AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH –
September 11, 2005
II Timothy 3-4
A STUDY IN SLUMP AND SPIRITUALITY
And a TONIC from the BIBLICAL TRUTH
AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH – September 11, 2005
I Outcasts, Impostors and Divine Imprint - II Timothy 3:1-9
In II Timothy 3:1-5, you see a spiritual X-ray of “the last days” before Christ returns, and its burden is what you now see: formalism, hypocrisy, self-centred hedonism, hatreds, sexual miscreancy and brutalities coupled with a despising of goodness; and even religious people will indulge their passions, ‘learning’ but never learning the truth. Many denominations now appear to be forsaking truth, pursuing popularity and convenience, and to be riddled with professional corruption. Their sins will “become manifest to all” (3:9), for indeed they will be “depraved and deprived of the truth” (3:8); and it is thus well to expose them, seeing their coming as a signal the end is near, in the whole context of a returned Israel, the Jews ruling Jerusalem and Gentile millions slain with them (Luke 21:24, Matthew 24, Revelation 6-8).
II Fervour, Fables and Function - II Timothy 3:10 -17,4:4
The apostle is now able to give his life as a contrary to all this: its manner, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love and perseverance (3:10). More, so far from merely becoming bent or prostrate to the mere enjoyment of his lusts, he has stood upright, so that he has even been persecuted, in many towns or cities – in one, Lystra, he was stoned and left for dead – and he adds that IF you are living a godly life, it is CERTAIN that you will suffer persecution. Black does not bless white, when grey is excluded!
Despite the prediction that ungodly men, even impostors, are to become a rash, Timothy is to continue in what he has been faithfully taught, knowing that ALL scripture is inspired by God, God-breathed. You do not need to hunt: it is PROVIDED. The thing is to USE it and not LOSE it, to DO it and not RUE it, so that the man of God becomes well-equipped as a viable soldier, sure-footed, stable and steadfast.
III Victory amid Vice - II Timothy 4:1-18
Paul challenges to an opposite example to the licentiousness and ill-spirited maladies foretold, before the face of that Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will examine living and dead at His coming and in His Kingdom. Preach, he exhorts, teach, exhort, rebuke, not giving up, but enduring with longsuffering: for the time will come, says Paul, when “they will not endure sound doctrine”. Instead, with their “itching ears”, they will heap up for themselves, preachers to reach or even preach and teach their lust-levels.
This helping their debasement – and precisely is this now being fulfilled! – they will turn their ears away from hearing truth, preferring the folly of mere fables: and this we see in the
litanies of organic evolution in its abysmal dreaming, as of
world government, the pretended cure for all ills, as it reaches ever new lows of morality, currently in the case against Annan’s son, with abundant evidence of discourses between father and son during the corruption. If proof does not appear evident, a staggering deal does!
Nor is this all.
Buddhism with its founder rejecting deity, to which one branch in their midst wishes
to elevate Buddha himself in an inglorious confusion, his foundations empty of explanation
of what is founded, a mere way of life in darkness, removing the very possibility
of truth and proclaiming this true: they have made a move.
Now in the National Geographic of November 2000 we see a statue, a sitting statue of Buddha, to be sitting atop a 17 story building, a 500 foot construction, far larger than the Statue of Liberty, a shroud and cover for a building complex, the statue itself uncovered from the elements, set above such things as prayer halls, museum, art. A mere reported 200 million dollars, spent amidst poverty: this is the fee for this construction, one with varied other statues of Buddha and preparations for his alleged future descent from 'emptiness', even the man who did not believe in God (cf. SMR pp. 995-1026)! Yet a 'place' cannot be very empty if he is there, nor very void if it be a place! Nor is there holding place without God, nor hope in Him, by empty talk. He who made the world in brilliance, does not reside in vacant dreams, but where He states, and is to be found as He has shown for millenia, and exhibited in practical terms in Jesus Christ.
Thus Paul's prediction that they could not at the last days, endure sound doctrine, Christ's that then too there would be many false christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:24), both are fulfilled on all sides, in sects, in churches once sound, now inventing their own moral and dogmatic teachings, in resurgences of Islam with its violence that sunders, and as here, of Buddhism as empty of ground as is Communism, which has had its little gods with their large cars, like Brezhnev, and their empty exchequers, bringing them down to realm of bankruptcy.
