When we are presented with a truth-claim, we must respond to it in some way. I think about the resurrection of Jesus. When you are presented with the truth claim that a man named Jesus walked the face of the earth 2,000 years ago, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead, it forces us to respond in one way or another. We can reason and trust that this is true. Or we can reason and trust that this is not true. However, what we cannot do is remain indifferent. There is no indifference when it comes to the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son. Either Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead or he didn’t. There is no middle ground. And no matter which option we choose, our lives will be dramatically impacted one way or another by our response to the truth-claim of the resurrection of Christ.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-6 Paul presents a few truth-claims to which believers must respond. Paul presents a truth about God’s heart and a command from God’s Word in this passage. First, we are commanded to pray for all people. And secondly, we are told the truth-claim that God desires the salvation of all people and Christ died as the sole mediator for all people. The question is, will you take the next step through obedient response or will you miss the opportunity through disobedient indifference?
As people of the cross, we have been commanded to pray for all people because God desires that all people be saved and Jesus died for all people. This all means that there is no one too bad or too different for God’s love or Christ’s salvation. God pursues all kinds of people on earth. In fact, the Bible says that God has a people from every tribe and tongue on earth (Rev. 5:7). This means that from every nation on earth, there are those for whom Christ died. In the most remote village and in the busiest city are people for whom Christ shed his blood.
Paul knew this to be true. And because there is only one God and only one mediator in Jesus, Paul knew and now we know that this means that all of those people on earth cannot come to God unless they do so through Jesus. So, not only was Paul urging Timothy to pray for all people because of these things, he was urging Timothy to go to these people and to not keep the gospel away from anyone.
Notice Paul’s response to the dramatic truth-claim of God’s grace in verses 4-6: “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Tim. 2:7). Paul’s entire ministry was based on the fact that God desires global salvation and Jesus died for people from every tribe and tongue on the planet. Because the gospel is for everyone, Paul made it his goal to preach the gospel not just to people who look like him, but to anyone and everyone.
What about you? Do you have this attitude? Has the heart of God and the death of Christ for sinners caused you to desire all kinds of people in your family, circle of friends, and community to be saved? Has it caused you to pray for them? Are you willing to pray for not those who benefit you, but those who have little to do with you or even oppose you? Are you willing to share the gospel with those who make life hard for you? For those who are culturally miles apart from you? For those who do not do things the way you do? Does your prayer life, evangelistic outreach, and missions work in some way reflect the heart of God to save all kinds of people in Christ?
God uses the prayers of his people to accomplish the purposes of his heart through the work of his Son. You cannot be indifferent to the grace of God in Christ. You can be disobedient, though. Indifference to the gospel is just a quiet and subtle form of outright rebellion. And it is the evidence of an unchanged heart.
Instead, allow the grace of God in Christ to move you to respond with global prayer and global gospel proclamation. Respond to the great grace and love of God in the gospel of Jesus by sharing its message with your friends and enemies alike.
Mathew Gilbert is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba.