Thursday, January 28, 2010

Avoid Nonscriptural Teaching

II Timothy 2:16-18

On deputation several years ago, I visited an independent Baptist church in Kansas. The Sunday school lesson was a chapter in one of Focus on the Family’s books by James Dobson. When I was approved as a missionary, I was tested and counseled by Charles Solomon of Grace Fellowship, before I could be approved.

In Bible college, we were required to take certain Psychology courses, and now many colleges offer degrees in “Christian” psychology. Jay Adams’ book Competent To Counsel, is frequently referred to as a basis for these classes, which is interesting since the theme of the book was that Psychology itself had little or nothing to offer, but the scriptures provided real answers.

Traditionally Baptists held certain specific beliefs known ad Baptist Distinctives. These included individual responsibility to God, eternal security, autonomy of the local church, divine inspiration of scripture, and salvation by grace and not works. To be Baptist was to believe all these points. One who believed most but not all was Baptistic but not Baptist. Many no longer use the name Baptist, as they no longer hold these distinctives, and many others should probably drop it as they are no longer truly Baptist, merely Baptistic.

The key to all the other Baptist doctrines was that they believed that the Bible to be divinely inspired and thus the sole and final authority on all issues of faith and practice. Every doctrine or practice must be based on scripture, and any conflicting idea must be resolved by study and acceptance of the scriptural position.

In our day there are seminars, conventions, classes, clinics and meetings of all kinds teaching about every possible aspect of Christianity. There are missions boot camps, youth conferences, pastor’s schools, prophecy conferences, music seminars, fellowships, and retreats. Bible Colleges offer degrees and advanced degrees in Biblical counseling, Christian education, Theology and other subjects.

Books on every subject are also available, from Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins books on the second coming to Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, to Joyce Meyer’s The Battle For The Mind. Some are like the Athenians in Acts 17:21, spending all their time in nothing but trying to learn some new thing. They are like some government employees, never able to do their job because they are away at training, and as Timothy 3:7 describes them as, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Paul has stressed the importance of study of the scriptures in II Timothy 2:15, and now stresses the need to avoid falling for all the other stuff that is available. For the Christian, scripture is to be the sole authority.

“But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (II Timothy 2:16-18)

Paul instructs Timothy to shun or deliberately avoid profane and vain babblings. Profane mean ‘having no spiritual or divine attributes,’ while vain means ‘empty, having no real value or basis.’
As he says, they will only turn people further from God, and the teachings will be like a cancer, weakening and destroying real faith. He then cites an example of how false teaching about the second coming has destroyed the faith of some, turning them from the truth.

I Timothy 6:20 warns against the same things, and especially what is passed off as scientifically proven. Some of the claims are not valid. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” Even if the ideas are correct, they remove the focus from God’s word to man’s ideas, which is why Paul said. “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God,” in I Corinthians 2:4-5.

Rick Warren’s or James Dobson’s books may be completely accurate in their teachings, but they are not the word of God and as such risk focusing people on the man rather than God. They must never be more than a support reference to clarify what God has said. All their teachings must be subjugated to what scripture teaches if we are to please God.

Titus 3:9-11 warns against several things that have no value in Christianity. “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

Purely hypothetical questions, such as “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” serve only to divert from matters of real importance. It distracted the Catholic church for nearly 100 years starting with the council of Nantes. Even if an answer could be found, it would serve no useful purpose. Such questions are to be avoided because they prevent learning what is needed.

That a man is descended from a great preacher indicates nothing of his own spiritual development. He may have well imbibed the jargon with no personal knowledge or understanding. In fact , Paul stressed that his own background had to be abandoned in order to receive Christ. We are not to let someone ‘s background convince us to accept their teachings.

Contention is not a sign of Godliness. Romans 16:17 advises, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” I Corinthians 3:3 makes it clear that contention is evidence of an unspiritual state. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

Zeal proves nothing. Throughout history some of the most zealous individuals have been involved with evil. That a man is willing to be killed or to kill for what he believes doesn’t make his belief correct. His zeal may only be a means of blackmail to get his way, as evidenced by terrorists and suicide bombers. Far too often zeal is based on our traditions rather than valid teaching. The Jews attacked Jesus on this very basis, as breaking the Law.

Jesus accused them of replacing God’s commands with their own customs and laws. “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” (Mark 7:6-9) He was quoting a statement by Isaiah, made five hundred years before.

As a result, Titus 1:14 warns, “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.” This echoes I Timothy 1:4, stating that they cause rather than answering questions. “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”

Rather than getting caught up in all these things, including the modern health craze, we should focus on what God wants.
“But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Timothy 4:7-8)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Study?

II Timothy 2:14-15

A conflict raged between missionaries to Mexico and Central America over which version of the Reina Valera Spanish Bible they should use. The newer one substituted Spirit for Ghost where ever the scriptures spoke of the Holy Ghost. Many felt that that made it a less then exact translation.

What many missionaries failed to recognize was that in Spanish, at least as used in Mexico, the word translated ‘ghost’ does not necessarily refer to a spiritual being, but merely to something that startles or scares you. As one Mexican pastor put it, To use that phrasing would cause the concept of the Holy Spirit to translate as the ‘Holy Spooky’ or ‘Holy Scary’. It doesn’t convey the same meaning. The change actually was closer to the meaning of the scripture than the older version.

There is an ongoing argument over what version of the Bible should be used in English, with some insisting that even modern versions of the King James that have updated spellings of some words are corrupt, pointing to over 600 words that have been changed. It is true that many modern versions are less than accurate translations. In fact, one of the translators of the NIV recently announced that they were redoing their translation in hopes of getting it right this time. Paul warns Timothy of the danger of getting caught up in such arguments, saying that they actually turn men from the truth.

“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” (II Timothy 2:14)

Paul warns that some are so caught up in the exact words they will not accept sound teaching which is stated in other words. Their emphasis on the exact words confuses the issue and focuses attention on other things wit dire consequences. “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself,” (I Timothy 6:3-5). We are to dissociate ourselves from those who are caught up in this. To associate with them exposes us to risk of being turned away ourselves.

Peter points out that not understanding the intent and meaning of the scripture leads to distortion, and finally to the destruction of those so involved. “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (II Peter 3:15-17)

In II Corinthians 3:6, Paul emphasizes that our ministry in not about the exact words and letters, but about the meaning and intent of God’s word. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” An improper focus destroys faith and spiritual growth. Notice he is speaking of the New Testament, not just the law. As a result Paul stresses the need for study in order to know how to please God.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

Imagine the embarrassment of a plumber who installed an entire plumbing system and had to remove and redo it free of charge because he had not done it in a legal manner. It was his responsibility to know and obey the code. If he had forgotten, he should have looked at the code book. It should be just as embarrassing for a pastor to teach or practice in a unacceptable manner. He has the Word of God to show him how things are to be done.

In John 5:39 Jesus told the Jews, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” In Acts 17:11, the Berean Jews are declared to be greater than those in Thessalonica. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Paul advised the Thessalonians to test everything and keep what was worthwhile. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)

The focus of our study must be the scripture. I Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that it teaches everything we need to be pleasing to God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The study is needed because it is so easy for us to misinterpret words. By searching the scripture, we can be sure we are not doing so. II Peter 1:20 reminds us, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Scripture must be compared with scripture.

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to teach us everything we need to know, and he will use the scriptures to do so. He can only bring to memory what we have studied. John 14:6 states, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

One of the things he does to teach us is to compare scripture with scripture according to I Corinthians 2:12-14. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Without his leadership we will never attain more than a superficial understanding of the scriptures. With his leadership, the scripture will become quite obvious. John 16: 13 promises, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Need to Remember

II Timothy 2:8-10

Did you ever watch a newborn calf? If not, think about a puppy or kitten. Every thing is new to them. When they first stand up, they leave the impression that to simply move one foot would, and sometimes does cause them to fall down. Shortly they begin to understand which muscles make which leg move which way and they start to get control of standing. Before long they try to walk, somewhat shakily.

In a couple of hours they may try to run or jump around, often falling down. The second day they fall less and jump for shear joy from time to time. They are a lot of fun to watch for the first several days. As their memory of how to do things develops, they become more and more sure of their walking running and jumping, and curiosity takes over, getting them into all sorts of mishaps. In a short time they remember the consequences and don’t repeat all their mistakes.

One of my employers talked about a certain group of his employees. As he said, they were some of the sharpest people he’d ever seen about picking up physical activities. One family, however, worried him a lot. As he said, “Every day is a whole new world.” Every day one had to go through every step of the procedure again. Once they had been shown, they would do it perfectly for the rest of the day, but there seemed to be no long term memory. He suspected that they just didn’t trouble to remember, but was worried that they’d never be able to function in a job where there was no one to review all the steps every day.

While learning by memory is often frowned on, and with reason, learning requires memory. If we do not remember, we can never progress beyond the first hesitant moves. We can never learn to reason or plan, to read or to make decisions. Our whole life would be just like the calf’s first few hours, constantly falling down and getting into trouble. Our memories enable us to predict the outcome of our actions. They are the basis for intelligent and informed decisions and actions.

Paul’s ministry was based on his memory of what Christ had done for the world, including Paul, and Timothy must do the same if he is to succeed in the ministry. Without the assurance of Christ’s being raise from the dead, ministry is an exercise in futility, as I Corinthians 15 makes abundantly clear. Thankfully God has given assurance by raising Christ from the dead. “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) Timothy, and every minister needs to recognize the importance.

“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (II Timothy 2:8-10)

Only as we remember what Christ did and why will we be empowered to serve God in a manner pleasing to him. Hebrews 12:1-3 directs us as follows: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

Christ’s love and actions are the basis for our ministry, and his example, despite the rejection of those around him is the source of our encouragement. His resurrection is proof of God’s ability to resurrect us. We can believe his promises, but failure to believe will not change the results. He will not break his word whether we believe him or not.

“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” (II Timothy 2:11-13)

Remembering these things is just as critical for the Christians as for the minister. He must cause them to remember as well.

“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” (II Timothy 2:14)

It is critical that they accept what God has said, not spend their time arguing about semantic differences or differences in spelling. Many of the disagreements over which translation of the bible become nothing more than a source of confusion and conflict. Arguments about whether II Timothy 3:17 should say throughly or thoroughly, for example, have no value, merely causing strife and turning away people from Christ. According to the dictionary, they are simply variations in spelling of the same word. Many such arguments have the same effect, and they are to be forbidden.

You Can’t Work If You Don’t Eat

II Timothy 2:6-7

It seems ridiculous that schools would need to provide breakfast for students. Unfortunately, so many parents have neglected the responsibility that the schools have taken on the burden. They found that children who didn’t eat breakfast didn’t learn as much as those who were not hungry. Part of the problem was being distracted by their hunger, and part of it turned out to be a lack of nourishment caused reduced mental acuity.

Often companies provide a donuts or other food before work or at a mid morning break because employees who are hungry are less efficient and alert. In physically demanding jobs, they may even collapse from exhaustion.

Just as food is required for physical and mental activity, Spiritual food is essential for spiritual activity. A pastor or teacher must first have their own spiritual needs met. A pastor or teacher who does not take in spiritually will soon have nothing to offer, just as a cup of water which is not replenished will run dry. This is one aspect of what Paul states.

“The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” (II Timothy 2:6)

The second aspect of Paul’s statement is that one can only give what one has. Just as a cup of water can never give oil, a teacher can never give what they haven’t learned. That is just common sense, but we regularly see unprepared people placed in a position of trying to teach what they don’t know. The results are terrible.

A pastor who has not learned to walk in the spirit can never teach others to do so. An unsaved man can never teach others how to be saved. This does not imply that an unsaved person cannot quote a verse or passage that the Holy Spirit can use to cause someone to get saved, but the unsaved person cannot teach him because he doesn‘t know himself. A person who doesn’t know the subject may present facts, but have no understanding of the relevance of those facts. The hearer must learn to use the facts elsewhere.

“Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” (II Timothy 2:7)

Before a person enters the ministry, he needs to consider the points Paul has made. First he must understand what the job entails, and who he is working for. If he doesn’t understand this, he will never be able to perform satisfactorily.

Secondly he must be willing to set aside other things to do the job. There is nothing more frustrating than hiring some one to help you and having them spend all their time on the phone or doing something else instead of working.

Thirdly, he must be willing to do the job properly. He is expected to minister the way God described, not the way he wants to. A person who refuses to follow instructions is unsatisfactory as an employee.

