1 Timothy 1:11
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
The only security at any time either for sound doctrine or earnest moral practice is the gospel. The fallacy with which the apostle contended is found operating in every time. Many would apparently make a divorce in their own minds between the moralities of every day life and the gospel — between works and faith. Because man is an intelligent being and must have a clear notion of what he is doing, if he is to act worthy of his nature, his conduct must be regulated by principle, and especially his moral conduct by a clear understanding of God's will. What, then, is the will of God? It is the system of truth revealed in the Scriptures; in other words, it is orthodoxy. Of course there must be an orthodoxy, or system of right doctrine.
I. GOD IS BLESSED IN HIMSELF, AND THEREFORE HE HAS GIVEN A GOSPEL TO MAN. The epithet blessed, as applied to God, is one of singular grandeur and felicity. In the highest and richest sense of the word, God is the happy or beatific God. God is blessed in Himself, blessed in the manifestation of Himself, and blessed in the communication to others of His own blessedness.
1. God is blessed in Himself. This is a necessity of His being. To be God is to be infinitely happy; for God is just, good; and to be good is to be blessed. To say that a being is good is to say that he is happy. The purity or holiness of God is one of the fountain-heads of His blessedness. Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart." A pure heart is a well-spring of blessedness; it is a bower of fragrance, and an abode of spiritual beauty. It is a bright sky in which the thoughts sing to each other as birds in the sunny air; it is a home of the Holy Ghost. What, then, must be the blessedness of God! He is the holy heart of the universe; the light of light. God is happy because He is perfect. We have never known what it is to be perfect. From first to last in this life we are imperfect, and it is a painful thing to be imperfect. Not only to be so, but to know it — to have the clear consciousness that we carry imperfection within us; to feel that there is a discord at the very centre of our life — that surely is a sharp thorn in the heart. To have come to the vision of an ideal life, which we recognize to be our true and proper life, and love as such, while at the same time we are in bondage to a variety of mean restrictions; this is the cause of unhappiness and unrest. But God is the all-perfect One — harmonious, complete, self-sufficient, and therefore He is the blessed God. God is happy because He is almighty. Our weakness is to us a constant source of pain. We think we should be happy if only we had strength for every emergency, and if the arm could always fully second the will. But we live and die with the sorrowful conviction that, however splendid our projects, our performances are mean. With God, however, there is nothing of this. Above all, God is happy because He is the God of Love. The living essence of the God head has a name, and that name is Love. This is the one supreme joy of the universe; that great affinity, that beautiful spiritual attraction, which draws all souls together in peace and concord, by drawing them unto God. God is love, and therefore He is happy. This is the reason why God might not, and did not keep His blessedness to Himself. Although He was infinitely blessed in Himself in eternity, before angel, or world, or man appeared, He did not remain the sole possessor of this immense, this uncreated felicity. He decreed to unfold the hidden wealth of eternity; to manifest Himself, and to bring forth an image of Himself, in the form of an intelligent and moral being, who should be able to reflect His glory and to share His blessedness. Hence creation; hence the manifested wonders of providence in time; and hence eternal redemption. And so, having looked for a little at the self-possessed, inherent blessedness of God, let us now glance at —
2. God is blessed in the manifestation of Himself. All true work is a pleasure. It is a joy to produce anything. The exercise of power, the facility to act, the creation of a thought, the production of a work of art — each of these manifestations gives pleasure to the person who puts its forth. A child has pleasure in the gradual awakening of its nature, and the first exercise of its faculties. It delights in the discovery and manifestation of its powers, one by one. It delights to be able to walk and to speak. A school-boy, who is a true student, has pleasure first in mastering a problem, and, after that, in exhibiting his mastery over one domain of knowledge after another. A young artizan has pride in the performance of his first piece of independent work, and in earning his first wage. He feels that he is of some worth to the world. In the higher walks of human effort — in the productions of art and literature, the true artist has a pure joy. As the poem, or the picture, or the statue is slowly elaborated, the artist is bringing forth into palpability the fair image that has hitherto dwelt in the ideal world of the soul. There is a blessedness in the manifestation of one's true self. Let these faint analogies remind us of the blessedness of God in the forth putting of His power. He is the Creator, the Supreme Worker, the one Original Producer. He has brought forth the universe. The universe is God's work. And what a work is that! So vast, so beautiful, so profound! Because God is God it must be a joy to Him to bring forth angels, and worlds, and men; and the proof that God rejoiced in His own creation is to be found in the fact that He Himself blessed it, and called it very good.