Maker of empty fables, man now comes of age, and that age appears to be his dotage, as foretold in II Timothy 4:4. Living with fables, rusty with unrealism, conducting himself amorally, forsaking with his precious liberty, the love of God who provided it at the first, it is small wonder that mankind, unkind in increasing devotion to itself and its lusts of mind, spirit and flesh, is harrowed with helplessness, as he seeks witlessly to manipulate both the power of God in the atom, and the principles of God in wilfulness.
Indeed it is, if possible, even worse, in the fulfilment to the letter of Paul's predictions concerning the time before Christ returns, as planned from the first, and announced before He first came (Zechariah 12, 14, Isaiah 59, Malachi 3). Via evolutionary myths, empty words never verified, immersing itself in 'nature' ex-God, this wayward world builds other projects. In its endless temples, we see what the organic evolutionists make with their litanies of devotion no less, to this accursed globe, ignoring the clear salvation provided, making their peace with the things that are, not the Maker, teaching, preaching, lecturing, enforcing this froth even on the children.
Such evolutionists too have their religion, the priests and preachers in nearly every university, TV station, radio network, in schools, colleges. Their sacrifices are those of their own souls, and of those who, continuing misled, follow them. This is a modern Moloch who devours children.
In useless sacrifices of truth, West and East often join. Thus one famous search engine, data base company has been reported to have yielded a personal name to the ruthless, nature-loving regime ruling China, that one which hates Falun Gong and recklessly imprisons many of those who do not deny the spirit with which they reason and err, yes but rather seek freedom: one in which they might indeed seek God.
That name which the company yielded to Chinese authorities ? By report, it is that of someone using their commercial base to criticise on the Webh, errors in approaches to liberty in China. Reported result: ten years in prison for him.
The reported plea of the company: We have to obey the laws of the country in which we work. Unfortunately, they do not seem to see any need to obey the rules of the created race in which they exist, to have regard for each other, let alone the God who made it. Christ did not obey the 'rules' of the Temple staff who cried for His murder, nor did Peter and John! There are higher sanctities than those for one's own benefit, as God is higher than the earth.
It thus appears that here as often, business may sacrifice morality to continuity, even to the point of giving up man to the Communist regime, one without God, but with a philosophy which has sacrificed man already, yes, and that under Stalin, for example, by the millions.
Is this far better than denying Him direct ? Did not ancient Israel in profession accept Him, but in works deny Him! (cf. Isaiah 1, 3:14-15, 5:7)
In the last of these, we read of such an attitude as it once existed in ancient Israel:
"For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah his pleasant plant:
and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression;
for righteousness, but behold a cry."
Whether then it be to false doctrine of one kind or another, false christs or prophets here or there, "fables" - a word to be translated equally, deceits - as Paul proclaims, finding truth unendurable, the people of these last days MUST turn aside; for so it was foretold. From the truth they turn to whatever confused rigmarole, mythical machination or ideological dream that may appeal.
Does this signify they are forced to be foolish ? Not at all, for the disease is well-known to God, and its symptoms in rejecting Him have been foretold for millenia, and man warned for the same time. So does God rule, reminding, appealing, warning, providing.
To be sure there is a coming in power to rule of the Christ, foretold long before Buddha ever denied God (around 6th century B.C.), indeed from the first as in Genesis 3:15. It was provided abundantly in testable detail for Christ's first coming, indeed given four hundred years earlier than Buddha, in the Psalms; and it was given centuries before him, again, in Isaiah. This return of Christ IS coming, just as His coming to die was to come, and came! Of His return, all the many and verifiable signals are flapping in the strengthening breeze.
It is not an atheist who comes from emptiness, but the Son of God who comes from heaven (Acts 3:19-21, Matthew 24-25) to judge! just as, at the date predicted by Daniel (Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), He came to die for sin, to justify believers in Him, at first. For the date of His return, no date is assigned, but unexpected suddenness is! We are warned to be ready.
God plans, performs and acts. It is cardinally unwise to turn aside to fables (II Timothy 4:4), to become intolerable of truth, to itch for false doctrine.
