Reverend Dwight Fletcher | What’s at stake?
Last week, we began this series by looking at Paul’s instruction to Timothy in the face of false doctrine being preached in the Church. By looking at this example, we recognised our individual role in ensuring that the truth of the Word of God is proclaimed in our own lives. If your life is submitted to God, in obedience to Him and His Word, then God can do “exceedingly and abundantly above” miracles through you, and you can be an example to your peers.
Though Timothy seems to be the most unlikely person for the job, he knew the Word, which was one of his primary qualifications for being asked to go to Ephesus. He couldn’t be twisted about by fancy arguments or good-sounding philosophies; he stood firm on the solid rock of the Word, committed to his Lord and the truth of the Gospel.
Paul, therefore, feels confident as he instructs Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-4: “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” By modern standards, Paul is politically incorrect. Paul is saying directly that the teachings of some men were wrong and should be stopped.
In our postmodern society, we might rationalise a false teaching by saying things like, “Well, that is his or her understanding.” Others might say things like, “If it works for you, do it, but as for me, this is what I believe,” or, “He might have got a specific revelation from God,” while others may say, “Although some of it is wrong, some is true, so….” In our society, everything is relative. Paul, however, is expressing a no-tolerance stance. There is an absolute truth, and it is the Word of God, used correctly. Just as how one drop of poison can kill you, 99 per cent truth with one per cent lie is dangerous.
Jesus, when praying to the Father, said, “… Your word is truth” (John 17:17). These people had to be stopped because there was much at stake. “… Many false prophets (teachers) will appear and will lead many people astray. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:11-14, NLT).
Understanding the Word
We can’t expect the world to understand, but we have to commit to understanding the Word, with the truth of God being the standard by which we live. Children of God must commit themselves to the maturing process so that it won’t be said of us: “… though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
We must become students of the Word and use the guidance of the scriptures to make our decisions. We must dedicate ourselves to the maturing process so we can distinguish between good and evil. If not, we will constantly be led astray by winds of false teaching. In instructing Timothy, Paul indicates that STANDING against false teachers demands an understanding of three things: their error, their motive, and the truth.
Now that we understand why it’s important for us to take a stand for the truth of the Word of God, join us next week, when we will look in more depth at the three things we need in order to stand against false teachings of the Gospel.