Some church leaders had abandoned Paul. It seems some were against Timothy at Ephesus, too. I know all too well how much of a struggle that can be. It hurts. Moses knew the same pain. Paul referenced Korah’s rebellion where Korah and some others rose up against Moses & Aaron supposing they were better fitted for the role. Yup, been there. It’s amazing how common that is. I’ve felt hints of that myself as a subordinate, although I think I’ve done well at understanding there was a lot I didn’t know and still being submissive. I learned that lesson by failing initially, but I had gracious people to help me through it. Having sat on the other side, though, I have a far better perspective. Timothy needed to remember that God knows who are His just like He did in the days of Korah. Men may fail. They may have a wrong perspective, but we are secure in the Lord. He knows the truth. Those who follow Jesus must turn away from such rebellious people. They taint a church. They’re a leaven, a cancer in the body the must be dealt with or their evil will spread. That’s far easier said than done. It’s sometimes hard to recognize the sinful parties or to admit what they’re doing is sinful. But we do have the Holy Spirit to lead us if we’ll seek Him and yield. Even then we don’t always get everything right. So there’s grace. Thank You, Lord, for Your grace!
I’ve taken about as much time in the letters to Timothy as I did in some of the longer epistles. There have been some distractions along the way, but I’ve also dug into each verse in a little more detail. It really does speak to my hear as a pastor with great depth. Of course for a task oriented guy like me I’m also ready to complete the letters. Worth it. During this time after I’ve resigned from GBC I get some time to reflect, although family takes a lot of attention. I’ve really appreciated the encouragement that I’ve stayed true to the Word in my teaching. There is plenty of other encouragement that also means a great deal to me, but that one in particular is one Paul wrote about to Timothy. I believe I’ve handled His Word rightly and with integrity, even if it meant some wouldn’t like it. I believe I’ve helped people see how to live it, not just know it. There is plenty of opportunity for profane chatter. Plenty of preachers are ear ticklers. And during this time when people are confused as to why we’re gone there are opportunities to gossip and I really don’t want to do that. I think we’ve done pretty well. A lot of the profane chatter Paul wrote about was heresy. People preached their own ideas rather than solid truth from the Word. It fit the culture of the day much like very liberal theology and the prosperity gospel fit our culture now. They submitted the Bible to modern philosophy and viewed it through that lens rather than looking at things from a biblical worldview and their message spread like gangrene The only way to deal with gangrene is amputation. Their false teaching was literally damning people. Philetus and Hymenaeus were very Greek. Greeks thought the soul was immortal and the body was a temporary prison, so the idea of bodily resurrection didn’t make sense. They couldn’t fully wrap their minds around the truth since it was different. They practiced synergism. They taught there was no bodily resurrection and that the complete resurrection had already happened. One of the great truths of Christian faith is that our bodies will be raised in glory as well. It doesn’t make sense to our finite and fallen minds, but it is the truth. I think sometimes we try too hard to make everything make sense in human ways. I’m a logical guy. Logic and reason even tend to enhance my faith. But that’s because I start with what I know to be true from God’s Word and then everything else tends to fall into place.
A preacher should continuously remind people of what they already know. A lot of times we can get wrapped up in pleasing and impressing people by teaching something new. I think a lot of people expect that these days. Really, a lot of times it will be reminders for seasoned believers. In fact, it was more the false teachers who got into impressing people with peripheral knowledge about a passage. I wonder if we’re largely guilty of this today. So many just want more knowledge and to prove themselves right. Paul says that does no good. In fact, if anything it just grows people in ungodliness. He wrote to the Corinthians that “knowledge puffs up.” Knowledge that doesn’t lead to active change, to obedience, is worthless. The great commission is to teach people to obey, not just teach them. I think a lot of the American church is puffed up. We’re fat on Scripture. I’ve been lambasted for saying that, but I stand by it. It’s dangerous. It’ll kill a church. But I also think Paul is talking about the beginnings of Gnosticism. They always had more knowledgefor people. They wrangled about words and just confused people into their heresy. There are plenty of groups doing that these days. A lot focus on OT law including dietary. Some go the opposite way into licentiousness. And while I see value in understanding systems of theology, the debates have gotten pretty heated over Calvinism. People seem more interested in proving themselves right and winning people to their side than leading to “love from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith.” We’re the same as people from all time. We fall into the same traps, sometimes in the exact same ways and sometimes with some minor tweaks, but the roots are typically similar. I thank God for how He made my sermons more applicable as I’ve grown. That’s often what I’m complimented on the most. It’s also what I get criticized for the most. I don’t like criticism and when someone criticizes me for doing right things I hurt for them, but it can serve as a compliment to me. I’d rather have people active in their faith than people who know the Greek or Hebrew root and every connecting passage for a particular verse yet don’t really act on it. That’s the kind of people that will grow a church properly and bring incredible fruit to glorify God. I want to be sure to focus on being that kind of guy myself first.