It Never Gets Old

“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.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending the Ligonier National Conference. One of the great truths I was reminded of at the conference was the fact that it does not matter how many times you have read through the Bible or how many times you have heard a certain passage preached there is still so much to learn about Scripture and God. The pastor who made this point, mentioned how he loves to see 85 year-old saints who walk up to him with a big smile on their faces because they just learned something new about the Lord or had been reminded of something encouraging. We are never too old to learn something new. Nor can we ever hear the Bible preached enough. There is always something new to glean from Scripture. In fact, we will never know everything there is to know about God or the Scriptures. Therefore, we will always be learning.

It is so easy to come to a passage of Scripture that is very familiar to us and say, ‘I have already read that’ or ‘I have already heard that preached, so what could I possibly learn? I am just going to skip it.’ This is the complete opposite attitude that we are to have. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” The more we learn the Bible the more we realize how little we know and how much more we need to learn. The Bible is full of wisdom and truth. It reveals to us who we are (sinners in need of a Savior), it reveals who that Savior is (Christ Jesus), and it guides us in how to live. It is sufficient for faith and practice.

There is much for us to learn still from the pages of Scripture and much to be reminded of. We can never know it enough. We are told that 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. It is so profitable to us that we are to learn it and relearn it and know it well. One of the best ways to do that (in addition to your own personal reading) is in church where you can hear the teaching and preaching of God’s Word on a regular basis.

Therefore, let us not forsake the assembling together’ but rather let us be eager to meet together to grow in our knowledge of God.

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Flee & Pursue

2 Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Notice the double command here?  Paul commands Timothy to both flee and pursue.  Flee what is evil, pursue what is good.  True repentance is not just fleeing, for what will you run to if you don’t pursue something else that is “good?”  Just the same, true repentance is not just pursuing, for you cannot pursue what is good while remaining in what is evil.  True repentance always has both.

But think about this deeper.  Often we find ourselves fleeing certain sins, not because we want Jesus instead, but because we want to feed another idol.  Let me explain.  Say a man wants to be a godly man, so when he see’s a scantily clad woman on a TV commercial he turns his eyes away.  You may think – good!  But wait.  Why does he turn away?  Is it because he wants Jesus more than the frame of a woman?  Or is it because he wants to uphold his reputation as a godly man before the eyes of his friends or his church?  One is a righteous motivation.  The other is not.  Do you know which?

Do you see how deep sin gets into our motives, choices, thoughts, and behaviors?  When you flee one sin to feed another sinful idol in your life, you’re not fighting sin, your feeding evil.

Flee and pursue, flee and pursue.

When Are the Last Days?

2 Timothy 3:1 says, “But know this, in the last days, you will have hard times.”

The question concerning me for this verse is, “Okay Paul, I get you; but when are the last days?” Have you ever wondered that? After studying through this, I have come to the conclusion that we are in the last days now, presently. This means that I do not agree with the “Left Behind” view that we are waiting for a rapture to come and usher in the last days of the world. Why do I think this? Three big and clear reasons:

a) Genesis 49:1-10. Israel (Jacob) says in 49:1 that he is going to tell his sons what will take place in the “last days”. What does he tell them? In 49:8-10 he has some interesting things to say about Judah. He says that Judah will be praised by his brothers and have ultimate victory over his enemies. Then in 49:10 Jacob says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet. Until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Follow me here: a scepter is a ruling instrument that a king would hold in his hand. Jacob is saying that Judah will always have this scepter, so Judah will always reign as king. The ruler’s staff is another term for scepter and Jacob says it will never depart from between Judah’s feet. ”Feet” in the OT sometimes refers to the penis, the male reproductive organ. So this means that the “seed” of Judah, or the offspring of Judah, which comes from his penis, will always reign with the scepter. Then the strange part comes “…until Shiloh comes…” Who is Shiloh? The NIV does a great job here and leaves the Hebrew exactly as it is found, “until it (the scepter) comes to whom it belongs.” This means that in the last days (49:1) the ruling scepter of Judah shall come to whom it belongs. Who has come from Judah to rule? JESUS! Jesus is the One “to whom the obedience of the people shall be.” This will happen in the last days Jacob says, so therefore, we are now in the last days, because Jesus has come and He holds all authority (Matt 28:18-20), He holds the scepter.