3. God is blessed in the communication to others of His own blessedness. He who works a work merely that he may delight himself therewith, even although that work is beautiful and good, has not reached the highest blessedness. This consists in making others blessed. He who lives for himself alone can never know what the highest blessedness is. To seek to shut up happiness in one's own heart is to embitter and destroy it altogether; for selfishness .and blessedness can never keep company. Men are unhappy just in proportion as they are selfish; and consequently God is blessed because He is absolutely unselfish. Even in eternity God was not alone in His blessedness; for there are three persons in the adorable Godhead, and from eternity there was fellowship in God, and the high interchange of love. The Gospel was an eternal purpose of God. Yea, how marvellous it is that sin has become the very occasion in connection with which God has revealed the wonders of His grace, and given the highest manifestation of His own happiness and glory. The highest joy of God is the joy of saving souls, It is a blessed thing to communicate happiness to the unfallen, and preserve them in their felicity; but it is more blessed to give joy to the miserable, and open up a way by which the wretched and the impure may return to the very bosom of God. And since these are the tidings; since this is the message of gladness that the gospel brings to every man, how fitly may it be styled the glorious gospel of the blessed God!
II. GOD HAS GIVEN A GLORIOUS GOSPEL TO MAN, AND THEREFORE MAN SHOULD BLESS GOD. In the verse from which the text is taken the apostle speaks of the gospel as something committed to his trust. Notice here some of the particulars in respect of which the epithet "glorious" may be applied to the gospel. The gospel is glorious in its own character; in its authorship; in its unfoldings; and in its everlasting issues.
1. It is glorious in its own character. It is the Almighty God proclaiming an amnesty to sinful men. Surely that is a great fact in the history of this universe. What can exceed in glory such a proclamation?
2. The gospel is glorious in its authorship. Everything God has made is glorious in having Him as its author. Throughout the whole of God's workings, everything speaks of His glory.
3. The gospel is glorious in its unfolding. All the other manifestations of God in creation and providence are but introductory and preparatory to this. Creation is but the scaffolding, and providence but the great stairway leading to the gospel.
4. The gospel is glorious in its eternal issues. It is through it alone that we come into the possession of eternal life. What, then, is our response? It is for us to reflect in some measure this glory. It is for us, in turn, to bless the blessed God. We do so, first of all, by believing the gospel — by listening to this message, and accepting it as the truth of God. Can there be anything more awful than for a human being to reject such a gospel? And yet this can be done — this is done every day. What is worthy of the entire and unreserved homage of our being, if the glorious gospel of the blessed God is not worthy of it?In conclusion, there are four warnings that come sounding out to us from this text, to which we would do well to take heed.
1. Beware of ignoring the gospel. This is what many are doing at the present time. They quietly and complacently set it aside.
2. Beware of caricaturing the gospel. It is a caricature of the gospel to represent God as sitting merely on a throne of justice, manifesting only the sternness and severity of the law, and insisting on the law being satisfied at whatever price, and with whatever results. But the gospel has been so caricatured. Its enemies have said that it is a wrathful and vindictive system.
3. Beware of undervaluing the gospel. There are some who regard Christianity as a form of natural religion.
4. Beware of finally rejecting the gospel.
Parallel VersesKJV: According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.