|2 Timothy 2 |
1 Therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others.
3 Endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man who is engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life;1 so that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man competes in athletics, is he not crowned unless he strives according to the rules.
6 The farmer who labors must be the first to receive the fruits.
7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel,
9 For which I am suffering as a criminal, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, so that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 This is a faithful saying: If we have died with him, we will also live with him. [To have died with the Lord is to have had your sinful nature mortified and crucified on the inward cross of self-denial, and to have undergone the baptism of death: Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, Rom 6:4; and being buried with him in the true baptism, you also rise with him. Col 2:12. This is not to be presumed; it must be experienced.]
12 If we suffer, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us. [You must have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings; 1 Pet 4:12-13. Indeed, all who are determined to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Tim 3:12. For it is given to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake. Phil 1:29.]
13 If we do not believe, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
14 Remind people of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, which only leads to the undermining of the hearers.
15 Be diligent to stand near God, a pleasing worker having no cause to be ashamed, to make straight and smooth the sayings of God truly.2 [Paul is counseling Timothy to stay close to God so he can speak the sayings of God truly. All true preachers only speak the words that they hear God tell them to speak, and they speak in a straight (accurate) and smooth ( even, reverent) manner without emotion or theatrics.]
17 And their talk [false teachings] will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18 Who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past;3 and are destroying the faith of some people.
19 Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his." And, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ [calls himself a Christian] depart from iniquity [lawlessness, sin]." [Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 Cor 15:34. From the Word of the Lord within: "You cannot pass the moral commandments and be a Christian."]
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay, some for noble use and some for ignoble.
21 Therefore if a man purges himself from the latter, [iniquity, lawlessness, sin] he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified and ready for the master's use, and prepared for every good work. [By the word of truth, the mercy of grace, and suffering in tribulation, iniquity is purged from your heart and soul so that you are ready to obey His ordered works of righteousness to your joy and His glory.]
22 Flee youthful lusts; but aim at and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, in the company of those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. [Righteousness must be sought, pursued, and aimed at. We must seek His righteousness as the highest priority in our life. Mat 6:33. We must patiently wait, by faith, through the Spirit, for the hope of righteousness, Gal 5:5. Our obedience to what we hear the Lord speak to us leads to righteousness. Rom 6:16. Paul speaks of a fellowship with others who have a pure heart. Blessed are those are pure in heart for they shall see God, Mat 5:8; For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor 4:6.]
23 But avoid foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they produce strife.4
24 The servant of the Lord must not argue; but he must be gentle to all men, ready to teach, patient,
25 Calmly instructing those who oppose him; in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth;
26 So that they may escape from the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
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1 Social action is another form of religion. You take pride in being on "the correct side" of things. You feel righteous, but what you feel is really only an increase in pride, an increase in the flesh. Worldly activities count for nothing. Whatever you do in the flesh is not pleasing to God.
The Bible calls us to stay out of the world. Be in the world, but be not of the world. Your focus should be inward, not outward. You can spend your days on this earth in correcting "evil" or you can seek the will of God; until you are under his control and capable of understanding his instructions and carrying them out with his power. As the disciples were told by Jesus to "remain in Jerusalem waiting for power from on high", you are called to turn inside and seek the heavenly Jerusalem, seeking the light to change you into a vessel equipped with his power and suitable for his service. (Of the 650,000 Quakers, a very small percentage were preachers; most were middle class shop owners, laborers, soldiers, farmers, etc.; but all had an office in the Body of Christ, with their lives being shining examples of Christian virtue.)
Your removing of self from involvement in the world is not a betrayal of your "goodness," it is a commitment to seeking his will without outside competitions. We are not inactive when still seeking; we are called to express our faith in acts of love; giving to those in need, visiting the widows, assisting the orphans, acts of kindness to others, encouraging others in acts of love, and avoiding evil conduct and conversation ourselves. (Acts of love do not include protests, political activity, campaigning, promotion of any institution, etc.) A good soldier does not get involved in civilian affairs. Any action in your flesh to correct the evils of the world, however holy the motives seem to you; unless you have been specifically directed as above, will only retard or halt your spiritual progress -- whatever the purpose: slavery, women's rights, protecting the environment, prevention of cruelty to animals, anti-drug campaigns, alcohol abuse, child abuse, globalization, abortion, war, etc.
We are called to focus on the heavenly treasures, to turn inward seeking the light, to focus on what is beautiful, pure, noble, noteworthy of respect, truthful, and good. If we spend our energies and time in correcting evil, we miss the opportunity to be changed inwardly. After we are changed, then we can toil together with God in the causes of his choice; and there will be causes, but he will be the one who orders our activities — His Will, not ours.
If you think you are "called" to do something, I ask you: Where in the Bible does it speak of being "called," as you use it? Called is to be summoned or named. The Bible has not a single reference to "called" being something that God is requiring you to do, except to come to Him. When he wants you to do something, he gives you commands and orders; not a feeling, a desire, a burden, a door opening, a draw, or a "call." This word is thrown around by some sects to justify anything anybody feels an inclination to do, as being "called." When you are led by God to do something, he tells you exactly what to do and exactly when to do it.
