Friday 21 October 2016

For many years Bible Sunday was celebrated on the Second Sunday of Advent when the whole Church would join together in giving praise to God for Him giving us His written Word. For some reason I have never been able either to understand or learn why, it was changed to the last Sunday of Trinity. Since this happened, many Church do not recognise it and just follow the normal readings for that day. This can only show much the Bible has been downgraded, but then again there are so many clergy and others who find much of the Bible an anathema, and whilst this in itself sad, it demeans the Christian faith.

Turning now to the reading for Bible Sunday; Paul’s 2nd Letter to Timothy, in Chapter 3 v14. This whole Letter could have been written for to-day’s Church it is so relevant and relates to the situation in which we find ourselves.

Paul is now in prison and these are the last words he will give for he would be executed soon after. He wanted Timothy to take over the ministry he was ending, but knew Timothy was a young and timid man, so he wanted to warn him of the problems to be face and to give encouragement.

Paul has been warning Timothy that things are going to be difficult for Christians. People will only be self concerned, boasting, sneering at God, children becoming unruly; people will lie and cheat and think nothing of immorality.

In addition, the Roman authorities wanted several religions rather than just Christianity, and there were false teachers within the Church who did not want to uphold the moral, ethical and theological teaching of the Bible.

You will notice how similar that is to the situation we face today. Like Timothy we are a tiny minority facing an aggressive majority, living in a permissive society, amongst different faiths, and at times it seems as if the world has gone mad and has lost all credibility. It is like a car parked on a hill when someone releases the handbrake and sets the car rolling away. You can get into deeper trouble if you criticise how someone behaves than if you physically assault them.

Verse 14 states,
‘but as for you’, which is Paul identifying Timothy as being apart the general type. Timothy saw Paul as a role model and had been following his guidance, and having been brought up in a Jewish family, would know the Scripture from an early age and been taught by Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament. It is sad that unless a child attends a private school he will know little if anything of the Christian faith or its festivals, and be unable to differentiate right from wrong. All Christians are meant to be of a better nature.

Verse 15 states,
the sacred writings will make one wise for salvation. The Bible is all about salvation, which can only be achieved through Jesus Christ, which we learn from Scipture.

Verse 16
Makes the fundamental statement that ALL Scripture is inspired by God. It is profitable for teaching, rebuking, and correcting to make one right in God’s eyes; how we were created in the image of God, but fell into disobedience and so face judgement, leading to the coming of Jesus Christ, who would die on a Cross to pay the penalty for our sins, finally to be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven from where the Holy Spirit comes to fulfil our lives and make us worthy.

All that we read in the Bible was divinely spoken by God to 40 men with different personalities and occupations, over a period of many years and were so guided that it was in fact them telling us what God wanted us to know. The Old Testament predicts Jesus, the New Testament reveal Jesus, Acts preached Jesus. The Epistles explain Jesus, Revelation anticipates Jesus.

We are to believe that all the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired of God, and they are without error in the original writings, and they are the supreme and final authority for faith and life. The Bible is the supreme and final authority for faith and life. What the Bible says, God says.

The Bible is God's gift to us to reveal Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, who has come for our salvation. Today we find the liberal lobby repudiating all traditional teaching and rewriting Scripture to meet the new morality of the time.

4 Verse 1
Having outlined how Timothy should respond to the world and emphasised the importance of Scripture, Paul tells him to preach the Word, which he must do without fear or favour, and take every opportunity to do so. His concern for the world is as strong as ever and for thirty years he has faithfully served the Lord and for that he suffered much hardship, beatings and imprisonment. His earnest desire was to make more people Christians.

A preacher is given a great privilege in the Church but also carries a great responsibility, for he will one day answer for how that work is carried out, so all those false preachers will pay for what they have done.

Of course there are preachers who will freely admit they wander from Scripture but infer, ‘it is 2016, the Bible is old fashioned now, society has evolved and all the old shibboleths have been replaced by new ones’, as if God only existed for the first century. If anyone thinks morals and ethics and social behaviour have improved, they living a delusion.

Preaching has never been so unfashionable as now. Gone are the days when a Methodist preacher would speak for 30/40 minutes; anything over 15 has people shuffling.

I spoke to two men who came from Africa, and knowing I was a clergyman asked what denomination I was. I told them I was ordained into the Church of England, but in fact in recent times I have only served in Methodist Churches. One smiled in a sympathetic way, and the other said teasingly not a real Church. Both gave up having attended both denominations to attend black evangelical Churches because they didn’t think the others were fully committed to the Bible, whereas in their Churches the preacher would peak for 4/4 minutes. I don’t believe it is necessary to speak for that length to feel committed, but I do believe the Bible is being watered down.

A philosopher once stated whereas Jesus turned water into wine, the Church has done something much more difficult and turned wine into water. Dr Sangster a great preacher of the past stated, ‘preaching is now in the shadows the world does not believe in it’.

Verse 2
The standard given for preaching to Timothy is, to correct those who put forward wrong doctrine; rebuke those who are living wrong and fall into sin; and encourage all who are in doubt and have fears. All to be done patiently, for you can’t beat someone into faith; Christianity is not a faith which advocates violence.

Verse 3
Paul said a time will come when people will not want to hear the truth if it affects the way they live. Every Sunday the Bible is read in very Church in every nation across the world. When people attend Church they have a right to expect the Bible to be faithfully preached. There is no place for opinions, theories or ideas of the preacher. I do not get authority to express an opinion; I am here to say what the Bible says. Congregations should check what is heard by referring to the Bible themselves. I always encouraged my people to turn to the pew Bibles and follow as the passage was expounded, but I fear few Churches now have pew Bibles.

We live in a very aggressive secular society, one in which there are numerous minority groups who expect and demand consideration above their proportion. If we are to face the challenges of the day, we have to be people of the Bible, which is why sound doctrine has to be given. People are being denied on the grounds of political correctness combined with a fear by preachers they may be called bigots or have some form of phobia. To a world that rejects authority, the church must declare the authority of God. Never forget Jesus always upset people He either saved or turned them away.

This verse also states that people will turn to teachers who will say what they want to hear. Sometimes it is necessary to tell people what they need to hear rather than they want to hear.
Truth can be hard to accept at times.

A young boy returned from Sunday school one day and his mother asked him what story the teacher told. He said it was about an Israeli Officer who led some troops into Egypt to rescue some Jews who were being held captive, and he got them out but were followed by the Egyptian army. He knew they were coming to a river so radioed ahead to have the Israeli Air Force bomb the bridge when the Egyptians followed, and they were all drowned. His mother asked him if the teacher really told them that, and the boy replied, ‘no, but if I told you the way she told it you would never believe it’.

The Bible is hard for sceptics to accept, but it is the story of an all powerful God, and our only purpose as a Church is to preach it.

Verse 4
People will turn away from truths. Because the Bible comes from God, we must bow in submission to it. The Bible stands approved as read, without correction, without addition, without deletion, without any changes.

In this day of enlightened scepticism when unbelief seems to be on the march, we have to face this difficult question:

The question is will we believe the Bible, all of it? Believing the Bible means accepting its authority in all aspects of our life, and we have to show the world by how we live, that we truly believe what the Bible says. We can only do this if our life is in accord with biblical teaching. . We should be men and women under authority, who do what we are told even when it isn’t popular.

Verse 5.
In the final verse Paul again refers to Timothy’s dependability and calls on him to remain steady and be ready to face hardship but never to give up. This is a call we should all heed and not be silenced by political ideologues, or militant secularists and humanists. (or anyone else).

Shortly after this Letter was written Paul was executed and so went to meet his beloved Lord and Saviour.

No comments:

Post a Comment