Sun, Dec 30, 2007

Rightly Divide the Word! II Timothy 2:15-19

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
RIGHTLY DIVIDE THE WORD!
II TIMOTHY 2:15-19

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to II Timothy chapter 2 as we take a departure from our study in Genesis this morning. With the start of the New Year only a few days away, I believe it is important for us as Christians to reflect back on the past year and look forward to the New Year.

            Now in saying that I also believe we need to be prepared for what is ahead, to stand strong in the faith because now, more than any other time in church history I believe, there is a battle for the truths of God found in the Word of God. Thus, I pray that our study this morning will help prepare us to stand strong in the days we are living in and if you doubt that this is an issue, the false doctrine that is coming into the church, remember what Jesus said in Luke 18:8,“ . . . Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?  I see that battle beginning now and thus, we need to be prepared!

            Before we get to our text this morning let me share with you a New Year’s message that was written by A. W. Tozer. We are told:

            A. W. Tozer, long-time editor of the Alliance Witness, once penned this greeting for the cover of the January 1, 1938, edition of his magazine, and it was reprinted on the cover for the New Year’s edition in 1979. It read in part:

            While all the promises of God are true and precious, yet it is good to take them one by one and especially commit ourselves to them.  If you ask God to give you a special message for the opening year, one that will be made seasonable and real in every exigency [emergency or demand] of the unknown future, you will be surprised how faithfully He will fulfill His Word, and how fittingly the Holy Spirit will speak to you of things to come, and anticipate the real needs and exigencies of your life.

- A. W. Tozer, Alliance Witness, January 1, 1938

            The point here is simple. Don’t make New Year’s resolutions but allow God to guide you in all that you do. Hold fast to His Word, His promises and then walk by faith because what God has promised He is more than able to bring to pass. With that said, let’s begin reading in II Timothy chapter 2, beginning in verse 15 and see what the Lord has for us as we prepare for the New Year!

II TIMOTHY 2:15-19

            When Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy he was in prison in Rome and he was awaiting his execution, being put to death for his faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, what Paul is writing here is not fluff but words of encouragement and warning to a young pastor. You might say it is his last will and testament!

            And in these verses we read this morning there are four main points that Paul is making.  He tells Timothy to BE DILIGENT – II TIMOTHY 2:15. Then he tells Timothy toAVOID DISTRACTIONS – II TIMOTHY 2:16. He next tells Timothy to AVOID FALSE TEACHERS – II TIMOTHY 2:17-18.  And lastly he tells Timothy to BE STRONG IN GOD’S WORD – II TIMOTHY 2:19.  I like the way that this plays out here. He is toAVOID these things and to do that he needs to BE!  Thus, with the remainder of our time this morning we are going to be looking at these four points so we can redeem the time we have and BE strong in the Lord!

1.  BE DILIGENT – II TIMOTHY 2:15

            Paul tells Timothy and us that we need to be diligent or SPOUDAZO, (spoo-dad’-zo) in the Greek and it carries with it the idea of giving your maximum effort, to do your best. And notice the focus here, give your best effort, your maximum effort in the study of God’s Word or the Word of truth!

            If you do that then you will not need to be ashamed.” The idea here is if you are teaching anything that is not of God, anything not found in the Word of God, then you will be ashamed before God because you have not given your maximum effort but have succumbed to the philosophies and ideas of the world!  Paul warned us in Colossians 2:8-10, Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

            Listen to how strongly The Amplified Bible puts these verses, See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). For in Him the whole fullness of Deity (the Godhead) continues to dwell in bodily form [giving complete expression of the divine nature]. And you are in Him, made full and having come to fullness of life [in Christ you too are filled with the Godhead — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — and reach full spiritual stature]. And He is the Head of all rule and authority [of every angelic principality and power]. Thus, false teachers are not to be commended but they will be condemned before God, they will be ashamed!

            But, if you are diligent in your study of God’s Word and faithfully teach and share God’s Word, then you will present yourself approved to God.  The words present yourself come from the Greek word, PARISTEMI, (par-is’-tay-mee) and it speaks of standing alongside and the idea here is that if you are faithfully teaching, sharing God’s Word, then you are standing alongside God, something we all should desire!

            The most beneficial study of God’s Word requires diligence and perseverance, but the results are worth the effort. A.B. Simpson said, “God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is a reward to the diligent, a prize to the earnest, but a disappointment to the slothful soul. All nature is arrayed against the lounger and the idler. The nut is hidden in its thorny case; the pearl is buried beneath the ocean waves; the gold is imprisoned in the rocky bosom of the mountains; the gem is found only after you crush the rock which encloses it; the very soil gives its harvest as a reward to the laboring farmer. So truth and God must be earnestly sought.”

