THE TWO LIONS
I TIMOTHY 6 AND II TIMOTHY
I THE TERRAIN OF LIFE
When the word is that of God who made us, there are certain results that one would expect in view of His majesty, knowledge and power (cf. SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5, 8-10). These include precise information, adapted to the knowledge and capacities of His creatures, when He chooses to speak, enduring truth; but on the other hand, one would expect in the end, calamity when this is confused with the mental productions of His creatures.
These things are well attested throughout the Bible, and in no small measure in I and II Timothy. In looking at this, we come to the two lions.
The first is growling with gruesome warning, as in I Timothy 6, lest we wander, and the second is instructing with simple clarity, so that we know what is NOT wandering, but the right track. Between them, they perform a most salutary office, and in so doing, they verify the word of God, giving it the office reason would suggest from His sublimity. History does the same in showing the results of ignoring these warnings and advices, these repulsions and impulsions, both when nations come into designated conflict with His word (as with Tyre, Babylon and Nineveh cf. SMR p. 713), and in more general terms, as with Japan in its rampaging in World War II and Russia in its provocative insolence in telling God to "get out").
II LION THE FIRST – AVOID THE FALSE WAY
What then does the Lord say concerning His teachings ?
In I Timothy 6, we find a list in verses 3-5 which is astonishing in its vigour and force, its decisive incisiveness and its scope. First however let us consider to what it refers.
In 6:1, following great emphasis in I Timothy 5 on what is seemly, orderly, organised and pure, we discover the topic of non-rebellion on the parts of slaves. Those who become Christians, says Paul, are not to become slack and lax, but to give an account fitting for those who are serviceable saints. Even if they have believing masters (6:2), they should serve in the spirit of love. In other words, the Marseillaise is not being sung by the apostle. He is not seeing the blood of those who are difficult, being used to sludge the fields. It must at once be realised, when one reads Philemon, that Paul is no less emphasising the love, tolerance, forbearance, to be shown in looking on those who are in one's power as slaves, as brothers in the Lord. Let us consider for a moment, that small epistle.
There a runaway slave is to be received back, with the congratulations of Paul for his wonderful aid given to him before he returned to his master, and the latter is exhorted to receive back his slave on account of the apostle: for if Paul helped the owner, so should the owner receive and welcome back the slave without evil to be done to him. Obviously, if Paul is to be so regarded in giving grace to the slave, by the owner, how much MORE is CHRIST is be regarded, who did so infinitely much more than any apostle could do, in bearing sin for all who come in faith to Him, and rising with eternal life in His gift. It is only a small step to see how the thing is to work out. WHO wants to be a slave ? WHAT brother would wish long to continue such a status for another of his family under his rule ? Grace, love and compassion, not force, is the prescription.
Very well. Some would however want uprisings and all the blood and mud resulting. Not so, says Paul. Christianity is not a religion of violence. That of course is no slightest excuse for any who do not see the true path of love, whether with the matter of slavery, an utter abhorrence, or any other field.
What however of those who wish to teach otherwise ? What of those who exhort to rebellion ? What of those who do not consent to the words of moderation, of wisdom, even those of the Lord Jesus Christ (as in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, where the emphasis is not on getting, but giving, not on self-display but on humility, not on enraged, engorged passion but on hungering and thirsting for righteousness) ? Paul in I Timothy 6 then enlarges on the implications for any who wish to be divorced from such a plateau of vision. WHAT PLATEAU of vision ? THIS: the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us survey the scene verbally for such a situation. The perpetrator of such rejection of the Lord's words is said to be:
· knowing nothing,
obsessed with disputes and arguments over words;
and this in turn leads to
· envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
· useless wranglings of men, men who are of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth,
people who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
. PROUD ? Is it not proud to contend with God about His own teaching.
KNOWING NOTHING ? Does not Paul in I Corinthians 8:2-3 declare this: "And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him." In other words, knowledgeability in spiritual things which is not bathed, immersed and sourced in the love of God is mere vanity, lacking depth, authenticity, perspective. In church terms, the perpetrator of such things, these excursions without the Saviour's company, is in essential regards, IGNORANT. IF anyone loves Me, Christ indicated, he will keep My words (John -23).
As a teacher, such a person is like a black hole.
OBSESSED WITH DISPUTES ... ? If you fight with God about what He thinks, what less are you doing ? If you find it necessary to argue with your Author when you come into His pages of history, this seems clearly to constitute a furore of misplaced fervour, a self-exaltation and an obsession instead of truth.
ARGUMENTS ABOUT WORDS ... ? This has been one of the worst features in much 'theology' which tries to seem godly, but in fact moves far from the word of God. One often finds people trying to import philosophy into the meaning of words, or issues relating, so that fact becomes lost in the passion of pronouncements of emptiness, of virtual vacuity.
Thus in the counsel of God when He declares that one must repent, He is not being playful, as if this were an obvious impossibility with which He charges impotent man! To be sure, it is beyond man so to act, but it is not at all beyond God so to know, foreknow and impart this grace WHERE IT BELONGS, for He is on record in His love for ALL, and His desire that ALL might be saved. Failure to repent is mere obsession with rebellion, which must find its own ultimate place!