Against such puffs, then, one must move rapidly to another wind in another area (II Timothy 4:5), present the Gospel, reach sinners with it, being sound in doctrine and dealings alike. Paul saw himself as a 'drink offering', poured out like the oil and fruit of the vine, with burnt offerings (though not with trespass or sin offerings!), a savour to accompany sacrifice, a lead to fellowship and a sweetness to garnish the burning (II Timothy 4:6, Exodus 29:40-41). His time for departure appeared to be drawing near, and the entire rendering of his life and service to God had nothing withheld, a liquid poured out in the vessel of life.
Such is his apostolic example, not INSTEAD of our own, but as a stimulus to it; for as Christ had done all, so there should be withheld from Him, nothing. Instead, each one as His servant, and all, His redeemed, should whole-hearted, gladly yield life to His command; for He is a leader, a commander and a witness to the people (Isaiah 55:4, Revelation 1:5, II Corinthians 2:14).
Paul as a leader has suffered vastly: but has fought a good fight and will receive a crown of righteousness which will be given. It is first of all a DONATION (given – II Timothy 4:8), but secondly it does not jar with the life he led once converted, for although he was far from sinless, his Christian character was outstanding and his devotion to duty phenomenal. This crown is for “all who have loved His appearing”, for God is love; but where the love for Christ rules, reality opens its wings (John 14:21-23). The apostle then notes Alexander the coppersmith’s heady efforts to nail his coffin in the trial, but
“the Lord stood with me and strengthened me”.
In fact, he uses this debased threat to show his faith, the sort that moves mountains (4:18):
“the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.”
While Paul spoke of the challenges he faced and endured, it is great to note that Luke stayed with him, loyal reporter and heavenly minded friend, and that Mark, who earlier had failed in his first missionary venture by early packing bags for home before it was finished, is so useful that even at that advanced hour in his perils and work, Paul calls for him to come and help! Here is a devil’s defeat, failure turned to triumph, and WHAT a triumph, for Mark with Peter was used to make one of the four most famous books in the world, the GOSPELS, under the inspiration of the Lord Himself!
Thus we see lessons in fearless continuance, inveterate victoriousness of spirit, gracious lowliness of mind, encouragement to hope for the end, as also in having willingness to work with one and all who love the Lord and follow His precepts, and in the life of faith which WORKS by KNOWING the Lord and so SOWING His word and GLOWING with His internal presence by His Spirit (Colossians 1:27).
Is YOUR meat to do His will ? and hence to KNOW it ? and hence to STUDY His word and SPEND TIME with Him spiritually in no rushed manner, waiting on Him for His leading in all things, in nothing vexed by mere impossibilities, as the flesh regards them, but fresh in spirit, filled with joy at His presence and His nearing appearance ?
Have you loved His appearing and do you look expectantly for His return ? (Hebrews 9:28).
Are you praying with one heart with His people ? (Acts 4:23ff.).
Is the support of His kingdom works more important to you than your own! Does the rattle of the spiritual sabre of those who confront you, rather raise your morale than crush it, since your trust is in the Lord, to whom the righteous run as to a safe stronghold, and are safe!
Do you LIVE your religion, and is your religion CHRIST JESUS, resurrected, real and spiritually dynamic, crucified in weakness, coming in power ?
Paul urges us to FOLLOW his example (in I Corinthians 11:1). Thus, while we all have different spiritual gifts and talents, using what we have to the uttermost is the plan. Remember the talents, and the one who had five bringing five, while the one who had one, sulked and did nothing much!
Learn from this that we need originality, imagination, fearless courage, to act and to know in whom and for whom we are acting! The sea is powerful and you see this in its surges: not in its inactivity.
Let us therefore abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that we are
“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour,
Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us
that He might redeem us from every lawless deed,
and purify for Himself His own special people,
zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13).
He is a great God, and the only God, and to serve Him with diligence, in His dynamic, praying in spirit, working with grace, fashioned by love, through the salvation received: this is a gift better than that of any gold-mine, and a glory that dwarfs any invention or investment of man. Try the OPPOSITES to the evils of II Timothy 3:1-5, for every vice, discovering the contrary virtue … purity, reliability, self-sacrifice for Him! When our lives SHOW such things, then we show we KNOW Him.