Finally the person must be willing to learn and expand his knowledge to be effective in the ministry. Employees who are unwilling to attain the minimum standard or those who refuse to learn additional material are of limited value, and their knowledge soon becomes obsolete.

Monday, January 25, 2010

You Have To Play By The Rules

II Timothy 2:5

In our modern day sport program, the idea of sportsmanship is largely ignored. The attitude that “winning isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing’ is prevalent. The pressure kids are put under to win is causing serious emotional disturbances in many children. Now it is common to hear statements like ‘if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying’ are common.

The New Mexico University girls soccer player who punched one girl in the back and grabbed another’s hair to throw her to the ground was only doing what she had been taught is necessary to win. It was only one in a long list of such incidents. Several years ago, one figure skater had her competitor attacked and seriously injured to guarantee her own place in the Olympics. Brawls between professional baseball teams are common, as are deliberate attempts to injure other players in football or basketball.

The use of performance enhancing drugs, specially designed equipment, and illegal recruiting methods are rampant at every level in most sports. Some schools are noted for having corrupt officials, and false accusations of misconduct occasionally are spread to eliminate a team that might be a threat.

The idea behind sports was supposed to be to determine who played the best, not who was the biggest cheater. The fact that one feels the need to cheat implies the cheater knows he is not the best player. If he were better he could win without cheating.

Because of the cheating, players and entire college athletic programs are suspended. Olympic teams and contestants have had their titles stripped, and well known players have had induction into the hall of fame blocked. Pete Rose, a famous baseball player is one of those who experienced such punishment. Paul warns that the same is true in serving God.

“And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (II Timothy 2:5)

Cheaters assume they can remain undetected and in sports they often do. In serving God, however, there is nothing secret. As Luke 8:17 tells us, “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” Hebrews 4:13 that God sees everything that is done. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

Galatians 6:7-8 stresses that God will not be fooled, but that every person will receive exactly what is deserved as a result. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Pastors and leaders must lead according to God’s plan, not taking advantage of their position for their own benefit. Jesus dealt with the issue in Luke.

“And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Lu Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:42-48)

Notice that Jesus said that the man who didn’t know and did wrong will still be punished, just not as much as the one who deliberately disobeyed. It is the pastor’s responsibility to know what God expects. It is why II Timothy 2:15 stresses study. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

II Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the scripture will teach us everything we need to accomplish what God has called the pastor to do. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Actions contrary to scripture are inexcusable. The scriptures are available, and the Holy Spirit will teach us all things according to John 14:26. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” If a man doesn’t know, it is because he has not studied God’s directions, though he may have a college degree in pastoral theology.

Labels: II Timothy draft

Being a Good Soldier

II Timothy 2:3-4

When my parents went to the Navajo mission field, they had no support promised, so Dad took a job with the Navajo Tribe as a construction foreman. He started a church just off the reservation and when the opportunity presented, applied for a piece of land at Navajo, New Mexico. He was required to give up his job when he was approved as a missionary, and his income dropped to a tenth what he’d been making. The house we lived in was a rented from another mission group that had decided it wasn’t good enough for their people, but it was the only thing available.

In addition, Dad had severe allergies, especially to pine and juniper. Those are the most common trees on the reservation, and Navajo was the site of one of the largest sawmills in the world, producing vast amounts of pine lumber. Sometimes, Dad’s eyes would swell completely shut, and he had to take allergy shots and treatments weekly.

Bill and Nita Miller started at Crystal, New Mexico, and Nita also had severe allergies which required regular shots and treatments. Bill had other serious health conditions. Jesse Chaney, who started the church in Crownpoint, New Mexico had severe health problems. I grew up thinking that such things were just part of life and accepting them as part of serving God.

Imagine my surprise when one missionary left another field because of his wife’s allergies. In discussing it with her, we learned that her allergy was a mild allergy to dust, and required no treatment. Another missionary refused to go to the field because he couldn’t find a house as nice as he demanded while a third refused to come until he had at least $3000 a month in support. At the time, all the BBFI missionaries on the Navajo field combined did not have that much support. Clearly their idea of missions was different than that of those doing the work.

Paul’s instruction to Timothy compares the job to that of a soldier. A soldier must give up his own personal comfort and goals in order to please those he serves. He needs to know who he serves, and Galatians 1:10 stresses the recognition of who we serve. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” To serve God, Timothy must give up his own comfort, and goals, as well as efforts to please other people. The goal is to please God. Efforts to please others prevent our pleasing God.

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (II Timothy 2:3-4)

In Matthew 6, Jesus addressed the same point. He makes it very clear that we ought not be focused on what the world has to offer, but on eternal values. What we value most will determine our priorities.

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

If one is to serve Christ, he must focus completely on what Christ demands. To do otherwise is like being cross eyed. One can never be sure what he is actually seeing because his vision switches from one eye to the other. Sometimes he see both things at the same time, and is confused as to what is what. Matthew 6:22-23 describes the problem. “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” It is nearly as bad, and sometimes worse than being blind. One can never commit because he doesn’t know what is real. As James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Many politicians find their loyalties divided between their party and their constituents and are forced to choose on or the other. It is the cause of many of the problems in the United Stated. Similar conflicts arise for Christians between what God has commanded and what the groups they belong to demand. As Jesus said, It is impossible to please both.

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:24-25)

Trying to get the things we need and want, whether by getting them ourselves, or by pleasing others so they will give to us diverts us from what is most important. It ignores what God does everyday around us.

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:26-30”

These are the things everyone needs, and God has promised to supply them. Fretting about them is effectively calling God a liar. He cannot.

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” (Matthew 6:31-32)

Rather than allowing our focus to be divided, we need to concentrate on pleasing God. He will take care of supplying the things we need and want. We can’t foresee future problems, so there is no use worrying over them. We have enough to deal with at the moment.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Preparing Others To Teach

Timothy 2:1-2

In the book Super Freakonomics, the authors examine a little of the research into the effect of genetic factors, cultural factors and other influences on what people accomplish. As they mention, a boy born in August has one and a half times as good a chance of making the Major Leagues in baseball as a boy born in July. It has nothing to do with natural talent, but with cut off dates for enrolling in youth leagues. Since the cutoff is August first, boys born in august are almost a year older when they start than boys born in July. The greater maturity makes them appear more talented, and they get more attention, further increasing their skills.

While this is a major difference, there is a far greater difference. A boy who’s father was a Major League player is 800 times as likely to become a Major League player. Similar discrepancies are found in other sports and professions. While there are differences in physical ability and mental capacity, they are not nearly that pronounced. Most of the difference is a result of learning and effort at the job. Often those with less innate ability out do the more talented because they work harder at it.

People tend to accomplish what they devote most of their energy to, whether becoming a professional athlete, banker, plumber, terrorist, or drug addict. In the next few verses, Paul lays down some principles that must be followed to have a ministry that will be pleasing to God. As Galatians 1:10 stresses, we have to choose whether to please God or someone else. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” What pleases God seldom pleases most of those around us.

Every Christian will have to give his own account according to Romans 14:12. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Those who are pastors and teachers are also responsible for what they have taught and how they have influenced others to serve God. Hebrews 13:17 describes this. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

I Corinthians 3:13-15 warns, “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

It is with an awareness of the responsibility, and the consequences of how we fulfill it that Paul gives the next few instructions. Notice these next two verses.

“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:1-2)

Because of the ease with which some turn away, and the responsibility for teaching them, Timothy must recognize the grace of God. Our salvation, and our righteousness is a gift from God. They are not the result of our efforts. At the same time, we have a responsibility to live up to what we have, and especially if we are in a position of leadership. Failure to understand this weakens our ability to teach others.

The Great Commission, for all Christians, is found in Matthew 28:18-20. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach(matatheno, disciple) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching(didasko, teaching) them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The job isn’t complete until they have been saved, baptized, and taught to obey Christ’s teachings. Evangelism is only the first step.

Paul instructs Timothy to commit what he has learned to faithful men, but to do it in a way they will be able to teach others also. It is especially the pastor’s responsibility. Hebrews 5:11-6:8 describes a group who have not learned what they should have, with the result that some are not even truly saved, and none are equipped to carry out the whole Great Commission.

Hebrews 5:12-14 makes it clear that they had not been properly taught, and were stuck, not even clearly understanding the basics of what was required for salvation. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Even to win others to Christ requires more than knowing the mechanics of the ‘Romans Road’ or some other ‘Plan of Salvation.’ While they are basic, an understanding of one’s natural state of sin, of the Holy Spirit’s action, and personal commitment underlying the promises is critical. Salvation can not be received without all of the above as well as confessing Christ, although many may not be conscious of their presence at the time.

To resolve the problem and prepare the group to fulfill their responsibility, the author states his plan in Hebrews 6:1-3.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”

He then goes rather deeply into what was required for our salvation, on God’s part and the consequences of not taking it seriously. Paul is charging Timothy with the seriousness of the responsibility.

Guarding Ones Self Against False Doctrine

II Timothy 1:13-18

Speaking to the Galatians, Paul mentions being surprised at how easily they have turned from what Paul had taught them to what others said. The claims of others were simply accepted without question. Unfortunately some of those new teachers were there to turn people away from God by perverting the Gospel.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-12)

We are not here to satisfy other people, but to please God. Many of those who teach other things are only there to please themselves or to reap their own benefit. Following their teachings leads away from Christ. Paul’s message was assuredly from God. Any contradictory teaching was necessarily from Satan.

The gospel does not change for any one, but it is especially critical that one who is going into the ministry be correct in what he believes. His message will affect not only himself, but everyone who hears him. If it is incorrect, neither he, nor his hearers will be able to please God. It is also necessary that he maintain that pure spiritual life by the Holy Spirit’s power. It is amazing how easily one can accept false doctrine.

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” (II Timothy 1:13-14)

The churches in Asia had turned to other doctrine and turned away from what Paul taught, even counting his teaching as false doctrine. This turning away hurt Paul deeply, and he warns Timothy to remind him how easily it can happen if we neglect sound doctrine. II Timothy 1:15 advises, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.”

Paul had expended a great deal of effort on those churches, and yet they turned away. Galatians 4:13-17 describes what had happened. “Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.”

Over the years, we have seen many Christians and churches succumb to false teaching and turn against even those who originally established the church. Most of the changes are made to promote the new pastor, either in his reputation with his group, or to establish himself as being in control. The original pastor is degraded to make the new one look better.

Fortunately, not all fall for the false teachers. They still appreciate the teaching of the original pastor, and learn to check what is truth. Onesiphorous was one of these who held to what he had been taught, and did not count Paul as an enemy. His faithfulness was a major encouragement to Paul.

“The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.” (II Timothy 1:17-18)

Without ones like Onesiphorous, discouragement would cause many to quit.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Can’t Stay Here

II Timothy 1:7-12

At Navajo, New Mexico, there were towering Red cliffs along the eastern side of town. My brothers and I loved to climb around on them and hike up Fuzzy Mountain. From time to time, I would find a place where I lacked confidence in my ability to climb a spot. Sometimes getting in such positions scared me, and I had to just stop and get my fear under control so I could finish my climb.

Trying to climb in the clutch of that fear distorted my judgment, and paralyzed me. Once I had my fear under control, I could make valid judgments, which restored my confidence. I could then enjoy my climb again. The more I climbed, the easier it became to control that fear, and enjoy the climbing. While the fear was entirely reasonable and legitimate, uncontrolled fear would result in paralysis and possibly injury or death.

What appears impossible to the inexperienced rock climber is not even a challenge for the expert. He knows his ability and strength. He knows his goals, and he trusts his own judgment. The novice knows none of these things, and the expert’s moves seem very foolhardy. Sometimes what God asks us to do is the same way. To the unbelievers it seems ridiculous to try. They have no idea what we have to base our actions on. God has provided for us to not give in to fear.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7)

My brother Keith was less troubled by fear of heights than I or my younger brother. Frequently we allowed him to go first, watching carefully how he did it. His success encouraged us, and observation helped us to see things we might not have otherwise seen. Others who went with us turned away convinced it was a waste of time, but our observations never failed to make it possible for us to get there. Paul is setting an example for Timothy to follow, demonstrating that success is possible. By following the same path, he can succeed but it will require going through the same afflictions.