ENVY, STRIFE, REVILING, SUSPICIONS ... ? Yes, where human philosophy is allowed to distort and eventually to declare contrary to the word of God, so that people in Christian clothes waylay others in the church, it leads to PARTIES (such as is forbidden in I Corinthians 3), yes even those who favour 'Paul' or 'Apollos'. It is NOT a question of the spokesman, but of the Speaker who inspires, who is God. Heaven forbid one should gain one's salvation through ANY but Christ, and from any written source, ultimately, but the Bible. What is the use of talking about the Bible if you do not even acknowledge what it says! Such is to be found not only in the State which puts forth magical ideas by law, to the poor children to this day, but in some churches, such as the Anglican, still sporting an Archbishop who TEACHES you can come to God without Christ! Perhaps we should compare HIS credentials with those of Christ!
So come strife, foolish and irrelevant contentions, and in due course, reviling.
Such things are USELESS WRANGLINGS.
When they come, it is a matter of being DESTITUTE OF THE TRUTH.
Many might think it PROFITABLE, a means of GAIN in some sense so to act - whether for a church, a seminary, or other, whether psychological or moral or ecclesiastical: but it is not. ONLY the word of God written brings gain for the kingdom, enduring riches of righteousness which alone are worth having in this field (cf. Proverbs ). Better than rubies and gold is this gain! (cf. Psalm 119:72 et al).
That is ONE LION! It WARNS, and how strong is its voice!
III LION THE SECOND – FOLLOW THE TRUE
In I Timothy 3:16, as we saw in the last chapter, there is one of the most beautiful, comprehensive and succinct references to the glory of God in the Gospel that one could wish to see; and here in II Timothy 3:16 there is the exposure of the status of the word of God in terms simple, express, explicit and sure, in summary and impactive form and formula. ALL SCRIPTURE, roars this tawny lion, IS GOD-BREATHED and PROFITABLE for DOCTRINE, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Now obviously the apostle is not telling us of this absolute standard in order that we should not know what it is. He is NOT saying that all scripture, in the case where it is God-breathed (undefined therefore) is so profitable. That would be rather like saying that all petrol is good for cars, provided that its hydro-carbon content is *^% , where these terms are not defined. It would be an appallingly useless, undefined, inexpressive jumble of sound, of no value, useless communication, a joke.
The character of inspiration has not been left unknown by Paul in I Corinthians 2:9-13, where first, the revelation in substance is conferred on the apostle, and then the words which provide the verbal assimilation of the revelation, these two are provided. Again in Psalm 119, again and again we find that ALL His testimonies are true, that they last for ever, are enshrined in heaven and such things, as shown in the above reference.
Again, the Greek simply states ALL SCRIPTURE GOD-INSPIRED AND PROFITABLE FOR TEACHING, then listing other features of this focus. The omission of the copula (is) is not unusual. There is no 'which' in the text, no designation of any division, let alone any second verb, which would again have to be added to make any sense of it at all – which is … is. There is no such clause.
Man is to "live by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). This is shown in Christ's dialogue with the devil, by its being absolutely final once cited, in the classic argumentation and confrontation. In the same way, in Acts , a given scripture is at once said to have come from God, in this way, "who by the mouth of Your servant David, has said..." What then ?
Naturally such a source would provide such a result in terms of being PROFITABLE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS AND GODLINESS, for who is more godly than God is Himself, or where is RIGHTEOUSNESS but in Him as its moral source and uttermost base!
Further, all scripture is profitable for CORRECTION. How could you correct if the source for correction were incorrect! or how correct if it were not even known, or how use a basis which was unbased, unclear or uncertain! Not so with Christ: one blast of the word of God written and even Satan was powerless. Again, all scripture is profitable for reproof; but how could you reprove if the basis of reproof were reprovable! Hence this lion is roaring: take it all, use it all, it is the basis, the blight for error, the standard for correction, the reservoir for instruction, the module for doctrine.
What it says is correct, clear, basic, assured, God-breathed and ipso facto God ordained, endorsed and provided. Just as departure from the word of God is most horrendous, that lion as we earlier saw roaring with a splendid organ-toned power, so the abiding in this word is wonderful, all of it, not some, all of the Bible in both testaments, not some, all that God has said, every word, not some of His words, whether one likes it or not, whether it hits favourite theories or not, whether it smacks one's hand when one ponders a possible course of action or not: IT IS PROFITABLE to correct, instruct, to show what is right, what is godly, what is rebukable.
THIS is what one would expect when the Maker of Man the Communicator, speaks to man the thinker, the one who engages in abstract thought, who makes rules, who has power to elect perspectives. Therefore avoid the tangling, wrangling use of YOUR thoughts or anyone else’s in place of those of God, and FOLLOW His will, words and ways, for in Him is life. ABIDE in Jesus Christ, and it is He who will confirm in you all His way (John -23).
For a broader treatment, see gracetoface4.html