2 Be diligent to stand near God, a pleasing worker having no cause to be ashamed, to make straight and smooth the sayings of God truly. This has typically been translated as Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; and is commonly then thought that the word of truth is the Bible, as Christendom believes in error. Yet the original Greek for this verse is logon <3056>, of which the primary definition is the speech of a living voice, and can also be the sayings of God. This verse is another example of how true preachers speak words from the Spirit as they hear them. So Paul is counseling Timothy to be diligent to stand next to God. Why?—so that he can clearly hear God speaking. To stand next to God is similar to abiding in His word or light. Then Timothy was to relay the words heard from God in a straight and smooth manner and truly. Words heard from God should be spoken without human-added theatrics or emotion, as in straight and smooth (accurate, even, reverent). Words from God have power in themselves without any need of emotion from the speaker.
It is the devil that has taught man to speak with theatrics and emotion, and the world values such public speakers. But if the words were really true, there would be no need to wave hands, pound the podium, make faces, raise and lower the voice, vary the tempo, move the body: all of which are classically illustrated by Adolph Hitler, who was unfortunately a captivating orator. In contrast, close your eyes and imagine how Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount: with evenness, with humility, with self-control, with gentleness, with reverence, with respect for speaking words supplied by God; the words themselves are the power.
Paul said, "my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, so that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God;" 1 Cor 2:4-5, and he warns us of preachers and teachers who "by fair speaking and captivating language deceive the hearts of the simple." Rom 6:18.
In the book, Pagan Christianity?,* the authors describe how Christianity was taken over by Greek orators, who started the practice of preaching sermons between 100 AD and 150 AD, (making speeches), in every service; and these orators were so polished in their emotional speeches, that they often received standing ovations. Describing why people pick a particular sect to attend, the Word of the Lord within said, "The reason people go to deficit sects' services is because of a charming preacher." Woe to you, when all men speak well of you! For so did their forefathers to the false prophets. Luke 6:26.
* Pagan Christianity?'s authors, Frank Viola and George Barna, did a wonderful, scholarly work of tracing the devolution of Christianity, clearly identifying and extensively documenting the pagan source of almost every detail in today's Christianity. However, they failed to: 1) identify Christianity of having become Babylon, 2) identify the most evil, most damaging lie in Christianity — calling the Bible the Word, 3) identify the true gospel of Christ, and 4) identify the way to attain the promises of the gospel. Instead they promoted home churches as the cure-all for the disaster, called Christianity; which disaster they had expertly painted. Their home church services were described as people taking turns talking from their carnal minds about their experiences with the Lord, some singing when they desired. Their described service is an imitation of the worship described in 1 Cor 14:29-33; however, a true service is controlled by the Holy Spirit with no one speaking or singing unless the Holy Spirit is clearly in control of their words. From the Word of the Lord within: "A word spoken from the Spirit requires you to hear what the Spirit says to you; speak only what you are told to speak."
3 Who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and are destroying the faith of some people. Today's preachers deny Christ's resurrection within a purified believer is even possible.
4 But avoid foolish and unlearned questions, knowing that they produce strife. Beware of those who pose questions of minor importance. If you are asked pointless questions, avoid answering them. These immature people are ambitious and seek controversy, which draws some other immature members away with them and their new doctrines. They should be answered: when you have a need to know, the Lord will reveal it to you. They should be afterwards reproved in private for asking immaterial questions that don't relate to the process of attaining maturity in Christ, which is by daily silent waiting on the Lord, listening, watching, hearing, seeing, and repenting, which results in growing strength and understanding. See Stephen Crisp's letter on this subject for more information on how this is the tool of the enemy: to create some immaterial controversy, until the weighty matter they should have minded, namely how to be kept in the love of God, and in the heavenly unity, was lost and forgotten in many.
An example of such irrelevant discussions is: When do we obtain our heavenly bodies? Or: Did Christ descend into Hell before ascending to Heaven? Neither question relates to seeking the changing, purifying grace of God.
But avoid foolish disputes, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.
Reject a man who is divisive after a first and second admonition, Titus 3:9-10
If someone has reservations about the Scriptures, don't preach, teach, or talk about them; instead remain silent, waiting on the Lord to reveal the knowledge required when you need it. Trust your Teacher to provide you knowledge when you need it; but you must trust his judgment, not your intellectual curiosity that seeks puffed up knowledge. Remember, many of the early Quakers were shown the details and mysteries of the scriptures by Christ as they entered paradise, the Kingdom of God. Fox stated that he had little knowledge prior to Christ's personally instructing him after he entered the Kingdom. From the Word of the Lord within: "I will open the Bible to you." So seek the Kingdom as your highest priority; you don't need to understand every nuance of scripture to arrive at your goal. Use the scriptures for hope; and until you are being instructed by the Holy Spirit, use the scriptures for your understanding of what sin is, helping you avoid as many as possible.
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