Friday 14 October 2022





Turn with me now to Paul’s 2nd Letter to Timothy in Chapter 3 v 10 to 4 v.4

Paul is in a Roman prison and this is the last Letter he will write, he knows this and wants to ensure he passes on his ministry to someone he can trust to faithfully carry on in the manner he has done so. He has addressed to Timothy, a young man whom he wants to continue the ministry he is ending, and is giving advice with the earnest plea that Timothy will persist in preaching the true gospel. For not only does Timothy face much opposition from society, he also faces false teachers within the Church, and we know all about that.A common practice now.

The passage begins with Timothy being told he knows what Paul teaches and the purpose he had for life, how he preached with patience and love, for no one cand learn  by force, Christianity is a peaceful faith. He then points out the suffering he endured and Timothy must be prepared as every Christian must, to find he suffers be it mild or harder.

Timothy had been brought up in the faith by his mother and grandmother, and also had been taught much by Paul, and in fact Peter had helped a little, so he had the two Apostles who wrote much of the new testament. Now Timothy had the wisdom to receive salvation by trusting in Jesus Christ, the only way to God.

Paul contrasts all that with the way Timothy has been brought up with a love of Scripture, something children of several generations have been deprived of in the present ages.  The Ten Commandments have become Ten Suggestions, or pick any four from ten.  We have raised a generation, who are unaware of even the most basic beliefs. It is a disturbing situation where all the traditional manners are  not practiced, because few know what they were. Children are denied the basic details of the Bible or its characters, and Jesus is just a word they hear adults use when they swear and curse.

Many of us here to-day grew up in a totally different culture.  We may not have had all the wonderful technological aids and comforts that now are available, but we benefited in other ways. Like Timothy we were taught about the Bible at home, and went to Sunday school as youngsters, learning the stories about Jesus, which gave us standards and values and a good foundation for life.  We had morning assemblies in all schools, now largely avoided in (state) schools. This may not have been widely followed up in life, but the basics had been laid, and our lives were directed by Christian values. Children are now denied these foundations, and are growing up without knowing the country’s religious faith and heritage. 

In the first five verses of Chapter 3 he talks of godlessness, describing the very conditions we find today; lovers of selves and money, unholy, children having no respect and disobedient. This is what happens when a nation turns its back on God. We live in an age of relativism, in which there are no absolutes no basic morals, a case of if it feels right it is. They become lovers of themselves, and there is a moral collapse as the pursuit of money becomes so important. .  Have you noticed that much of what is offered for entertainment are programmes in which people try to win vast sums of money?

In v16, Paul makes a doctrinal statement that ALL Scripture comes from God

We are told God inspired and guided forty men, using their different characters and occupations, to write the Scriptures which would be His message to the world.  We can reasonably presume that if God gave us these words, He would not have done so just to fill pages, but meant us to take note of all that was given.  God wants us to understand and know Him, and the only way we can do that is by Him telling us, which He does in this book. He tells, we listen and obey him.

There are 66 books in the Bible, 39 of which are in the Old Testament and 27 in the New, written by 40 men, all but one being Jewish.  God used their individual personalities and occupations, to communicate His words, and none of them would claim it was any thoughts of their own. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, all state they did not feel worthy, but God laid a burden on them.  This was done over many years, without any collusion, they did not meet each other, yet there is no contradiction in writings.

The Bible is given to teach us and guide us in the way God wants us to live.  This is a very stressful world in which we live.  This is a post Christian age, when most people under the age of 40 have little if any knowledge of the Christian faith or Church. 

 It may have been written by men, but these men were inspired by God to give us the message that God wished us to have.  We are therefore enabled to live according to God’s teaching and be kept from going the wrong way in life, by understanding what is right or wrong.  The important word is all.  Once you start discounting parts you challenge, the whole credibility and authority of the Bible is destroyed. When we fully understand God’s Word, we are more able to inform others.

In Chapter 4, Paul having told Timothy of the importance of Scripture, then tells him to go out and ‘preach the Word’. He does so in the presence of God the Father and God the Son. That Word is that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins; that after three days He rose from the dead and later ascended to heaven to sit at God’s right hand; that one day He will return and bring in His Kingdom, and all will face the judgement.  At the same time Paul is warning all preachers of the serious responsibility to be faithful to Scripture as one day they will be called upon to give answer.  Paul is to correct what is contrary to Bible teaching; rebuke those who misrepresent the Word and encourage those who are faint hearted.

Paul calls on Timothy to keep preaching sound doctrine, but warns him there will be those who won’t accept such doctrine and will want to hear preachers telling them what they want to hear.

I don’t think even Church members give the Bible the attention one would expect.  I know there are many whose sole connection with it is in the Sunday service. But even then, is mainly a case of listening to it being read.  In evangelical Churches, it has been the practice of having Bibles in the pews, or at least available, so that members can follow the readings, and I always found it helped to follow the sermon, (when the sermon is Bible based that is.)  I went to take a service at one Church where there wasn’t even a Bible to read the lessons from and someone had to go out and borrow one.

I am a keen follower of some Churches I have seen in the United States which have large congregations. When the Pastor announces the Bible reading, the whole congregations turn to their own Bibles, this is revealed when the cameras show all different Bibles; such is the attention paid by the people, they are making notes of the sermon.  This was once common in our Churches, but after many years in ministry, I never saw it happen.

The  Church is plagued by disputes over issues and the image it gives, so that it does not have any clear or authoritative belief. The Bible restricts behaviour which people like to indulge in, and frankly what gets support from some preachers, and clearly defines human beings are defined as man and woman, which many of us recognise as a precious gift of Gd.

There can be no doubt that all the problems facing the Church are due to a departure from Scripture, to an attitude of let us make Scripture relevant to modern thinking.  We all have to decide do we accept the Bible as the Word of God, the sole authority in matters of faith and practice, or not.  You cannot have a pick/n mix way.

In the Free Churches, there are those who have different preachers each week, a most unreliable practice.  One week there could be an evangelical preacher, followed by a liberal  minded one.  This causes confusion to listeners as to who  should be accepted.

Sadly, people in general judge all Christians by what they read in the newspapers, and they lump all by what happens in the Church of England.  The various denominations hold different liturgies and practices, which is acceptable, God didn’t create all flowers to be roses, but all flowers grow in good soil carefully laid down, so the various Churches should have the same ground to preach sound doctrine.

Christians have had many disagreements, Methodism was the result of one, but at heart has always been the Bible. John Wesley said, ‘I want to know one thing; the ay to heaven, how to land on that happy shore.  God Himself has condescended to teach the way;He hath written it down in a book.  Give me that book, at any price give me that book’.

We are called on in those inspiring words from one of the nation’s greatest Ministers, to turn to the Bible for guidance in all spiritual matters, and use it to correct wrong thinking; rebuke those who abuse; and encourage the depressed. How John Wesley would grieve if he saw how the current leaders have abused Scripture, who have cast aside the marriage service he laid down in the Methodist Worship Book.  This is one reason why so many Methodist Churches are so empty.

There is nothing more important than for us to be well grounded in what we believe about the Bible. It’s more than just a statement of faith. What we believe about the Bible is fundamental and foundational to everything else we are trying to do as a church.

Today there is a tendency for the Church to become worldly and to compromise on doctrine.  The Church has been given exemption from the same sex marriage act, yet bishops and senior clergy were campaigning to be allowed to conduct such false ceremonies which directly contradict Scripture.  What Paul wrote all those years ago can be clearly seen coming true today, people turning away from truth to suit their own desires.  Once you depart from the Word of God you are in a spiritual wilderness.

We live in a world of itching ears.  One clergyman told me we have to make people feel happy; that doctrine is boring and makes people feel guilty. But preachers are not here to tell people what they want to hear so much as what they need to hear

Jesus said ‘I will build my Church and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it’.  It seems at time as there are those within the Church who want to open the gates.

There is a basic question we should all ponder.  Why do we come to Church?  There are many answers, but the real purpose should be to worship God with reverence and awe; to learn about God and how He would want us to live. In order to do this we need to know our Bibles and be prepared to accept what is taught there.  I know this will not be acceptable to some people within the Church, for it may condemn the way they are conducting their lives. 

The Bible has to be the supreme authority of the Church. I heard a Vicar state in her sermon that we should not take the Bible literally, and there are other Ministers who will say the same.  You should question them as to why not.

We have been saturated by a world that is committed to falsehood. That is why, as Paul sets forth here, we must increasingly proclaim the truth as it is in Jesus. The apostle reminds us that the most effective thing is, preach the word, announce the truth, tell of reality, make it clear, spread the word. and declare that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

You and I are called to advance that work. Like Timothy we are a tiny minority amidst an overwhelming majority committed to unbelief.  We face hostility on every side. Do not let anybody tell you that your life as a Christian does not count. It counts tremendously. Glory in what God has called you to do, and be faithful to his commands.

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