Encoragement for the new year (and new life) Part 3

As we stir up the gift within us, and rekindle our courage for the gospel of the Lord and the writings of the apostles, we come to number three…renew our devotion to the deliverance of sound doctrine.

While there may be lots of re-interpretations of Scripture surfacing (along with the abandoning of the Scriptures since they are viewed as irrelevant for today’s culture) we come to Paul’s simple instruction to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 1:13 “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” Simply...to depart from the pattern of sound words from him is to also depart from faith and love in Christ Jesus. Don’t mess with the message.

This goes along with what he says later in chapter 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In other words…do not change nor alter the message! Changing and altering the message seems to be the one thing that the modern church is more than willing to do. Many reasons are given as to why the message must be changed…it isn’t politically correct, it offends too many people, it’s too judgmental, the apostles were wrong, too out-of-touch, too insensitive, or weren’t clear enough. As mentioned before, the writings of the apostles were (as a general rule) very clear and to the point. What they said and what they meant is not overly difficult to figure out if a person engages in a little honest study with no underlying objectives to alter the meaning. It is when the way it reads rubs us the wrong way that we start tampering with it. “Surely we can’t be wrong…it’s surely got to mean something else“…and thus the journey begins to re-design and re-interpret what is written. This brings us to the rather interesting way Paul expresses this. He did not just say “hold fast sound words,” but he says “hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me.” Not just the words and doctrines themselves, but the very pattern and manner with which they were delivered. Distorting the pattern can lead to distorting the meaning. Don’t mess with it! When Paul says “rightly dividing the word of truth” he is using an expression that has to do with cutting patterns. He made tents, and to make a tent correctly he would follow a pattern and would not only cut correctly but would also cut it straight. He was in essence saying to Timothy “Keep this as I have given this to you…cut it straight…do not alter the pattern. Don’t start switching things around, don’t start changing the meanings of words or phrases, do not change nor alter my pattern, my intent and my purpose. Keep the pattern of my words sound!” This would, of course, apply to all of the New Testament. The authority given to the apostle Paul extends to all of the apostles, and that authority came by the will of God Himself. No, we are not (as many want to do) called to “keep the conversation going” or “keep the dialogue going” as many want to do. If they are unwilling to accept the plain meaning and authority of the Scriptures we are wasting our breath. Rather, Scripture exhorts and requires us to stand and accept no other doctrine (1st Timothy 1:3), be nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine (1st Timothy 4:6), continue in the doctrine (1st Timothy 4:16), avoid foolish and ignorant disputes (2nd Timothy 2:23), be gentle, patient and humble as you try to point them back to the truth (2nd Timothy 2:24-26). That requires knowing the Scriptures, so part of the renewal also involves our devotion to learn and know what it says, how it says it…and keeping it that way.

So, let us stand and stir up the gift that has been given to us.

Let us rekindle our courage for the gospel of the Lord and the writings of the apostles.

Let us renew our devotion to the deliverance of sound doctrine.