Saturday, August 6, 2022

Discipling Children - 2 Timothy 3:14-15

2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Timothy’s faith was grounded not only on the teaching and example of Paul, but in his upbringing as well. As a child his mother and grandmother (2 Tim 1:5) had acquainted him with the sacred writings, the Scriptures. It is never too early to acquaint a child with the Word of God. It is common today to hear, “I’ll let the children decide for themselves what they want to believe.” Ultimately every person makes that decision for himself/herself. There are three problems with that. First, how can someone choose something they are not familiar with? The child will decide, but they need to have an awareness of what it is they are deciding about. Second, as M. Scott Peck observed, “We are all born narcissists.” A child will choose that which is popular, that which is fun, or that which is easiest. Children don’t choose on the basis of truth, but on the basis of that which is shiniest. Third, as Christians we have the mandate to make disciples. For parents and grandparents, discipleship starts in the home. We have a God-given calling to disciple our children in the Faith. Don’t neglect your calling.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Responding to Evil - 2 Timothy 3:14

2 Timothy 3:14 (ESV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

Two things prompt Paul to encourage Timothy to continue in what he had firmly believed. First was the truth that life is hard for believers. I addressed that in a previous blog. The second is that the world will become increasingly evil. Not only will the world continue in wickedness, but there are those who claim to be believers who will increase in sin as well. That is the sad truth. Those who have an appearance of godliness (see 2 Tim 3:5) will not only be living a self-centered life, but they will be teaching others and drawing them away from the truth of God’s Word. We live in a day foreseen by the Scriptures, a day when even the church calls evil good and good evil, a day when that which is contrary to the very nature, character, and purpose of God is celebrated in the church. With slick words they “creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:6-7). How are we to respond to these slick teachers of immorality and wickedness in the church? As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to avoid such teachers (2 Tim 3:5). We are not to fret, for “they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all” (2 Tim 3:9). We are to follow the teaching of the Scriptures carefully in our own life (2 Tim 3:10-16). We are to continue firmly in the truth of the gospel that we first believed (2 Tim 3:14). God knew this day would come. Let us not fear but walk faithfully and carefully by faith, according to the Word of God..

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Life is Hard, trust God - 2 Timothy 3:14

2 Timothy 3:14 (ESV)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

Two things prompt Paul to encourage Timothy to continue in what he had firmly believed. First was the truth that life is hard for believers. The second I’ll address in a later blog on this verse. First, Paul recites the hardships from which he has been delivered. Then he concludes, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). That is not what we want to hear. We want to hear that we will live a comfortable life. We want to hear that God will fix all our problems. We want to hear about the wonderful life we will experience as believers. But Paul says that with a desire to live a godly life comes persecution. The word translated “persecuted” means to be chased, harassed, and mistreated.

Notice that the persecution does not come because we are obnoxious about our faith. It comes because we “desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.” Too often I have seen people be obnoxious about their faith and then label people’s response as persecution. Real persecution comes not because we are pushy or obnoxious, but because we pursue godliness. We have an Enemy that stirs people up against us when we begin to take our faith seriously.

Our response to persecution ought to be not to fight back, but to hold to what we believe. When bad things happen, when opposition arises, when we are attacked, we can begin to question our faith. If God is real, why did this happen? If God loves us, why is life so hard? Hold on to what you have learned and firmly believed.

Maybe this verse could be summarized this way: Life is hard. Trust God! May we never be moved from our foundation of faith in Christ Jesus. Whether loss, or opposition, whether pain or persecution, trust God. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (1 Tim 3:14).

