DECLENSION FROM WITHIN
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wrangling of men of corrupt minds and destitute of truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” 1 Timothy 6:3-5
It is obvious that Paul is warning Timothy, a young pastor in the first century church, that deceivers and heretical teachers would come into the church for wicked, self-seeking motives. Ignoring sound doctrine and even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul says that they err in three distinct areas. First, they “teach otherwise”; indicating contradictions to Scriptural truth. Secondly, they “do not consent to wholesome words.” And thirdly, they “reject doctrine which accords to godliness.” He is saying that correct belief matters.
Nearly nineteen centuries later, theologian C.H. Spurgeon was also having to deal with these issues of faith. From Germany and Switzerland were coming aberrant teaching which was denying the inerrancy of Scripture. The church throughout Europe was coming under such evil influence from those who had risen to leadership positions within the church.
Spurgeon wrote, God was being robbed of His glory and men and women were being robbed of their hope. These destroyers of our churches appear to be as content with their work as monkeys with their mischief. That which their fathers would have lamented, they rejoice in. A vowed atheist is not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. The church throughout history has triumphantly survived the attacks that come from the outside. The church throughout history has scattered itself in ruins when the declension has come from within.”
Be careful dear church of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. (Acts 20:29)
CAN YOU CATCH THE FIRE?
For much of the church, throughout its history, there has not been cushy pews, air conditioned or heated sanctuaries, Lear Jet planes or travel coaches in the form of sleek lined buses or personal train cars. No. Many of the men who set the pattern for us to follow, were merely obedient to the calling with which Christ Jesus had called them. They served the Lord not to attain personal honor, glory or recognition. They had received a higher calling being set apart wholly for His divine purpose and pleasure. Their means of transportation were humble. Their places in which they assembled people to hear the Gospel were simplistic and oft times there was no roof over their heads.
Paul, the apostle, was such a man. Perhaps, many of us, cannot relate to the great difficulties that he continually experienced.
He had been imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16); chased out of Thessalonica (Acts 17); smuggled out of Berea (Acts 17); laughed at in Athens (Acts 17); regarded as a fool in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1); and stoned in Galatia (Acts 14). But through all this and more, Paul had his heart set on preaching the Gospel in Rome, the very seat of political power and pagan religion.
There was nothing that could hinder the boldness he possessed in preaching and teaching the gospel. Ridicule, physical beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, or criticism could not deter the fire that he possessed to live out his faith in the One who had died for his sins.
He had written to the church in Rome that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
Oh, if we today could catch just a spark from this fire, how many would be saved from that which is to come?