Friday 23 February 2024

2 TIMOTHY  4. v1 -5

There is a basic question to time: Why do we go to church? Do we go to church for Christian fellowship? Do we go because we like the music. ? This is what we should think about

The primary reason we gather at church on Sunday is to learn about God, and to grow closer to Him. Everything else is secondary. Knowing Christ, becoming like Christ, is what we are here for. This is achieved through the Word Of God and what we can learn from Paul's final set of exhortations to Timothy in the first 5 verses of chapter 4.

Like Timothy, we see ourselves as a tiny minority amidst an overwhelming, mounting majority, committed to evil and unbelief. We face hostility on every side. Paul reveals the realities before which every Christian lives and labors

Paul begins this section with a "solemn charge " to Timothy.. The instruction Paul gives Timothy here is, by no means, optional. Paul is issuing a forceful directive to Timothy, and also to us, Paul concludes his exhortation with the simple command: "preach the Word ". This is to say that sermons must be expositions of the Bible, not expressions of the preacher's opinions.

Paul is instructing Timothy, and by extension to all Christians and especially to all Ministers, to ‘Preach the word’. Paul has earlier emphasised to Timothy the importance of Scripture, and he now tells him to go out and preach it. He stresses to Timothy that he does so on behalf of God.

A preacher stands in the presence of God, and must aim to please the Lord, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, for the preacher will one day have to stand in front of the Lord and give account.

The word preach means to proclaim or to herald. When a king wanted to give his people a message he would send out heralds all over the kingdom to proclaim that message out, and the herald had to give exactly what the king stated, not adding any opinion of his own. That is what all Christian preachers are expected to do, declare authoritatively the message of the king of kings.

We are to spread God’s word, not theories, or one’s own opinion, not a political analysis, not criticism of America or Israel, just the word of the living God. Thus saith the Lord.

The bible must be the supreme court of the church, the final authority in deciding all controversies. Alas, in the modern church that is not so.

A church which rejects the teaching of the bible, loses its authority. People have a right to expect men speaking as Ministers of the Church to do so, based on the word of God and not expressing personal opinions or preferences. When Ministers substitute personal views for political rhetoric they are exceeding their remit.

We may find ourselves at odd with the world. God pays attention to what is said from the pulpit. I am here to preach the word of God so unbelievers may come to believe, and so believers understand more and mature in the faith. It doesn’t matter if the congregation is small or big.

When I was ordained as a priest in the Church of England, I was asked to affirm, that I believed the Bible contained all doctrine require for salvation, and I would teach only that in Scripture and banish doctrines contrary to God’s Word. The Bishop then gave me authority ‘to preach the Word of God’. Why do so many renege on their vow? I heard a Vicar state from the pulpit that she didn’t think the Bible should be taken literally. What happened to her ordination vows? Can you imagine a Muslim preacher challenging the authority of the Koran?

Timothy is called upon to reprove, rebuke and exhort. In other words, we have to be concerned with mind, will and emotions by correcting wrong thinking, pointing out what is wrong in behaviour and attitudes, and encouraging those depressed.

Paul tells Timothy, to ‘preach in season and out of season’, in other words at all times, and to be urgent doing so, and in getting the message out. The world’s greatest need is to hear about Jesus Christ. All Christians, not simply all ministers, are commanded in Scripture to share their faith.

We put a lot of energy into fairs, fetes and garden parties, but treat them as just that without trying to reach out to the people at the same time.

e have parish magazines and newsletters which mostly tell what HAS happened, and contains articles about gardening or other hobbies, pieces about where people have been, or of memories. There needs to be stimulating, provocative writing on a biblical theme.

Most of all we need to look at our services. I have been to services and rather than come out inspired I am demoralised, and say to myself what was all that about. Too often services are done as if it is because something has to be done, rather than create an exciting experience. Often we find the sermon is a homily, to fill in up to ten minutes when it should be the focal point of the service, to motivate and teach and inspire.

It is possible to attract people to Church, if we are prepared to make the effort, and offer a service with vibrant content.

When Billy Graham, and last two Popes came to this country, crowds of people flocked to hear these men. That was because they offered people something worthwhile, through inspired preaching and joyful praise, and people were ready to respond.

In verses 3 and 4, we are reminded why persistence in proclaiming the Word of God is so important. Surely, Paul is accurately describing our present context. ‘For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers who will say what their itching ears want to hear.’

Sound doctrine aims to correct our faulty beliefs about God, and it aims to shape our character to be like Christ. If such is so vital to the life of a church, what is it that produces sound doctrine?
Faithfulness to God's Word, produces sound doctrine and produces mature Christians. Mature Christians fulfil the ministry God has called us to.

Sound doctrine calls us out of our comfort zone, challenges our sinful desires and behaviours, calls us to shift our focus away from ourselves, and calls us to focus on God. I am afraid that "the time " Paul predicted, has arrived.

Paul predicted, we, more than ever, need to heed his counsel to Timothy. This refers to a time when people will reject Christian standards, morality and values and will substitute others.

Paul says, men and women will turn away, because truth requires the admission of human weakness, which people do not like to admit; the restraint of passions, which they do not like to do; and submission to the authority of God and other authorities under him, which they dislike and reject.

They turn away from the truth, and will not even give it a hearing. It is not that they will listen to the truth and then decide whether it is right or wrong; they do not even want to hear it. They do not want to hear anything which will restrict their indulgences, and they resist, sometimes fiercely, every attempt to introduce the truth into any kind of social or governmental situation.

Then they will look for those who will teach them what they want to hear; those who share their preferences, and are prepared to re-interpret Scripture to meet the desires.

There is a disease, widespread in our day, called "itching ear disease," which Paul mentions here. This is an ear that wants to hear a particular line of things, an ear that wants to be entertained, that is always looking for something new, an ear that wants constant affirmation and does not want to hear anything negative or contradictory. People who have this disease look for teachers who will scrath that itch; and the result, the apostle says, is that they "wander into myths."

What do these teachers, which such people accumulate in great numbers, teach? They cannot teach the truth because the truth is unacceptable, so they teach attractive lies, fantasies for the most part, speculative philosophies that emerge from the minds of men which have no basis in fact or history. There are many of these myths abroad today.

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. You and I are called to advance that work. Do not let anybody tell you that your life as a Christian does not count. It counts tremendously.

There is spiritual drift in the Western Churches. You will find at the highest level of Church office, biblical morality being denied and opposed. There are those who would rather pay attention to the Equality and Diversity Act than Holy Scripture, despite the fact that some biblical Christians fought hard to have the Church excluded from some of the provisions of that oppressive Act.

There is too ready a desire to preach political correctness rather than biblical correctness. We are facing sustained attack from secularists, who are trying desperately to remove any semblance of religion from the public life of the country. Humanism is now the belief of millions.

As society degenerates it is so easy for Christians to go with flow. It is not uncommon for preachers to state that God would never condemn people for their sins. God is portrayed as a sort of spiritual father Christmas. The Church, in places, is prepared to accept moral conduct which directly contravenes Scripture, but the Bible teaches that God created a moral world and demands retribution for sin.

If preachers were to so preach the Bible faithfully, Churches would emptier than they are now. Society has forced a morality upon us which the Church nationally was never prepared to combat, but instead let it grow, a sort of attitude, ‘if you can’t beat them join them’.

If ever the Word of God was needed it is never more so than now. It calls for people to turn back to God, who is ready and able to meet the needs of everyone who turns to Him. The message we have for the world is centred upon the person of Jesus Christ.

Come to church then, prepared to feast on sound doctrine. This combined with the work of God's Spirit, will not only transform you, but it will transform others as you seek to become one who faithfully preaches the Word of God.

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