Friday, July 29, 2022

Who are we to avoid? - 2 Timothy 3:9-13

2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4-5   (ESV)

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, . . . . treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

At first read, our response to these verses is to see our world being described and conclude that we need to avoid the World, withdraw into our safe church clusters and be safe. But that’s not what Paul is saying. Notice what precedes the statement, “Avoid such people.” He describes those who are “having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” He is not talking about avoiding the World. He is talking about avoiding those who claim to be Christians but live like the World. Too much of our current theology is about self. It’s about being happy, being comfortable, enjoying life, all the while denying the power of God to truly change hearts and lives. This can take many forms. One form is that of the Health and Wealth gospel that teaches that God wants us all to be healthy and wealthy. Faith and the Bible become means of satiating our own desires. Another takes the form of those who say, “I’m forgiven, but I can’t help but sin. I’m just a sinner saved by grace. Thank God that someday when I’m in Heaven I won’t sin anymore.” This mentality fails to take into consideration the truth of the Gospel that as believers we have been crucified, buried, and raised to new life with Christ. It makes excuses for sin. It makes provision for sin. The Christian life is described as one of constant failure but thank God we’re forgiven. That is not the Gospel. Both Health and Wealth and “I’m just a sinner” theologies have a form of godliness but deny the power of God to truly transform lives from the inside out. These are the ones we are to avoid. In 1 Corinthians 5:9 -10 Paul wrote, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world.” The Scriptures are not teaching us to completely disconnect from the world. They are teaching believers to avoid those who have an appearance of loving God and loving his Word, but who deny the power of God to transform hearts and lives here and now from the inside out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Responding to evil - 2 Timothy 2:24-26

2 Timothy 2:24-25 (ESV)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

As our world grows increasingly immoral, where good is called evil and evil is called good, how is a believer in Jesus Christ to live? The last paragraph of 2 Timothy 2 speaks to this question. It lays out several principles. 1. Do not be quarrelsome. 2. Be kind to everyone. 3. Know what you believe and why you believe it so that you are able to teach it when the opportunity arises. 4. Correct those who oppose you with gentleness, not anger, violence, or loud protests. 5. Remember that no one is beyond repentance. 6. Understand that repentance does not immediately change a person's perspective. Repentance leads to a knowledge of the truth, but that takes time. 7. Remember that those who oppose you are not the enemy. They are ensnared by the Enemy. Pray that they would “come to their senses” (2 Tim 2:26). Seven principles in three verses that change everything about how Christians live, respond, and reach out in a broken world that is opposed to what they believe. What if we actually lived that way? How might that impact our world?

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Pursue Righteousness - 2 Timothy 2:22

2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Timothy is challenged to “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” Our current culture tells us that you only live once, so get in as many experiences as possible before you are too old to do them. And old beer commercial encouraged us to “Go for the Gusto.” Nike’s tagline for over twenty years has been, “Just do it!” But is that really satisfying? It seems to me that mentality becomes addictive. There is always a bigger thrill to pursue, another mountain to climb, another experience to pursue. It is never enough. Maybe that is why adrenaline adventures are so popular. For me, maybe I’m just old but I think I’ll wait on wingsuits until I get to Heaven. For the believer, there is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying God’s creation. I love to ride my motorcycle. That’s not a bad thing, but there is something bigger, higher, more valuable that we are called to pursue as believers. That is righteousness, faith, love, and peace. All the experiences of life come to an end at some point, but righteousness, faith, love, and peace follow us into the next life. So, let me ask you as I regularly ask myself, what are you pursuing? Which is more important to you, righteousness, faith, love, and peace, or another high adrenaline experience? Which is more important, righteousness, faith, love, and peace, or the latest TikTok or YouTube? Which is more important, righteousness, faith, love, and peace, or following your passions? At some point youthful passions and experiences fail to provide us with the rush we so crave. But a life that has pursued righteousness, faith, love, and peace finds deep satisfaction in a life well lived. What are you pursuing?

Monday, July 18, 2022

Dishonorable to honorable -

 2 Timothy 2:21 (ESV)

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

I’ve seen bathtubs turned into salad bars and toilets turned into planters. If we can turn unclean bathroom fixtures into salad bars and planters, it should come as no surprise to us that God can turn someone unclean into someone clean. There is only one way for anyone to cleanse themselves from what is dishonorable to become honorable. That is through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for us. We are all dishonorable apart from Jesus. It is by God’s grace, through faith that we enter into Christ and are washed clean. There is no one in the church that can say, “Look at me. I cleansed myself and made myself holy. There is no one that can say, "I changed my ways and am now holy.” When we trust God to accept us because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, we are washed clean, set apart as holy, and become useful to the Father. Good works do not gain God’s favor. Good works flow out of God’s favor. No one is too dishonorable to be washed clean and made holy. No one is so good that they do not need to be washed clean and set apart as holy. We all stand on level ground before the Father.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Firm Foundation - 2 Timothy 2:19

2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV)

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Two men named by Paul in verse 17 have been undermining and upsetting the faith of some by teaching that the resurrection had already occurred. Despite their faith being shaken, they have a firm foundation upon which to stand. God’s firm foundation of assurance that “The Lord knows those who are his.” Notice that the call to depart from iniquity is not to assure their salvation. Rather the call to depart from iniquity is a response to the assurance that God knows those who are his. Our faith may waver. Our faith may be weak. But our assurance is not in the strength, potency, or intensity of our faith, but in the faithfulness of God. Six verses earlier Paul reminded Timothy that our faithlessness doesn’t change the fact that he remains faithful (see verse 13). Now he assures us that even if our faith wavers, God knows who belongs to him. The call to holiness is not a requirement for salvation, but a response to the faithfulness of God. That is why Hebrews 12:2 tells us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, not on ourselves. There is a place for introspection, but holiness flows out of keeping our eyes on Jesus, not on the depth of self-evaluation. God’s firm foundation stands. Rest on that truth.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Irreverent Babble - 2 Timothy 2:16-18

2 Timothy 2:16-18 (ESV)

But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

“Avoid irreverent babble.” What is meant by irreverent babble? Well, verse 18 gives us a clue as to what that might look like. Hymenaeus and Philetus have been focusing on what Paul calls irreverent babble. They have been teaching that the resurrection had already occurred. How they got to that conclusion I don’t know. Matthew 27:52 says that at the time of Jesus’s death, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” Perhaps they were thinking of that event or had heard about it. Maybe they got impatient when Jesus did not return right away after his ascension into Heaven so they began to spiritualize the resurrection. We’re not sure what motivated them, but their teaching is what Paul called irreverent babble. It is irreverent in that it fails to take into account Jesus’s teaching and calls into question the Apostles’ teaching. It is babble because people seem to be drawn to it despite the fact that it makes no sense.  I would classify the Prosperity Gospel as irreverent babble. It fails to take into account the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles regarding suffering, and it fails to consider the life and experience of believers through the ages. Despite the fact that the only ones getting rich are the prosperity preachers, people are drawn to its irreverent babble. There are many more teachers out there with a twisted gospel. We don’t necessarily need to hunt down every false teacher and expose them. What we need to do is to stay focused on the truth, avoiding irreverent babble. May God give us the discernment to distinguish between the truth of God’s Word and the irreverent babble of the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Handling accurately the word of truth - 2 Timothy 2:15

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed.” You would expect that what follows would be a statement about obedience, or moral behavior, or not living in sin. But that is not what follows. What follows is, “rightly handling the word of truth.” When we hear “word of truth” we think of the Bible, the Scriptures, and that would be an appropriate application, but that’s probably not what Paul has in mind here. By “word of truth” he is probably thinking of the heart of the gospel that he expressed in verses 11-13. We are not to quarrel about words (verse 14), but we are to handle the word of truth accurately. Why does he talk about approved workers rightly handling the word of truth? Why does he not talk about approved workers living in obedience, or departing from sin? Because when the gospel is twisted, how we live is also twisted. Obedience and departing from sin result from a proper understanding of the gospel. Verse 19 talks about departing from iniquity, but only after challenging Timothy to first handle the gospel correctly. At the heart of the gospel is not only the idea of our forgiveness and acceptance, but also our death and resurrection. We are crucified with Christ. We are raised to new life. Obedience flowing out of fear and guilt only goes so far. Obedience out of the new life we have in Christ is what produces the life God calls us to. Mess with the gospel and you mess with obedience from the heart. A worker who lives right is first a worker who handles the word of truth well.

Discipling Children - 2 Timothy 3:14-15

2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and h...