- A. B. Simpson

            And Paul tells us that we are approved or DOKIMOS, (dok’-ee-mos) in the Greek and the idea here is that you have been proven worthy after testing. Notice the comparison here. Those who are not diligent and who are teaching false doctrine have been tested in the light of God’s Word and they are ashamed. But, for those who are diligent and are faithfully teaching God’s Word, they have been tested in the light of God’s Word and have been found worthy, they need not be ashamed!

            Paul makes this point in I Thessalonians 2:1-9, where he tells us, For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. . . .

. . . But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness — God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” You see, if you faithfully teach God’s Word, if you faithfully share God’s Word, you will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant” because you have given maximum effort in dividing the Word of truth!

            What does it mean to divide or to handle accurately the Word of truth, the Bible? Rightly dividing comes from the Greek Word, ORTHOTOMEO, (or-thot-om-eh’-o) and it speaks of any task that required a straight line.  This word was used for cutting a straight line with a saw or for making a straight path through the woods or mountains, or for cutting straight a cloth or leather and-so-on. Thus, the idea here is that every teacher, all of us must be committed to handling the Word of God accurately, to rightly divide or cutting it straight. Paul put it like this in II 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.  God’s Word is truth and thus, it needs to be studied, shared and taught accurately!

An unknown writer said, "This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.

- Source Unknown

            So our first point is that we must be diligent in studying and speaking forth the Words of God, to rightly divide it or cut it straight. We need to speak forth the truths of God found in the Word of God and as we do we will not be ashamed but we have been tested by the light of God’s Word and found worthy!

          It is as Paul told Timothy, I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 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. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  Thus, BE DILIGENT!  

2.  AVOID DISTRACTIONS – II TIMOTHY 2:16

          Paul gives to us a warning that we are to avoid or should shun profane and idle babblings.  The word avoid or shun means to “keep clear of” or to “avoid.” Now listen carefully here, we are to avoid, we are to stay clear of “profane” or worldly chatter. The idea here is the common, unholy talk of men, profane chatter!

          It is not only profane chatter but it is empty or idle babblings. In other words these idle babblings will yield no beneficial return. In fact, it brings forth ungodly things. And did you notice that once the door is open to these things, more and more rush in and I truly believe the idea that Paul is driving home is ungodly conduct is always the fruit of ungodly doctrine!

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev used to tell of a time when there was a wave of petty theft in the Soviet Union. To curtail this the authorities put up guards around the factories. At one timber works in Leningrad, the guard knew the workers in the factory very well. The first evening, out came Pyotr Petrovich with a wheelbarrow and, on the wheelbarrow, a great bulky sack with a suspicious-looking object inside.

“All right, Petrovich,” said the guard, “what have you got there?”

“Oh, just sawdust and shavings,” Petrovich replied.

“Come on,” the guard said, “I wasn’t born yesterday. Tip it out.” And out came nothing but sawdust and shavings. So he was allowed to put it all back again and go home. When the same thing happened every night of the week the guard became frustrated. Finally, his curiosity overcame his frustration.

“Petrovich,” he said, “I know you. Tell me what you’re smuggling out of here, and I’ll let you go.”

“Wheelbarrows, my friend, “ said Petrovich, “wheelbarrows.”

- Quoted in The Devil’s Gauntlet, Os Guiness

            Think about it. How did the approval of homosexuality get into the church?  How did sexual sin get ignored in the church?  How did the New Age and eastern mysticism get into the church?  How did Yoga get into the church?  And we can go on-and-on but you get the idea and this was all done under the camouflage of the truth mixed with lies, wheelbarrows you might say!  It was brought in right under our noses and many did not even see it coming!

            Thus, Paul warns Timothy and he is warning us that we need to avoid these distractions because empty words end up becoming evil words and they keep spiraling downward and not upward.  Useless talk and useless matters will become wicked talk!  Words that are not of God soon become unholy words! Thus, AVOID DISTRACTIONS!

3.  AVOID FALSE TEACHERS – II TIMOTHY 2:17-18

            Isn’t it amazing how popular false teachers are and those who teach the truths of God found in the Word of God are not. Why do you think that is?  Because people would rather have their ears tickled than their heart pricked by the Word of God!