b) Hebrews 1:1-2. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us through His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also, He made the world.” Do you see it? God did speak to the fathers, the OT Israel, in many ways, but now, in these last days, speaks to us through His Son. God speaks to us through Jesus now, therefore we are in the last days.

c) Hebrews 9:26. “Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the end of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Who was sacrificed for sin? Jesus. When did this happen? On the cross. Notice how the author of Hebrews says this happened at the end of the ages? Therefore, we are in the last days now.

Why does this matter? Because we are in the last days now, we should expect things to be hard, difficult, violent, and dangerous for believers. These things should be a normal part of our everyday lives. Jesus promised we would have it trouble in John 16:33. If I am not feeling the tension and danger in my life because I’m a believer, I have to ask one question: Do I fit in too well with this present world? The world loves it own, and if it loves me, than I am not being a witness for Christ! If I am a witness for Christ, the world would hate me, as it hated Jesus. Have I not lived by the gospel clear enough to show the world what I am?

Listen to Jim Elliot:

The world cannot hate you”, so Jesus said to those who were of the world spirit. O’ that it could! The Lord is not enough ‘with me’ that the world can recognize and hate me for what I am – “not of the world.” The world loves its own, and for me it shelters not hatred. Lord, have I wandered so far?”

A Pursuit of Righteousness is a Pursuit of Christ

In 2 Tim. 2:22 Paul tells us to pursue righteousness. What does that mean? At the most basic level this means that I’m to pursue that which is right. But what or whom is ultimately the source of all things right? God. Therefore by pursuing God and I am pursuing what is right, I am pursuing pure righteousness. Also I must remember that there is no good in me and that all my “righteous” deeds are filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6). So it would not be right for me to pursue my own righteousness, for it is absent and non-existent in me. But I can pursue an alien righteousness that has been put into me, the glorious and perfect obedience of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, by pursuing Christ I’m pursuing what is right. It is right for to lay aside my old man and put on the new man, which has been created in righteousness (Eph. 4:22-24). I am to labor to present the members of my body to God as instruments and tools of righteousness. Pursuing sanctification in my new man and my members is right. If I present myself as a slave to obeying God, it will end in righteousness (Rom. 6:13-16).

Therefore, because Christ is the fountain of righteousness and contains all righteousness, if I pursue Christ, I pursue what is right, I pursue righteousness. But, I don’t do this for the sake of my own righteousness, or for the sake of being seen as righteous before men, because in reality I am not righteous and I cannot add any right-ness to me. I pursue the righteousness of Christ to pursue what is right, to pursue that which is most worthy of being pursued, namely, Christ!

Join me in this.

A Pursuit of Faith is a Pursuit of Christ

2 Tim. 2:22 tells me to pursue faith. My concern here is answering the question: what does it mean to pursue faith?

Faith by definition means, the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) So for me to pursue faith, means that I would pursue hope, belief, trust, and conviction in what is not seen, namely, God. I must hope in what I cannot see, believe and cling to this God even though it is my heart, not my eyes that knows His nearness, I must trust in what He tells me though He is invisible, and I must have firm convictions that this God exists and that I can come to Him anytime. Without these things of faith, I cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). When I do have these things of faith, God is pleased (Heb. 11:6, John 6:29). It is by this faith that I am saved (Rom. 4:5, 10:9), thus pursuing faith is the pursuit of salvation through Jesus.

It is good to notice that I cannot see faith with my eyes, mine or anyone else’s. But I sure can feel it, and I sure can see the effects of faith all over the place in the life of those who have it. How? The fruit of faith shows itself in action! In the words of Martin Luther, “The kind of faith that saves is faith alone, but faith is never alone.” I must pursue this gift of God (Rom. 12:3) for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Because when I fight for faith (2 Tim. 4:7), faith shows itself in my words, deeds, etc. When people see those outworkings of faith, God will be glorified (Matt. 5:16).

