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Re: Apostates vs. Truth

"Know this also, that in the last days grievous times will be on us.
For men will be..." (2Tm3:1-2~) ...and he goes on to list the
characteristics we see TODAY.

This was written to the young man, Timothy. It seems he may have begun
to lag in his fervor for the ministry. In this letter Paul "[reminds
him] to inflame anew the gift of God." (1:6) C'mon, Tim, get off your
duff and get back to work! Yes, you've experienced "afflictions of the
gospel" (1:8), but God's Spirit given to us is not "of fear". (1:7) God
gave you this gift; go on... use it.

The minister's duties include the training of others to carry on the
furtherance of the gospel. (2:2) To "rightly divide the Word of Truth."
(2:15) In other words, be -FAITHFUL- to God's message. And "preach the
Word..." (4:2)

And notice, many of his hearers are "those who oppose". (2:25) Sounds
like today, doesn't it. And notice Paul's desire for those who oppose:
"perhaps God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the
truth, and that they awake out of the snare of the Devil.." (2:25-26)

You know, when it boils right down to it today; forget about tongues, 
forget gold dust, forget about 'unity in diversity', forget about the 
'pre-trib' rapture; when it comes right down to the core nitty-gritty 
of what people today oppose the most, it is -repentance-. From the 
full-blown "full-gospel" charismatic, to the KJV-only fundamentalist;
the one focal-point that I am now seeing is this one little word,

The reason people don't receive the truth is because they have been
ensnared by the Devil. He began it with "Is it true that God has said?"
(Gen3:1) If you're still balking at the concept of "repentance to
salvation" (2Cor7:10) it is because you have been "taken captive" by
satan. He has snared you with all the "correct doctrine". You have been
reading the theological treatises of all the "great men" and understand
perfectly the doctrines of sanctification, justification, redemption,
propitiation, grace, faith, etc. But the devil has got you snared into
not -reaching- those doctrines in your own life, because you refuse to
humble yourself and repent. Because you -know- all those doctrines
correctly, you think you possess them. But you oppose the "key" that
unlocks the door for you to gain entrance...

And thus, you have a "form of godliness, but [don't have] the power of
it" (3:5) You may even have some of the traits Paul lists in vss 2-4.
But you lead people away into false teaching. Condone lustful behavior.
Always learning, reading, going to hear this great teacher or that
speaker, but never "[coming] to the full knowledge of the truth." (vs7)
Not only do you not -come- to the truth, when it is presented right in
your face, you "resist the truth." (vs8)

All this over that little word "repentance"? (2:25) If you've never 
humbled yourself before the Lord in that manner, He has never "[lifted]
you up." (Jas4:10) And thus, your "form of godliness" is without
"power". (2Tm3:5) You are still "proud". (Jas4:6) You want to be saved
"by grace..."? (Eph2:8) You need to be humbled. (Jas4:6)

Now, back to Timothy, and others who are faithful like Timothy: if you
find yourself around these who continually "oppose" (2:25) and are only
having a "form" of godliness without the real substance; what does Paul
tell Timothy to do about it?

"Turn away from these." (3:5b) No, don't 'unite' with them in 'love'.  
Don't 'dialogue' in order to come to a 'consensus'. He says, "you have
fully known my doctrine, manner of life, etc." (vs10) Doctrine is the
thing. Those who are divided and in offense contrary to the doctrine,
Paul exhorts, "avoid them." (Rom16:17) These people are "deceiving and
being deceived" (Rom16:18,2Tm3:13) and promote their agendas with their
slippery evil speech.

But, as anyone who has obeyed this injunction knows, persecutions WILL
follow. (3:12) In fact, Paul promises that anyone who desires to "live
godly in Christ Jesus -SHALL- suffer persecution." Yes, and as Paul 
could attest to, most of it will come from the "church". Paul's 
persecutions came from the Jews, God's "chosen". Today it comes from
the "church". Pastors, denominational leaders, etc. And this is just as 
Jesus promised it would be, as these people are deceived, they think 
they are doing "God service." (Jn16:2b)

But notice: when Paul endured persecutions, "..the Lord delivered [him]
out of all." (3:11) And what does Paul exhort Timothy to do in this 
context? Keep read-up on the writings of the "great men of God" and 
make sure to "go to church" because if you don't, you will "surely 
backslide"? Make sure you have some 'human' committee or entity to be 
"accountable" to?  No! No! No!

"But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured
of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from a babe you
have known the HOLY SCRIPTURES, which are able to make you wise to
salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (3:14-15)

So, he summarizes to Timothy: (ch4)

     1) Preach the Word vs2 Tell people when they're wrong. Encourage
        them to live Godly. Do so with patience. But most of all,
        stick to the Doctrine.

     2) They will not receive vs3  Be sure of this. Ezekiel's
        commission included the exhortation to preach God's Word, but
        also the promise that Israel would not hear, because "they
        are rebellious." (Ezk2:7) In our day they will "heap up
        teachers [the great men of god] to themselves according to
        their own lusts...they will turn away their ears from the
        truth and will be turned to myths." (vs3-4)

     3) Endure afflictions vs5  Yes, this -will- come. But don't
        dwell on it. Keep going. Your mind is not to be on your own
        problems, but "fully carry out your ministry."

     4) Crown of righteousness vs8  Don't forget, the one who
        completes the race wins a prize. Those who persevere will
        receive a reward from God. The "crown of righteousness." This
        reward is not just for the 'ministers', but for all who
        anticipate "His [glorious] appearing". (Tit2:13)

     5) Lord strengthens vs17  When things get rough, and 'rough'
        they WILL get, and it will seem like everybody has abandoned
        you, The "Lord [will] stand with you and strenghthen [you].
        After all those years of being shuffled here and there in the
        Roman justice system, according to this passage, all Paul's
        defenders abandoned him when it was time for trial. He was
        all 'alone'. When it seems you are all alone, remember God's
        words to Elijah, that there are yet "seven thousand" who have
        not "bowed to Baal". (1Kg19:18) You might not -see- them, but
        they are "fellow-servants" (Rev6:11,Col4:11,etc) They are
        likely experiencing the same things you are.

     6) Preaching continues vs17  But the 'strengthening' is not so
        that we 'feel' good. It is so "that through [us] the
        preaching might be fully known, and that all the nations
        might hear [the Gospel]" The goal is to be "[preserved] for
        His heavenly kingdom" (vs18) But, ultimately, to God is the
        "glory forever and ever. Amen"