Month: April 2017

1 Timothy 2

 

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

Paul begins to write about some of the practical instructions regarding the duties of the church.

The first thing that he mentions is that people are to publicly pray for all men, and especially the men in government and authority because they will a) have the authority to give a tranquil and peaceful life for the church, directing any mandates or decrees away from the harassment of the church and from hindering the advancement of the gospel, and b) are able to be saved as well.

This is speculation, but perhaps the reason why Paul instructs Timothy to instruct the church to pray for those outside of the faith is because either they had stopped doing so, or were not doing so in the first place. So, Paul gives the positive command to pray publicly, petition openly, entreat earnestly, and give thanks to those in government.

However, maybe out of an overreaction to church history, there is an unfortunate movement in our churches today that is discouraging this very thing. They think that it is not the church’s duty to petition the government to rule according to godly principles because it is not the church’s duty to inform public policy. However, Paul makes it clear in this text that it is the church’s duty to petition especially to those in governmental authority.

There are very clear Biblical principles for the reason why God instituted offices of authority like government. Romans 13 shows that the purpose of the government is to restrain/punish evil and to promote/reward good. If the government rightly executes this mandate, then godliness will be promoted and the wickedness that would disturb the true wellfare of society and the tranquility of the church would be restrained. To know what is objectively wicked (like being absolutely certain that murder is wrong) so as to promote peace is by going to the moral law of God. The only way that a government can rightly execute this is if they are informed by the moral law of God. If what the government rules and mandates is in accordance with the God who established that position of authority, then those rules and mandates will ultimately promote and protect the true church of God.

So, we have Paul encouraging the church to petition the government to rightly execute their function as an institution appointed by God, and accountable to God, so as to maintain peace and civility where true godliness and dignity may more freely flourish.

John A. Broadus more eloquently put it this way:

“When the problem raised by truth involves conduct that reaches beyond person-to-person relations to social institutional relations, the preacher’s task grows more problematical. We live not only in a world of persons but of powerful social organizations and institutions, which exert constant and relentless pressure upon the moral and spiritual life of individuals. The preacher cannot be indifferent to these wider and more complex areas. He must pass unflinching judgment upon the wrongs of society; he must voice the Christian principles of righteousness and justice and good will; he must stir the consciences of men to meet the conditions and practices of the social order with unselfish devotion to truth and honor and common humanity. This duty has already been emphasized in the discussion of ethical preaching.

“But what shall he propose in a practical way? Devise strategies and programs for labor or for capital? Write platforms for the political parties? Propose and advocate particular statutes for legislative bodies? Agitate for particular solutions of the race problems? Turn expert in international procedures? Obviously such things are beyond his ability and outside his function. he is not an expert social planner. He is a prophet, a seer, and critic, and voice of high conscience in the name of God. He should not be complacent in the belief that society is impersonal organization and natural process. Society is composed of men, women, and children. The forms of society are created and managed by persons. The human factor is determinative of many things, including principles and goods. Human responsibility for the social order is therefore real, and the preacher must not permit complacency in himself or in those who hear him.

“He must ask burning questions of persons: ‘Where is thy brother? What meaneth this bleating of sheep?’ But he must ask in knowledge, not ignorance, speaking out of an understanding of conditions and problems won by diligent study. With such understanding he will be able to affix blame where blame lies and to propose with boldness the ways and means that brotherhood, honesty, high motive, and reverence for God will suggest. Such is the preacher’s function.

It is within his province and responsibility to bring every kind of evil, individually and corporately upheld, to the light and judgment of Christ’s moral principles, and then to insist that men put these principles to the test where they are, making adventure along paths which an enlightened conscience can choose.” (On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, ed. Jesse Weatherspoon, Harper and Brothers, 1944. 214)

1 Timothy 1

shipwreck-1854

Paul, an official of the church, holding the office of apostle, is giving instructions in this letter to another officer in the church, Timothy, as to the organization, structure and the function of the church.

Like many of his letters, there is the call to remain faithful and steadfast in the doctrines that were originally given by Paul. It is of utmost importance for the leaders of the church to be on watch for these things, as will be noted in chapters 3 and 4 of this epistle, because they are the earthly captains that turn the ship. The manner in which the ship is turned is by what doctrines are being taught. Paul does not so much a warn not to heed other doctrines, like Galatians speaks about, as much as it is not to teach strange doctrines. To teach something different than what Paul had taught them would be to teach a different Christ, and it would be a distortion and a twisting of the Gospel. If this is the case, then they are no true teachers of God, but they are false teachers leading people astray from the truth of God into shipwreck

Calvin said that sound doctrine is a most precious treasure, for it contains the truth of God’s salvation. Therefore, sound doctrine is invaluable and we ought to dread for it to ever leave us or for it ever to be harmed or fouled in any way. Since the leaders of the church themselves ought to have their consciences set on this preservation, searching the truth of it- and knowing what it is not- because it is his responsibility to steer away from error. If error is not steered away from, God punishes with shipwreck.

Calvin goes on: “Hence we may learn two lessons. First, Teachers and ministers of the gospel, and, through them all the churches are taught with what horror they ought to regard a hypocritical and deceitful profession of true doctrine, when they learn that it is so severely punished.