Does your faith lead you to action? If not, is it true faith?

In This Darkness There is Hope

In 2 Timothy 3 Paul says that men will act certain ways in the last days. He then goes on to list certain characteristics that men will have and in verse 3 Paul says they will be “malicious gossips”. This is an unfortunate translation from Greek into English. In the Greek Paul actually says this, men will be “diaboloi”, which if translated as it stands means, “devils”. I can understand why they translated it into “malicious gossips” because that is included in the word “devils” because Satan and his children are slanderer’s by nature. Even though this is true, “malicious gossips” does not use the full force of what Paul was actually trying to say. ”Devils” has much more to say than “malicious gossips”.

The meaning here is plain is it not? ”In these last days men will be devils”, means two things:

a) Men will look like their father in the last days. Men will be devils, not that they themselves are devils, but they will highly resemble their father, the devil. Just as believers are growing into the image of God as they grow, so too Satan tries to mature and increase the image of himself in the lives of his own children. This is not hard for him to do because he is the ‘god of this world…’ (2 Cor. 4:4). The verse which points me to this is John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

From this I draw: If men in these last days are going to be devils, they will be:

1) Little images of their father, making sin a lifestyle. (1 John 3:8)

2) Do the desires of their father. (John 8:44)

3) Murderers and every evil thing. Just as a Christian grows into the likeness of ALL of Christ, so too the lost person slowly grows into the likeness of ALL of Satan. (Any verse that shows an attribute of Satan would be appropriate here, since all of Satan’s attributes will shown to varying degree’s in his children: Rev. 12:9, Gen. 3:4, 1 John 3:8, 2 Cor. 4:4)

4) Not in the truth because there is no truth in them (as their father).

5) Untrustworthy, because whenever they speak, you can know for sure that somewhere in there, they are lying. Their father only speaks lies, because his nature is to lie as the father of lies. Thus, lies will be all over the speech of his children, because that is their nature as well and therefore they ought to be called, the children of lies.

Next…

b) The second thing in this thought we should see is that we not only will see these things in the men around us or just in those people who do not know Jesus, we will see these attributes in ourselves as well, because of our sin and corruption. But believers will recognize them as what they are, evil passions that must be hated and warred against. The lost will not recognize them because that is the only thing they’ve known.

Feeling a little like the world just got a little bit darker? I have for sure. Is there hope in such a dark world where millions of people are walking around as “devils”? Yes, there is hope! How? God is in the business of reversing the blindness Satan puts on his children. Satan may blind us (2 Cor. 4:4), but when God chooses to say “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” in our hearts as He did in creation (Genesis 1), we will see the “glory of God in the face Jesus Christ” and be saved, treasuring Him above all things! In this darkness, there is hope, cling to it, and pray that God would shine this light through you.

Do You Ignore 2 Timothy 3:12?

A promise is a declaration that something will or will not be done, or given.  It is an absolute assurance on which expectation is to be based.  In 2 Timothy 3:12 God makes us a promise.  “Indeed, all desiring to live in a godly manner in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” When I read this, I think of two things: I ask why, and I examine.

a) Why will those who desire godliness, to be like Jesus, be persecuted?  Because this world has been blinded by the prince of the power of the air (2 Cor. 4:4).  Because as they hated Jesus, they will hate us (John 15:20).  Because we must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations (Acts 14:22).  Because we are living in “violent, hard” times surrounded by devils and evil men and women (2 Tim. 3:1-9).  Because aliens do not fit in, and that’s what we are ( 1 Peter 2:11).

b) This makes me examine (2 Cor. 13:5) my life.  Why?  Because I wonder what it means if I do not experience any persecution.  If I don’t, I fear I only have two options.  I either fit in to much with this world, or I do not spend any real time with unbelievers.  Either way, my life and my beliefs must not seem offensive to them, and therefore they recognize me as one of their own, not as an alien.  Either way this makes me ask, “Am I a true believer?”

Are you?  What do you do with 2 Timothy 3:12?