The chapters for today cover a lot of ground. Paul gives us so many critical instructions in the “pastoral epistles” (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) as well as in Philemon and the beginning of Hebrews is the start of the “faith walk” where the full spectrum of the faith of the Old Testament saints is displayed. Far too much for one blog, but some general messages that are particularly relevant to recent events did stand out for me.
Dovetailing a bit off of what Kevin wrote yesterday, the unfortunate attention and resources that were wasted on the erroneous prediction of the Apocalypse occurring last weekend show why Paul’s repeated urgent pleas for believers of his time to know God’s word and understand doctrine is for us today as well. In 1 Timothy 6:3-4 Paul explains that “if anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing”, but how will we know if someone is teaching “a different doctrine” if we don’t have a good understanding of the doctrines that Christ taught? After Paul directs us to avoid “those who creep into households…led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” in 2 Tim 3:6-7, he instructs us in verses 14-15 to “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”, but we have to know the “sacred writings” to be able to avoid the “creepers”. Finally in Titus Paul follows his description of the qualifications for elders with the directive to “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).
So what is the message Paul is trying to get across to us? You can’t know the false teachers from the teachers of the truth if you don’t know God’s word. How could so many people be misled into believing the world was going to end last weekend and give up everything they have for it? They listened to a man instead of listening to God through His word. We need to be like the Bereans described in Acts 17:11 “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”.
While it can be easy to criticize those who appear to have been so easily led astray from God’s truth, we need to remember that there was a time when all of us were strangers to His truth as well. We did nothing to deserve our salvation or the revelation of the truth and the result is that we have a debt to the Lord that can never be repaid. What Paul reminds Philemon of is what Christ reminds us, “to say nothing of your owing me even your own self” (Phl 19). When people are ready to hear and accept God’s truth, we must be ready and willing to provide it always remembering how much God has done for us.
Do you have trouble putting what God has done for you into words? Consider your faith. We have the benefit of knowing the Christ that has come and can “connect the dots” of Old Testament prophecy, which fills the first chapter of Hebrews, to New Testament reality. Our faith is still a gift from God, but its basis is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus which are well defined and understood events in history. The Old Testament saints had faith in the Christ to come based solely on God’s promises and revelation through prophecy. Which do you think is easier to come by and more worthy of being “credited as righteousness”? Giving faith is just one of the countless things God does in the lives of believers and definitely worth talking about!