The Time Has Come
When writing to an apprentice, Paul tells him that a time will come when those who claim to follow God will not put up with sound doctrine, but will follow the words spoken by man (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Well, that time has come. No, not with the political correctness that has invaded our society. Not with the religious movements that grab a phrase or passage from the Bible--usually out of context--and build a theology around it. No, it isn’t the accepting of worldly views by the followers of God that has resulted in the flavor of the day, a la carte Christianity that we see. The “time” Paul speaks of predated all of this.
Some would point back to the time when Christianity stopped being persecuted by the government and was accepted. Hundreds of years ago, rulers decided to make religion into whatever they personally wanted or used their power and finances to steer the church in the direction they chose. This is when formal religion (or what we would now refer to as organized religion) came into being. No, it predated that.
As a matter of fact it goes all the way back to the pages of what we call the New Testament. Luke records--as he is inspired by the Holy Spirit--what Paul tells the elders in Ephesus in Acts 20:29-20. Savage wolves is the term used by Luke. An examination of the Greek would render the idea of someone throwing their weight around for a purpose of their own. But what is more frightening about this passage is that those who are acting this way come not from the world, but from within the body of individuals who profess to follow Christ. The Apostle John actually goes as far as naming a brother who is doing this; we know him to be Deotrephes (3John 9). So, as Solomon writes (Ecclesiastes 1:9) there is nothing new.
So what do we do? We do as the Bereans did, and examine the scriptures daily (Acts17:11). I think about what Gutenberg did when he introduced the printing press to Europe. It allowed the common man, not just the religious institutions, to have a copy of God’s word, and become Bereans by examining what was heard compared to what God’s word really said. I think about what the Steves (Jobs & Wozniak) accomplished by putting God’s word at our fingertips, be it on a computer, tablet or phone. We have the power to easily examine what we hear today compared to the way the Bereans had to laboriously unroll scrolls to check what Paul said up against God’s word.
Finally, circling back to where we started and Paul’s words to a young apprentice: know God’s word. Well, his actual recorded words are to “preach the word” (2Timothy 4:2). But behind that sentiment is the idea of knowing God’s word. You have to know it to accurately preach it. Do you know God’s word? Can you explain why you believe what you do and why you act how you act? If not, you run the risk of being led astray by some fine sounding argument (Colossians 2:4).
You may have noticed there are a lot of scriptures references—not quotes--in this article, and that is for a purpose. Feel free to check what I say. . . it will put me in pretty good company.
Focused on the Word,