Notes from the Dwell UK session by Steve Timmis, 12th July 2008.
Session 2: The Church planter as a minister of Grace
In 1 Timothy, Paul was an experienced church planted and knew about Grace. Timothy was his young protege trying to get a new church back on the ‘gospel’ track
1. Grace is Primary Identity as Church Planters
In 1 Tim 1:15, Paul says that Christ came to save sinners, and that he is the worst of all. This is in the present tense. How cam Paul still have an identity as a sinner after all these years?
v13 – Paul says he was bad, but he was shown mercy. But he seems to see his sin more now (writing 1 Tim) than he did then
– As we look back we reflect and are reminded of it, despite the joy of forgiveness – often it is with a shudder – how could we have done the stuff we did?
v14-15 – Paul sees God’s grace as more than abundant. We are great sinners with a great saviour
-> Grace is to be our primary identity. Despite our sin, our names are written in heave by grace.
Therefore the primary identity of anyone who wants to plant churches is that of grace – a saved sinner. This combats pride in how many churches we may have planted.
2. Ministry as Church Planters
Paul’s emphasis is on grace in order to draw them away from legalism – there was an over-reliance on Old Testament law. Paul combats this false teaching in the church by refreshing Timothy’s heart and mind with the gospel – he teaches Timothy about grace. He wants Timothy to command and instruct them away from the false doctrines, done out of love (1 Tim 1:3,5). Timothy has to stand up in front of the church and be clear – he must keep a sincere faith and a good conscience.
3. What is the relationship between primary identity and ministry.
If our identity is that of a recipient of grace, the identity will define the ministry. Conversely, if we find we are expecting legalism through requirements made on others, it might be because we are legalists at heart.
Our identity as recipient of grace
- will enable us to practice grace with others and the leadership
- will enable us to love the unlovely and unloveable (because at heart we know we are)
- will enable us to realise that our grasp of the gospel is not down to our ability
- will help undermine power plays
We will be able to handle failure and criticism, because it is not our pride and identity at stake, but God’s gospel. We are all children of God through grace and saved sinners through grace.