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” (II Timothy 1:8-11)

We do not face these afflictions alone, but in the power of God. He provided salvation, not because of what we did but for his own purposes, and had made all the arrangements before the world was created, although it was not revealed until Christ came. Paul was appointed to minister to those who were not Jews. It was essential he accomplish the task if he was to do what he had been called for.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (II Timothy 1:12)

Paul’s efforts are based on faith in God. Even should he appear to fail, God will have recorded his efforts and will not forget. This is what Jesus promised in Matthew 16:24-27. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

We took some other boys climbing. One of them gave way to panic in a spot where it was difficult to get to him. By placing myself between him and the drop off I was finally able to convince him that he wouldn’t fall as long as I was there. Had he not trusted me and controlled his fear, sooner or later his grip would have given way and he would have fallen. The very effort to preserve his life would have been fatal. He had to take the risk to survive.

The same is true with our eternity. Unless we are willing to trust Christ to preserve us, there is no hope. We will lose everything if we try to stay where we are, regardless how far we’ve come.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Personal Faith

II Timothy 1:1-7

II Timothy is written to a young man who is planning on going into the ministry. Paul writes as a father or dear friend, advising on the things which Timothy will need to do to prepare himself for ministry. It actually predates I Timothy, which describes what will be required to fulfill his responsibilities in his first solo ministry. Paul leaves no question who he is is or who he is addressing.

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (II Timothy 1:1-2)

Several years ago, a woman who attended our church described meeting a woman who had just obtained her citizenship and was very excited because now she was a Christian. She didn’t understand that being an American and being Christian were in no way related. Although many Christian principles are found in the constitution, they do not make one a Christian.

In the ‘Bible Belt’, one finds many who claim to be Christians because their ancestors were. Some will tell you they are Baptist because their Grandfather was, although they have no understanding what Baptists, or Christians actually believe. I understand that it is a common attitude among many Europeans as well.

Historically, a carpenter taught his son to be a carpenter, a banker taught his son to be a banker, and tailor taught his son to be a tailor. Despite the freedom to choose one’s own vocation, athletes tend to have children who are athletes, plumber’s sons tend to become plumbers, and banker’s children tend to associate with financial matters. They are not forced to but their background provides a strong basis for following that type of occupation.

Despite the tendency to follow their parents occupation, growing up in a plumber’s home does not make the son a plumber, nor a banker’s son a banker. He still has to choose to become a plumber or banker, and demonstrate the qualifications and skills to become a plumber or banker. In the same way, a Christian background may encourage one to become a Christian but it does not make one a Christian. A person must decide whether he will do what is necessary to be a Christian for himself.

That Timothy is considering a life of ministry is a cause for rejoicing. Like Paul, Timothy has a background of serving God, specifically as exemplified in his grandmother and mother. There is no doubt of the reality of their faith.

“I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 2ti 1:4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (II Timothy 1:3-5)

Paul believes that Timothy has the same kind of faith as his mother and grand mother. Without the same faith himself, he will never attain to the ministry. His parents’ faith will not suffice. It will be necessary to have his own faith, and to allow the Holy Spirit’s working in his own life. The power and ability comes from God, not from our forbearers.

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” ( II Timothy 1:6-7)

God ‘s gift did not include an attitude of fear. I John 4:18 stresses that a sound mature love for Christ will eliminate fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Instead, there will be a power in our witnessing and work. Acts 1:8 states, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Matthew 28:19-20 makes it clear that that power is the basis of our witnessing. It will produce a confidence in what we are telling others.

He has also given us an attitude of love. That attitude is characteristic of those who know God. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love,” (I John 4:7-8). That love is described in I Corinthians 13:4-7. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

He also gives a sound mind, one capable of making intelligent decisions. While we accept God’s claims by faith, we have logical reasons for doing so. It is not blind faith. In Deuteronomy 18:20-22 God gave two specific tests for whether they were to believe a preacher or speaker. “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

Our mind came from God. When he is allowed control, it will lead to wise decisions Proverbs 3:5-7 instructs, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” As I Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ” if we are in him.

These things don't benefit us if they are only in someone else's life.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Final Plea

I Timothy 6:20-21

Many times when a business person turns a successful business over to someone else to run. They are trusting the new manager to keep the business successful. Two young men bought an interest in a plumbing company I worked for. Both had worked there for several years and believed they knew how to make the business succeed.

A year later the original owner was forced to take back the company because it was so far in debt, and they had not made their payments. They owed more after a year in business than the original sale price. They had made some major changes, on the advice of an accountant, but had ignored the principles that made the business successful in the first place. Had they kept doing things the original way, at least until they understood why they mattered, the business would probably have succeeded.

A new pastor coming into a church faces a similar situation. If he wishes to make the church succeed, he needs to understand what has made it what it is. To be a truly successful church, it must be based entirely on the word of God. It cannot rest on the pastors, or anyone else’s standards. All too often different standards and doctrines are adopted because they appear to promise more and quicker results. This is the reason for Paul’s plea.

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (I Timothy 6:20-21)

In I Corinthians 2:1-4 Paul talks about his decision as to how he would approach the church in Corinth. “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Replacing God’s word with anything else, regardless how good or logical or spiritual it may seem, focuses our attention away from Christ. The goal is to prepare people for heaven. John 14:6 states, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Any teaching or practice which distracts from faith in Christ reduces the success of the church. The success of the church is entrusted to the leaders. Following other doctrines and practices may make the church appear to be growing, when in fact it is like the church at Sardis, in Revelation 3:1-6, having a name of living, but being in fact, dead.

Losing that focus has destroyed many churches and Christians. Leaders must not lose it.

Instructions for The Rich

I Timothy 6:17-19

A hammer can be used to build a home, carve stone, or shape metal. It can also be used to smash a car window or kill someone. How it is used is up to the person using it. Money itself is just a tool like a hammer or saw. In itself, it is neither good nor evil. It can be used to make a home, to help others, or to pay for fixing a problem. It can also be used to pay for drugs and sexual sin, to gain unfair advantage, or to have an opponent killed. How it is used is up to the person using it. A fixation on obtaining money, for whatever purpose, is dangerous. As I Timothy 6:10 warns, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The problem is not having or not having money, but the attitude toward it. Christ does not demand that every person who follows him give up their riches, as is illustrated by Joseph of Aramathaea in Matthew 27:57. “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:” In the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-24, he stressed that our attitude toward money could keep us from eternal life however.

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”

And he said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

He saith unto him, “Which?”

Jesus said, “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

The young man saith unto him, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?”

Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. “

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”” (Matthew 19:16-24)

Timothy is to direct those who are rich to avoid falling into this trap by avoiding a feeling of superiority as a result of their riches, or by depending on their wealth to obtain what they desire. Instead, they are to put their faith in Christ. They are to recognize what God gives is for enjoyment, not for their advantage over others.

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (I Timothy 6:17-19)

While the Bible warns against being foolish or wasteful with wealth, it warns that itwill not last forever. For maximum worth, it must be used, just as the hammer must. The hammer is more meaningful to the person who depends on it for a living than to the collector, although the collector may pay more or receive more for it.

By using their money to benefit others, sharing, and giving to others freely, the rich can receive the maximum benefit for themselves, not only in this life, but in eternity. The money will not buy them a place, but a proper attitude toward it will allow them to receive eternal life. As John 12:25 says, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charges to Timothy

I Timothy 6:11-16

The word charge is used seven times in the book of Timothy. Three times it is expressed as relating to Timothy’s responsibilities, once relating to what others teach, once to the women in the church, once in regards to the church’s responsibility for widows, and once to those who are wealthy. The word means to transmit a message, and is translated as ‘command,’ or ‘charge’ usually in the sense of assigning a responsibility. This is the sense it is used in all the charges to Timothy.

The first charge to Timothy makes it clear that the things Paul commands will enable him to successfully complete his responsibilities in a satisfactory manner. I Timothy 1:18-19 introduces the necessity. “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.”

Paul then spends most of the book describing Timothy’s duties, as to how he is to conduct himself, what he is to teach, and the standards he it to hold others to. The second charge to Timothy demands that he practice all these things in an impartial manner, treating everyone fairly, and that he not use force or allow himself to be drawn into things that are wrong in the process. I Timothy 5:21-22 charges, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.”

The final charge to Timothy himself repeats and strengthens the first, reminding him that the first promised a successful battle if the commands were followed. The battle for the mind and victory over sin will be attained by focusing on what God has instructed us.

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:11-12)

Victory will require avoiding the world’s ideas and standards and philosophy, and focusing instead on the things of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to produce his fruit in us. As we do so, Galatians 5:16 assures us, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:19-23 are very similar in import.

Successful implementation requires laying hold on eternal life. This includes both receiving it, and understanding it. Our salvation is completely dependent on Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. We are kept by his power through faith as I Peter 1:5 informs us. “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Understanding this, I find that I am no longer dominated by sin, and am able to obey the injunction in Romans 6:11-14.

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Timothy made his profession before many witnesses, but the two who matter most are God and Christ Jesus, who called him. They are the ones to whom answer must be made. It is necessary to obey These directions, relayed by Paul, but commanded by God, completely. There should be no flaws or weak spots, and no places where he fails to do the job. The responsibility does not end until Christ’s return.

“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (I Timothy 6:13-16)

Everything about the ministry centers on God the father, and on Jesus Christ. Our responsibility will end when he sees fit. All of the glory and praise belongs to him, rather than to the pastor or church. Our efforts are for him, and any success is a result of his action, not ours. In his message to Timothy, Paul has summed up what every minister is to do.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

But I Want To Be Rich

I Timothy 6:6-12

In one of his books, Dick Francis writes about a young man who believes he better than other people because he is rich. His father explains that he is wrong, that they are rich because they are better. It is rather typical of our world’s view. Many church members subscribe to the same idea and seek teachers to tell them how to become rich. Proverbs 28:6 dispels the idea that they riches make one better. “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” Proverbs 22:2 makes it clear we all come from the same place. “The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.” In the last part of I Timothy 6:5, Paul warns that one of the problems for those who teach other than what Paul has taught is that they have corrupt minds and have turned away from the truth, “supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”

Many link crime with poverty and lack of education, even today. Bernie Madof was not poor when he began ripping people off. The various actresses arrested for shoplifting were not poor. O.J. Simson was not poor when he killed his wife. History is replete with examples of rich people doing evil things. All of these people were also highly educated. Riches do not make people better, nor does education. They only make it easier for people to do what they want to do.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance lists holiness as a synonym for godliness. It is essential to receive Heaven according to Hebrews 12:14. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” I Thessalonians 4:7 tells us it is what God intended for us. “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” By saving us, God has enabled us to be holy on earth, and ultimately to have eternal life “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life,” (Romans 6:22).

Proverbs gives many valuable insights into life on earth. Proverbs 16:7 promises, “When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” From Proverbs 22:1 we learn that mere earthly wealth is not the most valuable kind of riches. “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." Proverbs 13:7 warns that efforts to be rich may produce moral poverty instead. “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” Proverbs 16:8 concludes, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.”

The old joke talks of the man who died and some one asked how much did he leave. The answer was “he left it all.” You can’t take earthly riches with you, and if you could, they would be of little value. Gold is used for pavement, and precious jewels for foundation stones. Rather than trying to get rich here, we‘d be better off enjoying what we already have. If we have food and clothes, and a place to stay, the rich man only has more expensive versions of the same thing.

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (I Timothy 6:9-10)

Proverbs gives a lot of insight to the getting of wealth. A man who wants to get rich quick has to be willing to give up his moral standards to accomplish his goals, according to Proverbs 28:22. “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” He ignores the emotional, spiritual and physical costs. He will be forced to do some things he shouldn’t to get rich according to Proverbs 28:20. “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.”

Proverbs 22:16 advises that attempts to get rich by cheating others or ingratiating oneself with or bribing the rich will ultimately result in the loss of everything. “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” Real wealth only comes from honest production, as we see from Proverbs 13:11. “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”

Wealth is a transitory thing at best, and disappears unexpectedly. Proverbs 23:5 warns, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” Focusing on riches leads only to disappointment and loss. Proverbs 11:28 states, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.” As a result, in Proverbs 23:4, Solomon advised, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”

Paul commanded Timothy in a similar manner.

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (I Timothy 6:11-12)

Don’t throw away what God offers for earthly profit. Salvation is worth far more than any amount of wealth. Heavenly rewards are eternal. The loss is too expensive. It is like Esau, who traded all God’s promises for a bowl of lentils. He spent the rest of his life regretting the decision.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Does It Really Matter?

I Timothy 6:3-5

Many years ago, Dad was approached to attend a meeting of the pastors and missionaries on the Navajo Reservation. When Dad refused one of the pastors asked if it was because we believed that it was wrong to call a man father based on Matthew 23:9, because after all that seemed pretty unimportant. After all it was just a title. I don’t think he understood at all when dad tried to explain that that was just one of the minor issues, and that there were many more. After all, we should just overlook our differences and agree to disagree. Paul didn’t agree with that philosophy. In last part of I Timothy 6:2 he commanded Timothy, “These things teach and exhort.”

