in his overflowing love has purposed that our careening rebellion would be brought back into humble submission through Christ.


Grace is God’s kindness, in giving himself to us, regardless of what we deserve. Consider all that Timothy, and we have been called to:

  • Contending with false teachers (1:3)
  • Praying for all people (2:1)
  • Men who mortify sinful anger (2:8)
  • Women who love modesty (2:9)
  • Establishing Elders & Deacons (3:1-13)
  • Church is the pillar and buttress of truth (3:14-16)
  • Devotion to Public Scripture Reading (4:13)
  • Honoring Widows (5:3-16)
  • Serving our bosses and employees (6:1-2)
  • Learning Contentment and Generosity (6:3-19)

What will all of that require? A God who gives himself to us regardless of what we deserve.

[1] Perelandra, C. S. Lewis

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