T the Quarterly Reformed Sunday School curriculum is one of the Church’s great treasures. I have been familiar with this trusted Christian Education material for many years. I was, thus, so honored to be invited to write the material for the upcoming Winter 2018-2019 lessons. I produced both a student and teacher edition and the work is being presently edited by the editorial staff at The Quarterly. The lessons on the Pastoral Epistles (1,2 Timothy, and Titus) will move from “what does Paul mean?” to “a faith for living.” I hope you and your Sunday School, or your church, will consider this study for Winter 2018-19. Here is my introduction to the lessons:
Sunday schools, small groups, and Bible studies are in for an extraordinary spiritual and intellectual journey. The Pastoral Epistles, so-called because they were written to two pastors, Timothy and Titus, hold bountiful truths that guide today’s believer into a “faith for living.” Certainly, the epistles contain a veritable job description for ministers of the Gospel, for those who are Christian shepherds of a parish ministry. But they are so much more. Doctrinal division in your Church (or in your heart)? Come to the Pastoral Epistles. Concern about the organizational ministry of your local Church? Come to the Pastoral Epistles. Planting a Church? Revitalizing a Church? Seeking to understand the basic tenets of the Christian faith? Wanting to know God’s will for your life? Bring all of these and so many more questions to the Pastoral Epistles. I have divided this quarter’s lessons into four modules each, with one final module to consider the “concluding greetings” from the letters. That is a special final wrap-up lesson in itself. In a real way, Paul, for whom all theology must necessarily be “practical” or “applied theology,” loves to “name names!” We will look at those names. We will see that while times change, situations change, people are the same in every age, every culture, and every generation. We are living “east of Eden.” In a word, we are exiled into a fallen world with all of its threatening dangers to soul and body. This Triune God, our God, the One true God, who was rich in mercy and grace, sent His only begotten Son to save us. By living the life, we could never live, due to the bondage of our wills to original sin, and dying the death that should have been ours, through a substitutionary atonement for our violations of God’s Law, on the cross at Calvary, and rising again on the third day, the Lord Jesus Christ has won us an eternal victory. This victory is “dispensed” through the presence of Christ in His Body, the Church. This Church is localized, domiciled, and accessible to human beings where they live. It is essential that the Church function according to God’s Word. Because we live in a fallen world where entropy is the ever-present disease that infects, hardens, decays, and dies, pastors and People alike must be vigilant to “guard the Gospel” in the local Church and in their lives. Here, then, is the great purpose of these letters: to strengthen believers in God’s grace in Christ Jesus in order to guard the Gospel. In guarding the precious treasure of the Good News of Jesus, we are transformed. Welcome to the Pastoral Epistles. Welcome to a faith for living. The author of this lesson desires that you know this: I am praying as I write. I am asking the Lord to speak to you. Across the chasm of distance and time, I ask that the Holy Spirit use these humble lessons to unite us in the truth, to save souls, transform lives, and build the Church of God in our midst. What an honor to be with you for this incredible journey through 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Let the lessons begin!
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