            Paul tells us these false doctrines will spread like cancer or in the Greek it is GAGGRAINA, (grang’-grahee’nah) or literally gangrene. Paul is saying that these false doctrines consume a person and destroy the faith of some and the idea is, those that have heard the truths of God and have not been saved yet, will turn away to these doctrines of demons!

            Jude warns us, Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jude 3-4.  In other words, in Jude’s day and in our day there are the pretenders who are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing and they spread their false doctrine to a church and world that is not diligent to study God’s Word. That is the only way they can get away with this garbage!

Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15-23, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’  You see, they NEVER knew Jesus and yet they were comfortable with their false doctrine and false relationship they had with God.  What a warning Jesus is giving to the church today!

Like I said, Paul likens the teachings of this false doctrine, these unscriptural lessons to that of cancer, spreading quickly.  I witnessed the affects of cancer and how quickly it can spread in my dad’s life.  He was diagnosed with colon cancer, had part of his colon removed.  There was no evidence that the cancer had spread anywhere else in his body at this point, although over 95% of the lymph glands they did a biopsy on had cancer.  Within 9 months his cancer spread to his brain, his lungs, and his liver and he died!

            I am amazed at how quickly false doctrine can spread, to the ruin of its hearer.  Remember when the Toronto blessing was so popular. People came into the airport at Toronto from all over the world to receive this anointing, to bark like dogs, laugh uncontrollably, be drunk in the Spirit and-so-on, and their message spread like cancer!  It is not building people up in the faith, but weakening their faith with junk food instead of the solid meat of God’s Word!

            Paul names two men, probably leaders in the church at Ephesus at one time, who were not rightly dividing the Word of God but teaching heresy!  In I Timothy 1:20 Paul tells us, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.  Hymenaeus rejected the faith and now, here in

II Timothy he still didn’t learn his lesson, he didn’t repent and now he is with Philetus spreading these profane and vain babblings. They must have been popular, had a strong following, but they were in error and leading others down that same path.

            Now they started out correctly, but then they strayed from the truth. One of the things they taught was that the resurrection was over, that it is past.  Are they speaking of our physical resurrection? It seems like it. Maybe they only saw a spiritual resurrection and denied any physical resurrection, a kind of early Gnosticism you might say.

            By denying our physical resurrection they were denying the resurrection of Jesus in bodily form.  Paul makes that point in I Corinthians 15:12-19, Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.  Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise.   For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

            If Paul ended there, that there is no resurrection for us, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then we are still dead in our sins, we are lost, and how hopeless our faith would be. But he didn’t end there. He goes on to say, But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  I Corinthians 15:20-24.  Because He was raised from the dead, since He conquered death, then one day we too will be raised in glory, our bodies will be resurrected like His!

            Now this doctrine was not all the heresy they taught, no doubt. If they were wrong with this fundamental doctrine, chances are they were also wrong in other areas, had many other “goofy beliefs” as they were moving away from Jesus. Thus, they have destroyed the faith of some as they listen to this garbage. These lies chocked out any leanings towards Christ and kept them in spiritual darkness, spiritual death.  Thus, Paul’s warning is to shun them, avoid their heresy, to not associate yourself with them!  Thus, AVOID FALSE TEACHERS!

4.  BE STRONG IN GOD’S WORD – II TIMOTHY 2:19

            In spite of the idle words of these false teachers that lead many to ungodly behavior. In spite of the false doctrine that leads to death, spiritual separation from God.  Do not fear, The solid foundation of God stands. I like that! Yes, avoid this, avoid that but don’t worry because we have God’s Word, which will not fade away. That is what the Bible teaches us.  In Luke 21:33 Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. 

            Yes, false teachers may devastate the souls of many people. Yes, false teachers may even confuse believers from time to time. But folks, The solid foundation of God stands.” Thank God for that, that God’s Word is our solid foundation in our beliefs!  John tells us in I John 2:14, “ . . . I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.

            Not only that but there is the guarantee of our salvation here. We have the seal of God upon us!  We are His for eternity!  Now if you doubt that, and some do, there are many Scriptures you can look at to give you that assurance. But the one that seals it for me is found in I Peter 1:3-5 where Peter tells us, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

            Our inheritance in Christ is incorruptible or imperishable, it will not fade away, no one can defile it and God has reserved a place in heaven for those that are His, those who have asked Him to be Lord and Savior of their lives!

            But what if we fall, what if we stumble, can we lose our salvation?  I don’t believe you can because Peter tells us that we are kept by the power of God” and I think He can hold onto us and not lose us, don’t you?  That should bring you great comfort, great hope that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it!

