Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Misusing the Scriptures - 2nd Timothy 2:14

"Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. " (2 Timothy 2:14)
Almost thirty years ago my new wife and I hosted our first small group in our home. The pattern of the church we belonged to was that the group leader lead a teaching every week. At first, this was a great stress on me, as a heavy weight upon my shoulders, feeling like each week I had to have a fresh word, the "new" word of the Lord, something new and revelatory to teach those in our group. It almost became unbearable until I realized that the entire Word of God was divine and inspired. At any point I could open it up and teach its words and the message would be both inspired and divine. Timothy's ministry in Ephesus was not to have a "new and exciting" word for the people each week, but rather to remind them of what they had already learned; to keep the word they had believed fresh and active in their soul.

I have meat many people who have had a similar experience to mine. Part of the problem lies with how we train "preachers." We teach hermeneutics, we teach them Greek and Latin so they can find hidden truth, and we train them how to speak and prepare sermons; everything they need to deliver a fresh new word every week. Their training teaches them that they need to preach and preach something new and interesting each week. Also, in part, the congregants are also partly to blame. Each week they come and sit dutifully, almost demandingly, expecting something new and fresh and, if what is delivered is not to their liking, they grumble, complain, and criticize the "preacher" for not living up to their expectations. We want something new when what we really need is simply to be reminded. Most of us we already know what we need to know, we just need to be reminded to live what we know.

Similarly, there are two grave mistakes want-to-be teachers make when they approach the Word of God. Some delve into the Word in an attempt to understand God. While the scriptures reveal much about God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit, it is not the Word that sheds light on God but God that sheds light upon the Word. Jesus told us, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (John 16:13) It is God who leads us into truth, even the truth of the scriptures. Also, Jesus chided those whose dependency was upon the Word yet, int the end, they rejected Him. "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." (John 5:39-40) These were those who searched the scriptures for truth, but truth came and went and they missed Him. With all their scriptural knowledge they failed to recognize God when He came. To properly understand the scriptures we must first properly understand God.

Secondly, some view the scriptures as almost a magic book, full of spells and hidden mystical messages. To them it is a book of secrets for them to discover and explain. They view the scriptures not as a message from God, nor as a history of His involvement with mankind, but as a secret encoded message which only the truly wise, that being them, can properly decipher and understand. These are those who argue over words, syntax, and hidden truths. For example, there are those today who argue over what John said regarding Jesus. When John said, "The Word was God." (John 1:1) they say it should be "the word was a god." Yet in their arguing over words they miss the totality of the message of the scriptures which clearly portrays Jesus as both God and the Son of God. They argue over words and miss the truth. Along with these are those who look to colors, numbers, and patterns of letters to find hidden meaning, yet Paul simply says, "For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand." (2 Corinthians 1:13) The Word of God is not difficult and it means what it says. If we focus on what is evident in its meaning, then we will have no occasion for error and the truth of God's word will continue to strengthen and mature us in our walk with God.

David Robison

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