|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. Like the resurrection of Lazarus, after you undergo the baptism of death, the Lord calls you by name to "come forth." This is not to be presumed; it must be experienced.]
12 If we endure suffering, 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. [There is no one-time resurrection of the dead for all men of all ages that Christianity teaches, for as Paul wrote: "And when we were (past tense) dead in our sins, He brought (past tense) us to life in union and fellowship with Christ; it is through grace that you are saved; And has raised (past tense) us up together [with Christ], and made (past tense) us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Eph 2:5-6.]
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. The purpose of becoming a Christian is to do works according to the will of God: so that thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Mat 6:10]
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 No man who is engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life; so that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
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. 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, it 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, hunger, globalization, abortion, war, etc.
From the Word of the Lord within: "You can spend your time trying to correct evil, or you can spend your time seeking me. Forgo the world. In no way do I diminish those who spend time reading the web site. Practice random acts of kindness." Notice the word random in the previous message. Random is the opposite of systematic, scheduled, continuous, periodic, etc. Why? So that you will not become so occupied with your efforts that you lose the necessary focus of seeking God with all you heart; and to sit, wait, watch, listen, and obey. So with our excess we respond in secret with kindness to those in need that come in front of our face, and/or we can financially support charities; but we don't take up a cause that absorbs our time. Until you have seen Jesus appear in your heart to guide you and bring your salvation, ignore any messages you hear that order or encourage you to spend significant time away from waiting on Him.
We satisfy those randomly encountered needs only if we have excess funds to satisfy them; and if possible, we should restrain our own expenditures, so that we have excess funds available — in other words, we should always maintain savings so that we can respond randomly to those needs that we encounter randomly. Aside from being able to respond to randomly encountered needs of kindness, financial common sense is to also maintain savings to respond to unanticipated expenses necessary for our own lives; so we don't give away any of that necessary cushion of savings. Further, if we are a business owner, we also maintain significant savings so that our business can survive and/or adjust if there is a downturn in demand or some crisis that reduces our revenue; neither do we give away any of that necessary cushion of savings.
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.
However holy our fleshly social actions feel, they only puff-up our pride — the opposite of what God desires for us. Seek first the kingdom. Mat 6:33. There is only one thing needful: to sit at His feet and listen to His words that he speaks to us. Luke 10:39,42. From the Word of the Lord within: "He told us it was not enough to seek God, we must seek with all our heart and soul. You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart."
Based on the advice of Edward Burrough, (click to read), a giant in the early Quakers, until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy, we should do nothing for the Lord but repent.* When we can hear the Voice of the Lord, we walk in the light; and William Penn wrote, "Though it is the duty of all to walk in the light, and to wait for it, that by it they may be instructed in the way of life and salvation, yet it is they only who are actually led** by it, that can rightly discern between the false spirits and the true."
* Any command to repent from the Lord should be first pure, then peaceable, fair, gentle, easily accepted, full of mercy and good fruits, immediately understood, and sincere. James 3:17
** By way of review: to be guided or led by the light, the light must first arise in your heart like a magnificent star, so that you are shown everything to do and told everything to say; the unmistakable arising of the light comes from faith in the voice.
There is a voice of the Lord like thunder over the waters described in many Old Testament passages. This is radically different than the small still voice we hear from within our hearts or from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the Word of the Lord within speak with words from Jesus, so we are hearing from the Son of God. But until we can truly hear the Voice of the Lord, we will not know for sure it is the Lord speaking to us. From the Word of the Lord within: "You will always have doubts until you hear His voice. My voice is like thunder over waters. You will hear His voice when He calls you." We will hear the Lord's voice like thunder over waters for the first time after we have submitted to the baptism of fire and death to then be called forth and resurrected with Him as a new creature. Then, as John 10:3-5 states: we will know his voice, he will lead us out of the world to the kingdom, and we will flee from other voices. When you hear His voice for the first time, you have passed over from death to life; and once you have heard His voice like thunder over waters, you will always know whether or not it is the Lord speaking to you.
We first have to listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of the Lord within to hear and obey His many teachings and commands. Then with long persistence and patience in doing obedient works of repentance, we experience the baptism of fire and death, to then hear the Voice of the Lord as we pass from death to life. Until then, we have to be on our guard to not be deceived by the enemy, pretending to be the Lord speaking to us. This is why, until we can distinguish between the voice of the Lord and the voice of the enemy, we should only follow commands heard that urge us to repent from our behaviors we understand to be wrong.
You may hear the Lord tell you to go ahead with your considering to buy something or do something that you feel is necessary; and providing it is nothing that you know to be wrong, or it is nothing He has told you not to do in the past, you can follow His suggestions before you can distinguish His voice. If you don't need what you are considering to purchase, He may plainly tell you, "you don't need it." If it is not necessary to do something you are considering, He may tell you, "it's not necessary." If it is necessary and/or needed, he may encourage you to proceed.
A "call" is particularly used by preachers, who have "heard the call." Being touched by God, or having a spiritual experience, is not his call to be a preacher; it is a summons to seek him: Many are called, few are chosen. Far, far too many people interpret a touch by God to mean he wants us to work for him in a non-secular job; this is not true. He wants us to stay where we are, making as few changes as possible in our life, so that we can hear him more easily as we try to quiet our minds to listen for his teachings and commands. And if we start preaching or teaching before we are perfected and directly commanded to, our spiritual progress is stopped dead.
As Christians, we are told the world is passing away for us, so we don't need to keep up with its problems. When we step into the Kingdom of Heaven, which is another dimension, the world, as we see it, is gone; we see from another dimension, even though our bodies are still here on earth. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us and around us; it is another dimension of reality. Everything we now see will be gone from our sight. (Physicists tells us there are several other dimensions than the three + time we see.)
So, we are called to come out of the world and turn inward; to stop thinking about things in the world and think about heavenly things; to give to the poor and build up treasure in heaven. We are to focus on Christ and to focus on loving our neighbor. Being kind to our neighbor. Forgiving our neighbor. Loving our neighbor. Loving everyone at work; they are our neighbor too. Loving every person we come into contact with, (kind, cordial, polite, but not socializing with them), because they all have the light of Christ within them and we are loving Christ when we love them. We are called to follow peace with all men. If we are protesting, we are not following peace with all men. Heb 4:12, 2 Tim 2:22. We are called to be apolitical — having no political opinions. We are called to not put our faith, hopes, resources, or efforts in any worldly power, person, or cause. This is not being callous to the world's problems; for we know that by dying to self, and becoming a soldier under orders from Christ with his power to help us — then we can be more effective than one hundred lifetimes without God's direction and power.
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.
There is no one-time resurrection of the dead for all men of all ages that Christianity teaches, for as Paul wrote: "And when we were (past tense) dead in our sins, He brought (past tense) us to life in union and fellowship with Christ; it is through grace that you are saved; And has raised (past tense) us up together [with Christ], and made (past tense) us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Eph 2:5-6. Paul and some of the Ephesians had already been resurrected from being dead in their sins.
Because of Adam, we all are dead in our sins, dead to the life of God, Gen 2:17,3:24, having been cut off from the tree of life. To pass from death to life, we first have to listen to the Holy Spirit and the word of the Lord within to hear and obey His many teachings and commands. Then with long persistence and patience in doing obedient works of repentance, we experience the baptism of fire and death, to then hear the Voice of the Lord like thunder over waters as we pass over from death to life and into the kingdom.
From the Word of the Lord within: "Christ is actually resurrected in every person that comes to Him and obeys Him repetitively. With persistent and faithful obedience, you too will be raised."
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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