            Now, because we are standing up for truth, because we are unwilling to compromise our faith to fit in with the world, we are going to face persecution. Paul warned Timothy, Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  II Timothy 3:12. Let me give you this example to show you what I mean.  We are told from Lighthouse Trails Research Project that those who oppose the Purpose Driven Life, that program are nothing more than leaders from Hell and people who oppose this must be dealt with. Listen carefully:

The phone calls and emails started coming in about three years ago. Sometimes the caller was in his mid-eighties, sometimes the caller was crying. But all of them had the same kind of story to tell - when their churches decided to get involved with 40 Days of Purpose, everything began changing and when they questioned these changes, they each soon found themselves silenced, ostracized and eventually without a church to attend. Now today, nearly five years after Purpose Driven Life was released, thousands of believers are scattered throughout the world, having been ridiculed and demoralized for even just the slightest questioning of the Purpose Driven program. In one email we received, the young man was handed a letter from his pastor. The letter had been written by a Saddleback field representative who told the pastor to do what he had to do to get rid of those opposing the new program.

According to Rick Warren, these people are resisters and are standing in the way of Purpose Driven progress. In a June 14th article written by Rick Warren on his website (What Do You Do When Your Church Hits a Plateau? ), Warren told pastors and church leaders not to be discouraged about slow change in their churches. He told them it would take time . . . and in many cases it would take these resisters either leaving the church or simply dying. Warren stated:

If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it's been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it's been plateaued for 20 years, you've got to set in for the duration! I'm saying some people are going to have to die or leave.

Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it's true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change.

For Warren to couple his statement about dying or leaving with a statement about God killing off a million people is ignorant at best, subliminal at least. Coupled with his mention of 40 years in the desert and Warren's teaching that God always did good things in numbers of 40, Warren's intention in this statement seems obvious. In addition, the concept of get with the program, change or die is very common in New Age circles, that those who don't get on board (or ride the wave as Leonard Sweet puts it), will have to die. Listen to the words of renown New Ager Barbara Marx Hubbard:

Christ-consciousness and Christ-abilities are the natural inheritance of every human being on Earth. When the word of this hope has reached the nations, the end of this phase of evolution shall come. All will know their choice. All will be required to choose. . . . All who choose not to evolve will die off.

Furthermore, Leonard Sweet, in his book, Soul Tsunami, says that:

A sea change of transitions and transformations is birthing a whole new world and a whole new set of ways of making our way in the world. . . . It is time for a Postmodern Reformation . . . Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die. Some would rather die than change (pp. 17, 75).

- Lighthouse Trails Research Project, Purpose Driven Resisters – Must Leave or Die, June 2006

            Folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only is the unsaved world coming against those who believe in Jesus and stand upon His Word, but now those from within the church are rising up against us.  And the reality is, it will only get worse!  What should we do? Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands.”  God’s Word has stood the test of time and it will continue to stand the test of time. Isaiah 40:8 says, The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.  Place your feet upon God and His Word and you won’t be moved no matter who is coming against you, no matter how strong the winds are blowing!  THE REWARD OF STAYING FOCUSED – THE SOLID FOUNDATION OF GOD!  Thus, BE STRONG IN GOD’S WORD!

            As I bring this study to a close and we prepare to embark on a New Year, may we leave here being diligent, steadfast in our study of God’s Word, rightly dividing it. May we leave here avoiding the distractions that these false teachers bring across our path, their idle words that lead us to sin, to an unholy lifestyle. May we leave here avoiding false teachers who are leading people away from the truths of God found in the Word of God and waving them into the pit of Hell!  May we expose these wolves in sheep’s clothing. And may we leave here and be strong in God’s Word, standing upon that foundation and having that assurance of our salvation, that it is secure in Christ!

            Each week here at Calvary, in our bulletin we have some Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures to read, about 4 chapters total each night and in one year you will finish the whole Bible. What a great way to start the New Year!  As a body of believers here at Calvary, this is our 13th time reading through the Bible. We also have all our teaching notes from our Bible studies on our web page that are free to use as a commentary if you like. We have our radio station, 96.3 FM, that will begin its operation on New Year’s Eve for our Prophecy Update and that will be a live study and then we will have solid Bible teachers teaching God’s Word, some 20 hours of teaching each day! 

            So the resources are there, you just need to make the effort. May you be strong in the Lord and study to show yourself approved of God.  Let me leave you with these words from Paul as he reminds us in Romans 13:11-14, And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.  May you have a blessed New Year as you walk with the Lord!

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