1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1 Tim. 1:1-7
Notice that Paul specifically sent Timothy to Ephesus to protect the singular doctrine that he had preached to the Epesians, that no other teaching be introduced into the Ephesian church.
In the 1970s when I was a mere boy, a ‘saved’ person was the most feared person in our village. Later on in life, my dad used to regale me with tales of drunkards who would immediately sober up on meeting with a saved person on the road. He once told me of a man who was smoking and on meeting a certain saved fellow village man, he hastily put the cigarette into his pocket to avoid detection. As they stood there exchanging greetings, the saved man saw smoke coming from the poor sinner’s pocket and, on realizing what was happening, he quickly excused himself and walked off.
I also recall clearly how during these people’s overnight prayers, the whole village would lie in their beds, quaking with fear.
But I also recall that these people did not teach many things. They simply taught on repentance and accepting Jesus into your life. They also lived an exemplary Christian life.
However, by the time I got saved in 1990, there were many strange doctrines making the rounds; but I was not aware that these doctrines were alien to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Among them was the doctrine of prosperity.
I was working in the city at that time, and we used to go to “lunctime fellowships”. These fellowships were spontaneous fellowships started by visionary young (and older) ministers, well-meaning men, no doubt, but without the right foundation. The true foundation of the gospel – Christ and Him crucified – had long been lost, and everyone did and taught as they saw fit. It was fertile ground for the enemy to plant his seeds in the church.
Christians could attend any lunchtime fellowship, believing that what was being preached there was the Word of God. People have a tendency of trusting anyone who wears the garb of “man of God”.
So one day I attended a lunch time fellowship in which a very famous “prosperity” preacher was scheduled to be preaching. I had heard of the man, but I had never attended any of his services. Somehow, my spirit hungered for something deeper and I was not too attracted to the frills and thrills that these kinds of preachers offered.
Anyways, when I entered the packed auditorium, I heard the man say, “God is about to give you that Mercedes Benz that you have been asking for!” and I remember thinking, ‘I have never even thought of a Mercedes Benz, let alone asked God for one!’
But then I quickly rationalized, ‘If God is giving out free Benz’s, then what have I been missing here!’
It was the end of the month, and we had just received our salaries or, at least, people’s salaries were still fresh in their pockets. (In those days, people kept more money in their pockets than in the bank).
And the preacher said, “Put your hand into your pocket and get out an offering fit for a King, and God is going to give you that Mercedes Benz!” He framed the words in such a way that you just had to give a very large offering.
I had nearly all my salary with me in my pocket, so I put my hand in my pocket and took out a very large amount of money, still half-disbelieving that I was just about to become the proud owner of a Merc Benz.
But I had just been both conned and bewitched, unawares.
Today, more than twenty years on, I still have not received that Benz that the preacher promised me.
I also had an uncle who was saved. The only real property that this uncle of mine owned was a bicycle which much of the time had to be pushed rather than ridden. The steering part had a permanent bend to it, and when riding it, even downhill, you expended more energy battling to right it than you would just pushing the contraption uphill!
Anyways, this uncle of mine comes up to me one day and tells me, “You see that piece of land there?” as he pointed to the front yard of his house.
“Yes, uncle”? I inquired.
“I am going to level that place and I am going to park a brand-new 10-tonne Scania truck there by faith!”
He had just come from a week-long “prosperity” seminar at their church, in which they had been taught to “claim” things by faith. They had been trained, among other things, how to turn the ignition key on their favorite car, to shift gears, to step on the gas, and finally, how to brake. Theoretically, of course. No one in that church even owned a motor-cycle!
Fortunately or unfortunately, the financial condition of my uncle did not change an iota till the day of his death. I am sure, though, that he died a spiritually poor man, his eyes still set on the things of this world.
Those were the “roaring 90s”.
Since then, many more even stranger doctrines have cropped up within the church, amongst them:
– Generational curses
– Spirit of rejection
– Demonic spirits in church
– Breaking of curses
– Going to heaven and coming back
– Planting seeds
– And many more.
That is why the church today needs to understand the doctrine of Paul. What was it that Paul taught the church, and what were these other doctrines that he feared might be introduced into the church?
No doubt, from Paul’s fears we can surmise that not every teaching is of God. Not every doctrine edifies the spiritual man. And any doctrine that purports to come from God and does not edify the spirit of man simply does not bring life. It ministers death to its hearers.
Today, more than ever, we need Pauls and Timothys in the church. We don’t need anyone else.
[Below: The church is eating ‘dirt’ served on nicely-worded plates]