He told Timothy that teaching the things he has given thus far would qualify him as a good minister, properly matured in the word and good doctrine in I Timothy 4:6. “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” I Corinthians 11:19 makes it clear that such controversies identify who is really serving God in an acceptable manner and who is not. “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” He warns Timothy to disassociate himself from those who reject these teachings.

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (I Timothy 6:3-5)

Several times I have come into contact with children who have been told repeatedly how smart they are. They are convinced they know everything and will not listen to any attempt to correct their opinion regardless of ones qualifications or evidence. They will argue despite all evidence, because in their pride, they do not recognize their ignorance. They love arguing and unanswerable questions which conceal their ignorance.

Paul states that those who reject God’s word are the same way, denying God’s authority, and clinging to their ignorance. It results in conflicts, sinful actions, jealousy, and meaningless discussions by people who have no concept of the truth, I believe it was at the first council of Trent that a dispute arose over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. The controversy dragged on for almost fifty years, and many Church councils were held to settle it. The winners were no more godly than the losers. Paul commands to withdraw from such.

In I Corinthians 14:37, he directs us to assume that one who rejects the scripture is just ignorant. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” If he knew what he was talking about, he would know where it came from.

Romans 16:7-18 says that they are not serving the lord, but seeking their own benefit by deceiving others. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” We are not even to devote a lot of time trying to change them. “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (Titus 3:10-11)

John 14:23-24 tells us, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” II John 1:9-11 makes it clear that the man who refuses God’s word is not a Christian, despite his claims. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Collaboration and cooperation make us participants in their sin, and deserving part of their punishment. We are not here to change God, but to convince men to change. Attempts to change the gospel try to change God. They are blasphemous, and we should consider the messenger as accursed. The saying, don’t shoot the messenger doesn’t apply when the messenger lies.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:8-10)

If they are preaching or teaching something else, they are trying to please man rather than God. They are not serving God. II Thessalonians 3:6 restates the command. “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”

It matters that much!

Workplace Relationships.

I Timothy 6:1-2

While I was attending Baptist Bible College, I worked alongside a number of other college students. One student was continually stopping work to “witness” to other employees. Several times I saw the person he had been talking to get chewed out for not getting their work done, and after a time he was fired himself. He was always sure he was fired because of his Christian testimony. He was right, but because he had such a bad testimony with his fellow employees and employer. He seldom held a job more than a couple of weeks before being fired. Fearing that others would be the same way, his employer later refused to hire other students.

A group of students were hired by one church to carry stones for a stone mason who was putting up a huge stone wall. Some of them made only a few trips carrying the smallest stones they could find. When confronted about it they said they weren’t being paid enough to justify more. That evening, two students were called in and given other assignments and raises because they had done so much, but were instructed to say nothing to the others, who were let go as soon as the stones were all moved. Those two worked until the building was finished.

Scripture addresses the maintaining of a good testimony at work in several instances. To employers or fellow employees the Christian represents Christ. His attitude and actions portray what we think as Christians, and those around us are forced to believe that is what Christ is like. A poor attitude at work by one who claims to be a Christian turns people away from Christ. Paul addresses this with these verses.

“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.” (I Timothy 6:1-2)

No matter what one’s job, it should be done to please Christ, not just to get by at the moment. While the employer may sign our paychecks, we are actually working for God. Ephesians 6:5-9 describes the situation. “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”

Colossians 3:22-25 advises that God will reward appropriately whether for good or evil. “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

Titus 2:9-10 advises that not taking advantage by theft of materials or time glorifies God and Christ. “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” As Peter 2:18 states, it doesn’t matter whether it is a good boss or a bad one. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.”

I Corinthians 7:21 repeats the fact that it doesn’t matter whether you are an employee of someone else or not, a Christian is still God’s full time employee. “Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” We are not to enslave ourselves to others when Christ paid for us. Employers, debt and leaders can all seek to enslave us. Don’t allow them to do so.

With Justice for All

I Timothy 5:21-25

I enjoy working with horses and other livestock. In every group there is a pecking order. One animal takes what he wants. Another animal is constantly on watch, yielding whenever another wants what he has. The lowest ranking animal is usually thinner and less healthy, because he is deprived of adequate food, and companionship. A colt or lamb who has no strong mother to defend him may become the whipping boy for the entire herd. As a result, he may avoid contact because he expects abuse.

People tend to behave in much the same way, preferring some more than others. Historically, race, finances, family reputation, and gender have been some of the sources of preference. In the church there is to be no such attitude. Galatians 3:27-28 stresses that in Christ there is no basis for superiority. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:9-11 tells us tha at spiritual man will see Christ only, not the race, gender, education, finances, or family background. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

This should affect our treatment of other Christians. The rules apply equally to the pastor, to the janitor, or to the guy from the other side of the tracks, to the banker, and to the garbage man. The preacher who said “we need to get a better class of people in our church" had rejected God’s command. There is to be no preference.

“I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.” (I Timothy 5:21-22)

As Christians, there should never come a time of physical strife. Even physical punishment of children needs to be carefully administered. The old “fighting fundamentalist” of a few years ago demonstrated a disregard for God’s commands. Violence does not demonstrate God’s love. It does not demonstrate humility, nor forgiveness.

We are not to allow ourselves to be drawn into the sins of others. We need to check out the facts and not accept the person statements. Several years ago, a man left his wife for another woman. About a year later, he divorced his second wife, and several accused his first wife of doing wrong in not taking him back, ignoring Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and supporting his sin. As we’ve seen, encouraging those who are doing wrong in what they are doing is taking part in the sin from II John 10-11.
While we have a responsibility to set a good example before others, not allowing any thing to consume us, whether drinking or physical fitness or diet, it is appropriate to use medication or eat foods that are beneficial in preventing problems. AaaaaIt is not sin or a lack of faith to do so. As I Timothy 5:23 advises Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” God has given certain knowledge to help us avoid some problems. Refusal to use it is also a lack of faith.

Sin will not be permanently hidden. Jesus said, “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad,” in Luke 8:17. As a result, every person will receive exactly what they deserve. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Many work really hard to keep up appearances, but the truth will be revealed eventually.

Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” (I Timothy 5:24-25)

We need to be very careful in taking sides that we are not supporting the wrong, partaking of their sin. We also need to be careful not to judge others for things that God has not forbidden. As James 2:9 says, “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treatment of Church Leaders

I Timothy 5:17-20

Over the years, I have heard pastor after pastor talk about how badly some church treated a pastor. Since I had been associated with some of the churches, I had questions about some of the claims and investigated further. I quickly discovered the truth of Proverbs 18:13, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” More than half of the time, the evidence showed the pastor to be in the wrong, and abusing the church rather than the church abusing the pastor. Those pastors had listened to the other pastor without checking his story, and as Proverbs 18:17 says, “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.”

III John 9-10 describes Diotrophes as abusing the church he was pasturing. God takes a strong stand against the Nicolaitan doctrine in his letters to the church at Ephesus and at Pergamos described in Revelation 2. Both Jesus and Paul stress that excluding people from the church is an action to be taken by the church, not by the pastor. Many references refer to how Christians are to treat each other, and the guidelines for pastors emphasize their responsibility to be even more careful to model those behaviors.

Nevertheless, abuse of pastors does occur. Some are clearly underpaid and are treated unfairly in other ways. As a result, God has laid out the following guidelines as to how to treat leaders.

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (I Timothy 5:17-20)

If the man is doing his job well, he is to be counted as deserving double honor. If not, the church may need to confront him and if necessary, replace him. Those who teach well are especially deserving of extra respect. They are helping others to prepare for eternity, as well as improving their lives here. They deserve to be properly paid for their labors, both in respect and in a financial way, insofar as the church is able. If the church is unable to pay adequately, it is unfair to demand he deprive his family to satisfy the church.

At the same time it is wrong for the pastor to demand unfair compensation for what he does. If he is away speaking in other churches or at meetings, they need to be carefully weighed in relation to the value to the church. If they prevent his doing his job in the church, the church should not be obligated to pay for his time in doing them. His responsibility to the church he pastors supersedes any responsibility to other churches.

Unsubstantiated charges against leaders are to be suspect. It is far too easy for a person in leadership to be misunderstood, and Satan is eager to destroy with false accusation. If there are two or more accusers, however the claims should be investigated. If found to be true, The leader should be rebuked publicly because he is responsible to set the example. Public censure will make others aware that even leaders cannot escape judgment, thereby deterring others.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Guidelines for Church Charity Programs

I Timothy 5:3-16

Charity is definitely an out reach of the church. It is not however, the purpose of the church. An improperly administered charity program can destroy the church’s financial standing, or it’s credibility. It is not God’s intention that we should protect people from God’s chastening or judgment. Neither does he want us to enable others to escape taking their legitimate responsibilities. The guidelines are to help make proper decisions.

In the early church, care for widows was a major burden on the church. Throughout history older women have tended to outnumber men. While many women died during the childbearing years, a woman who made it into old age was likely to outline men her age. One reason being that both wars and the work men did was both dangerous and more harmful to the body, and the risks did not stop at middle age like it did with women. As a result, many older women were left unable to support themselves.

The number of women who had been left destitute was the reason for the selection of the deacons in Acts 6. The Law gave specific guidelines regarding treatment of widows, Including the direction that part of the tithe was to be used to provide for them in Deuteronomy 26:12-13. Provision was also made to enable them to have food by the laws governing harvest in Deuteronomy 24:19-21. The goal of the system was to provide what was needed without creating dependency or destroying self respect. The guidelines here have a similar goal.

“Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.” (I Timothy 5:3-4)

The primary responsibility for a widow is the families. This is what God expects, and the church needs to encourage an attitude of taking the responsibility. There are widows who have no family, however, and the church needs to accept responsibility for them. They are totally dependent upon God for their support.

“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.” (I Timothy 5:5-7)

There are widows who look at it as an opportunity to do things they wanted to do or to have a good time. It is not acceptable, and the church needs to warn them of the consequences. It is not an opportunity to indulge one’s lusts, nor should one be looking for somebody to take care of them. I Corinthians 7 deals with the subject in detail, and verses 39-40 suggest that while the widow is free to remarry, she may be happier single. Many second marriages turn out poorly, especially if entered into to gain support.

The family has a responsibility to provide, and the church has the responsibility to teach them to take the responsibility. To refuse to take it is to refuse to trust God’s promise and to disobey him. Love is the main indicator of our Christianity. Refusal to help our own family indicates a lack of love. I Timothy 5:8 states, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” It is worse than not believing in God at all. It is acting in exactly the opposite manner as what a Christian should be doing.

The church is not even to take responsibility for every widow who has no support. If she is still young enough to do for herself, it is not the churches place to support her. Paul recommends at least sixty years of age. They ought not support her if her lifestyle has not been consistent with Christian standards. She must have been a faithful wife, not remarried. She must have raised her own children, not left it up to relatives or babysitters, or given them up for adoption. She has to have demonstrated a concern for others, and been willing to do even demeaning jobs with little recompense. She must have demonstrated an unselfish nature.

“Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” (I Timothy 5:9-10)

Younger women are not to be supported because they have a tendency to begin to want companionship and Christ will no longer be the only thing they are concerned about. It may lead to sin and judgment by God. In addition, having no responsibilities encourages idleness, and gives freedom to gossip and stir up trouble.

“But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (I Timothy 5:11-13)

In I Corinthians 7, Paul prescribes marriage as a deterrent to sexual temptation and sin. Those who are not greatly troubled by temptation don’t require marriage to avoid sin, but most will be better off to marry. Doing so, raising children, and making a home will occupy a goodly amount of their time and reduce temptation, especially as she takes responsibility for the administration of the home. It will enable her to escape temptation, having a sense of her own value. Failure to do so leads many away from Christ.

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan.” (I Timothy 5:14-15)

Families that take their responsibilities in this area free the church to focus on those who have no other means of support. I Timothy 5:16 directs, “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.”

Following these guidelines will result in a charitable system that is not burdensome, but is pleasing to God. Modern ideas of charity are displeasing to him. It was never God’s intention that some should work so others don’t need to. As II Corinthians 8:13 -14 states “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:” Only those who help others have any right to expect others to help them.

There is no responsibility to help those who refuse to do their part. II Thessalonians 3:10 states, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”