“Secondly, this passage removes the offense by which so many persons are greatly distressed, when they perceive that some, who formerly professed their attachment to Christ and to the gospel, not only fall back into their former superstitions but (which is far worse) are bewildered and captivated by monstrous errors. For by such examples, God openly supports the majesty of the gospel, and openly shows that he cannot at all endure the profanation of it.

“And this is what experience has taught us in every age. All the errors that have existed in the Christian Church from the beginning, proceeded from this source, that in some persons, ambition, and in others, covetousness, extinguished the true fear of God. A bad conscience is, therefore, the mother of all heresies…”

2 Thessalonians 3

undisciplined

A seemingly extreme manner of disassociating with “unruly” brethren is laid out in verses 14 and 15. There is the instruction for the rest of the body to separate from those who do not take to heart the instructions of godliness that are posited. This separation does not mean to never speak with such a person ever again, rather it is in terms of not mingling with them in a more comfortable, social setting, as if one were to pretend that everything is normal and okay.

Some may see this exclusion as harsh and unloving, but verse 15 exposes this way of dealing with unruly men as actually loving. It is a desire to see them not only walk in a manner consistent to the sanctified life to which they have been called merely in an external way, but it is because this outward walk is a fruit of what is in the heart. Since from out of the heart flow the issues of life, then this manner of dealing with someone is a corporate expression of admonition and hope for inward repentance and change. It is a love for them to be vigilant and sober so that the deluding influence of lawlessness and false belief does not continue to consume their hearts and lead to their ultimate destruction.

Though unrepentant sin is to be resolutely dealt with within the church, the purpose of this exclusion is not to ultimately reject someone, but to protect the rest of the church from being negatively influenced, and to restore the wandering sheep back to the fold.

A true friend is one that can speak truthfully to another, and to behave toward them truthfully, with the intention of seeing them benefited. A hateful parent does nothing to discipline their children, but a loving parent corrects and instructs their children when they do wrong. They do this because they know that it is for their good. So, admonitions and necessary steps must be taken in brotherly love out of a desire for their eternal well being.

Calvin said in regards to 2 Corinthians 2:7 and on this passage: “Hence we see that the use of discipline ought to be in such a way as to consult the welfare of those on whom the Church inflicts punishment. Now, it cannot but be that severity will fret, when it goes beyond due bounds. Hence, if we wish to do good, gentleness and mildness are necessary, that those that are reproved may know that they are nevertheless loved.”

2 Thessalonians 2

We are given an insight into the final days of the world. While many specifics are untold in this chapter, there are some insights that can be understood. Some would say that THE great apostasy is happening in the present time since we are in the last days, other say that it is a specific event or series of events yet to come. But in our day there certainly is an alarming measure of apostasy.

We see an increasing lawlessness and spirit of delusion that is causing people to believe what is antithetical to the gospel and continue to take pleasure in wickedness. By this I mean that since people openly and remorselessly live in opposition to the moral law of God, they are delusional to think that there is nothing wrong with this; in fact, they take pleasure in it and it is their joy in doing things that are opposed to God’s precepts.

These forces of deception are hard at work today, trying to break into church walls in order place the truth of Christ as merely one among many beliefs. Just so long as it is under the one who falsely exalts himself above all other religions. Some may see this “one” as pluralism or materialism, while they certainly have this spirit, I believe that this title is reserved for a specific person, and these ideologies and systems of thought are types or instruments used to help pave the way.

So, Paul exhorts us to stand firm and be in keeping with the spirit of what was said to the Colossians. His exhortation is also a reminder to put on the godly aspects of vigilance and sobriety so that these ideologies that are opposed to Christ do not creep into our hearts and minds.

2 Thessalonians 1

Gavel

The hope of the day of Christ’s coming and what that day entails gives the Christian hope and courage to endure the persecutions of today.

“It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” It brings to mind Christ’s words when He said that what we do to the least of these, we have done to Him. Also, Christ’s confrontation of Paul upon the road to Damascus: “Saul, why do you persecute me,” even though Christ was in heaven and Paul was hunting Christians. Having been united to Christ and being His body, the physical and spiritual torments that are doled out upon us in this day are actually being doled out on Christ. “’Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord, ‘I will repay.’”

From our impatient, earthly perspective, and because the wicked are spared for a moment, it seems many times that there is no justice and evil men are able to get away with no consequence. But by virtue of God being the holy, infinite, and just Judge of all the earth who will do right, this disorder and injustice we see in our day will, of necessity, be put to order in His time. God will remedy the brokenness and unrest, and the unjust will be repaid for what they have done.

It is in God’s interest to execute justice against those who are in rebellion against His glory. We can be assured that the retribution exacted against evil men who commit these injustices will be satisfying, unlike the justice administered here on earth. How many people are satisfied with the sentences our courts give to child molesters, rapists, or murderers? There are even those who are not satisfied with the death penalty because they feel that they have been so wronged by their offender.

This is not so with God’s justice. Because of the harm which they have done to His image-bearers, thereby dishonoring His image, and because they have not honored His only begotten Son, the One in whom He is well pleased, further dishonoring His image and glory, His punishment will most certainly fit the crime to its most infinite measure. Christians find their greatest honor and glory when Christ’s name is honored and glorified, and by His execution of justice upon those who do not do so, it is a rest, comfort, and joy to the believer to know that there is peace in God’s kingdom.

But this begs the question: what injustices have you done? No man can say that they have done nothing unjust because no man is innocent before God’s countenance- all are guilty. What hope do you have that God won’t seek His justice upon you?