2 Timothy 1-4, Psalm 22
Oprah Winfrey believes "God is in all things", saying, "One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way...there are many paths to what you call God", also saying, "I am a Christian who believes that there are certainly many more paths to God other than Christianity." Joel Osteen preaches the "theology of victory", which sums up the "name it and claim it", "health and wealth" prosperity gospel message that he preaches. "Seeker friendly" churches looking to bring unbelievers in by offering light messages, such as "12 steps to improve your love life" to entertain people and increase their numbers. While most mainstream denominations are large on ritual with only a small segment of the service given to a homily or sermon. Those messages and readings are topical and many books of the Bible are never touched, leaving the body of congregants ignorant concerning the Bible. So with this potpourri of options, how do we know where to turn to for truth.
Final words are significant, and 2 Timothy represents Paul's final words. Paul stayed true to the end of his life saying in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." Life is long with many detours, Paul will impart to Timothy his advice on staying strong to the end by staying in God's Word. Paul tells us "that in the last days,... "men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters,..., despisers of good,...,haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!...always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 3:1-7). He goes further in 4:3-4, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." This is certainly our current state in society and in the church at large. Paul saw it creeping into the church then, and he knew that it would only get worse. Paul tells Timothy to combat this not timidly, but in strength and conviction in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." Paul directs Timothy in 4:2, how to combat these falsehoods creeping in, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." Unless the church awakens from it's Biblical stupor and illiterate state, we are in no position to help ourselves from all the false teachings out there, or help others escape it. Without the actual Word, all we can do is state our opinions against others, and with no standard of truth, the better debater wins. But Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." The answer was as true then as it is now, the Word, the Word, the Word; nothing less and nothing more.
When I share Jesus with others, I often ask them if they know what the gospel message is. These people primarily represent those in mainstream churches, but also agnostics and people of other faiths. Interestingly, in all the years I can probably count on one hand the number of people who have even come close to being able to articulate it. This is the core message in Christianity, is it any wonder that people are defenseless from all the perverse teachings out there. When my daughter, Elizabeth, was in 3rd grade, I taught her to be able to recite all 66 books of the Bible in order. She was going to Catholic School at the time, and wanted to show the principal, Sister Ann, what she knew. When she finished with the 66 books, the principal said without interest that she missed one or two. How can children grow when there is no excitement for God's Word. As we come to the end of going through the Bible in one year, this year, in anticipation of doing it again next year, let's all visualize one person to invite along in the journey, whom we can share with and disciple. This is truly the gift of life. As Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Now that we have completed it this year, teach someone next year; Paul's advice to Timothy is just as relevant today.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: