The Need For Sound Doctrine – Part 1

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Tim. 4:1-5

What a charge Timothy had! And yet it is today, more than ever, that this charge needs to be carried out to the maximum, despite the dangers that accompany its execution. Dangers, yes, for Paul here tells Timothy that, once he set out to implement this charge he would “…endure afflictions”.

There was a time when I used to wonder at the present-day phenomenon of the mega-church. These are single churches with mass congregations of ten, twenty, or thirty thousand people. It is in most of these churches that the “pop” gospels of prosperity and other doctrines made up by man are preached. In these churches also is where you find a form of hype and sensationalism which would turn the world green with envy.

I used to wonder about these things, just as King David also wondered at how God could allow evil men to prosper (Ps. 73:16).

I used to wonder… until I read 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Mark the “they” in this scripture. “They” are God’s people and with this particular group of people lies the whole problem of the church. Not all, certainly, but the majority. With God’s people lies the problem of the church. That’s incongruous, to say the least.

Notice there is “sound doctrine”, or “truth”; and there are “fables”. A time would come, Paul told Timothy, when God’s people would not endure sound doctrine. You don’t endure good things; you endure bad or difficult situations. Apparently, therefore, sound doctrine is not good for the flesh. Paul’s reference to sound doctrine here is to the gospel of the cross. He was saying a time would come when people would not endure pain. They would not endure the hard choices that the cross offers. Instead, they would choose the broad and easy road of the flesh.

That’s hardly surprising today, with the feel-good gospels that are being preached in most churches today. That is why people are flocking to these churches. The sad fact, however, is that the people who go to church to hear feel-good sermons are not spiritual people; they are worldly-minded people.

If there was one person who should have had a mega-church here on earth, it was our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that He had such a large following that, at one time he fed five thousand men, apart from the women and children. That means that the number of people who followed Jesus were in the tens of thousands. But these people were not the church.

On the day that Jesus decided to start His church, He turned to these same people and to spoke them these words:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (Jn. 6:53)

At this, His followers scattered like flies. They could not endure His hard words. Only 12 remained – the apostles. And they, too, hang on by a thread! (v. 67)

So, when Jesus was here on earth He had 12 members in His church! And we know that one of them was a devil. That left only eleven.

If things were so difficult in Jesus’ time, how can we possibly think that things are any different – or easier – today? The Bible expressly says that in the last days, the noose will get tighter. How can a man possibly claim to be breathing easier when the noose is getting tighter?

Today, we are living in times like the nation of Israel’s during Elijah’s time. At that time, the nation of Israel had forsaken God and they were worshipping pagan gods.

The nation of Israel is a type of the church. Now, we don’t want to make Elijah’s mistake and declare that there is no church in the world today. Even at the worst of times, God always has a remnant. And so it is even today. God has, within today’s apostate church,

“seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Ki. 19:18)

And yet, you realize, seven thousand in a nation as big as Israel was is a very small number. The number was so small that Elijah had no idea these people existed!

Now, more than ever, true ministers of God ought to heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

[Children play in a drain. They have absolutely no idea the danger they are in if flood waters came crashing through]

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Heaps of Teachers!

Ezekiel 33:4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

It is a time to take Scripture seriously. In my next few posts I want to take some time to talk about the Apostle Paul, and the gospel that he preached. You might want to ask, why specifically Paul? Well, simply because the Apostle Paul had the true revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a fact which even the Apostle Peter affirms. If Peter could affirm something, we should be considering it doubly.

But before we talk about the life of Paul and the gospel that he preached I would like to discuss a word that is found in his writings. The word is “heap”. In order to get the right perspective let’s read the scripture in 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 3 where this word is found: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;  but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

You can see that word “heap”, right in there. That means that in the days that Paul was talking about that this state of affairs would occur, there would be not one or two or even three preachers scattered here and there who would be teaching these false doctrines; no, Paul says there will be ‘heaps’ of them.

I am sure that if you begin counting from the top-of-the-range televangelists to the unknown preacher way down the rung, there are literally millions of preachers of the gospel today. I wonder how many of these are in that group of ‘heaps’ of false teachers, which is what Paul is talking about here – an accumulation of false teachers in the last days.

But it is clear from the strange doctrines coming from the pulpits today that there is an incredibly large percentage of preachers who are in that group.

But Paul says something else, that it is God’s people who will be encouraging these false preachers simply because they cannot endure sound doctrine! When you sit there and  someone is telling you to give because it will be given back to you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, and you are thinking in financial terms, what a lovely sermon!

It is no secret that in today’s version of Christianity, men and women are in it for their own personal gain – and the levels of lust after material gain are incredible. Just recently a pastor of a large congregation in my town bought himself a Hummer. This is a Third World country I am talking about. And don’t think I am being personal or subjective here. We are talking reality.

As Christians we should be very, very careful not to flow with the current. Christianity is not about masses… “Oh, y’know, I worship in a 5,000 member church, etc.” Jesus proved just that when one day He turned upon the Jewish masses following Him and fired one shot at them and they scattered like flies. Even His own disciples left Him. You can read about this in John chapter 6. The once-popular miracle-worker was left with 12 men who hesitantly decided to “endure” Jesus’ hard but sound doctrine. A few brave hearted women were there also, praise the Lord!

Now in our day we are witnessing a dangerous trend where there is only one message: God loves you and He will take care of you, and He wants to do you good. Today’s general Christian message is an adaptation of ‘Welcome to America’. Preachers filled with carnal lusts have dug into the Bible and found there are thousands of promises in there, all ripe and ready to be picked. People are listening to these teachings and they are jumping all over their seats in ecstasy, simply because preachers are promising them financial and material prosperity, good health, safety from all danger, etc., etc. Psalm 91 has been read to shreds, just because God’s people fear to die!

Can you imagine Jesus or the Apostles jumping up and down in their seats because a preacher has promised them financial prosperity? It’s not bad to be blessed financially, but after that, then what? The Apostle Paul says 1Cor. 15:19 that “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

People are itching for this kind of life, that’s all they want to hear. It is a poor Christian world indeed we are living in today.

Let us be mature and realize that God is not against material or financial blessings. He is not against us living a good, prosperous, healthy, and trouble-free life. He is not against us enjoying life. It requires maturity to acknowledge that and move on. The issue for the Church is: Is that the crux of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that the core of this mighty gospel? Is that the bottom of the matter? Was that what Jesus came on earth to die for? Was that the message He brought? Was that what the early Apostles preached? Is this what we find in Paul’s letters?

We are living in dangerous times and it is time for Christians to take hold of their lives and locate the right place to put them in. Ezekiel’s words have more meaning to us than they did to the Israelites.