Musings on Spiritual Matters

by Matthew Morine

Welcome To My Blog...

Matthew is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada. He has a beautiful wife named Charity. Matthew has two wonderful children, Gabrielle and Noah. He has graduated from the Brown Trail School of Preaching, Heritage Christian University with his Bachelors of Arts in Biblical Studies, Lipscomb University with his Master's of Arts in Biblical Studies and Freed-Hardeman University with his Master's of Divinity. Presently, he is working on his Doctorate of Ministry at Harding Graduate School of Religion. His articles have appeared in the World Evangelist, the Highway to Holiness, The West Virginia Christian, The Christian Echo, The Firm Foundation, Church Growth, and the Gospel Advocate.

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Most Important Skills for a Preacher

Posted By on June 24, 2014

This is an important question.  What are the most important skills for a preacher.  I would also guess that the skills change according to the congregation.  Also, the skills during one season of the congregation would change as the season changes.  The skill set of a minister in a large congregation would be different than in a smaller congregation.  So I guess right now, this is good reflection for me.  We are breaking out of a growth barrier, and the skills that helped us get there might change to skills that will help us be a larger church.  Here is my list.

The top one is discipleship.  If this goes, all goes with it.

1. Preaching.  It is still, will always be, number one.  This is the most important area of development and influence.  A friend and I are planning on going to a preacher conference to continue to work on this skill.

2. Leadership.  This is one that is important.  Helping the elders, working on the church systems, developing wise servants.

3. Writing.  This can make a huge impact, and one that continues after you are gone.

4. Conflict Management.  Yes, sadly, you will use this often.

5. Interpersonal Skills.  It is a people world we live in, and dealing with people wisely always shows dividends.

6.  Counseling.  I still do this, but it is not a major part of my ministry now.

What would you add?

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To Work “In or On” The Church

Posted By on June 23, 2014

Do you work in the church?  Or do you work on the Church.  There is a huge difference between the two.  The majority of congregations hire ministers to work in the church.  The congregation desires for the minister to visit, counsel, preach, write to help the congregation grow.  He provides services to a church.  He works in the church.  Sometimes elders work in the church.  Elders visit, oversee, and meet to provide services for the membership.  What happens is that the minister or elders become so busy working in the church that these individuals never have time to work on the church.  There is a difference.

Working on the church means creating systems that can be used to make a congregation more effective.  What is the process of leadership development?  Have we clarified the objectives so that a deacon can be successful in his area of ministry?  What is the best way to do Children’s ministry for this location?  Working on the church is creating systems that can be repeated by the average person to create a great Christian experience.  You create ways to help people grow spiritually.

Until you stop solely working in the church (of course there are times that we all work in the church), you will not be freed up to work on the church.  You will always be in this endless cycle of attempting to meet all of the needs of the people.  This can only last so long because one has limited resources.  But if you create systems, and ways for people to be cared for instead of doing this all yourself, you will create a better church with more involved members.  You change for asking what should we do, to how should we do it?  These are leadership questions that elders and ministers should be asking.

 

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Review of “How To Start a New Service”

Posted By on June 19, 2014

We are struggling at Castle Rock.  This past Sunday we were about 95% full in desirable seats.  People were coming in and were unable to find a seat.  People had to walk around looking for a place.  We had another recorded attendance for the year, and we are out of space.  Because of this, I wanted to start researching ideas to handling the growth that God has provided.  This book is about adding a second service.  It is more geared to adding a totally different style of service, and this is something that we would not be doing at Castle Rock.  We would be adding an identical service to help handle the growth.  The book is good because he helps you think through the issues.  There are the warnings of which congregations that cannot handle adding a later service.  There is the discussion of the needed critical mass to make it work.  The ramp up program is good.  This is a excellent book on the topic.  It is researched, and gives all the tools to make the process happen.  There are numerous articles on adding a early or later service, but this book is a one stop shopping experience.  His recommendation for a congregation that is as full as ours is to go to two services quickly.  I liked his answers to some of the objections, like we will not see everyone.  The reality is that these people do not anyway.  You only talk to a few people each week anyway.  This is a good book for the topic, and something we have to look at.  God gives the growth, the question is will we accept the blessing, and be faithful to God.

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Doctrine of Demons: A Study of Prohibitive Interpretation from 1 Timothy 4:1-5–Hermeneutical Application of 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Posted By on June 18, 2014

The avoidance hermeneutic has influenced much of the Restoration Movement (Harrell 175-99).  The morality of that movement was against card playing, dancing, mixed swimming, and social drinking.  All of these avoidance actions were equated with godliness.  One could have seen the false teachers in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 arguing for the avoidance of food and marriage on moral grounds.  It would have certainly been safer to avoid marriage and meats.  But Paul does not advocate a withdrawal mindset.  Of course, there are extra elements to Paul’s dislike of the false teachers, but based on doctrine alone, these false teachers are binding laws on God’s people.  Paul considers these actions to be placing the false teachers outside of the fellowship of God.  To bind rules on God’s people is to deny the one faith of Jude 3.  The false teachers are destroying the body of Christ through binding where God has not bound.  All the charges that are levied against those who loose where God has not loosed should also be directed towards those who create laws where God has not spoken.

Congregations or preachers that make rules limiting the freedom of Christians are acting in the same spirit as these false teachers.  Where maxims of morality speak louder than Biblical morality, an avoidance mindset of Christianity is practiced.  Instead of enjoying God’s creation, Christians are forced to suffer the ever increasing moral judgment of other incorrect interpreters.  Broyles states, “The combination of Biblical maxims lifted from their contexts leads to more and more eccentric interpretations of scripture’s intent” (150-51).  Soon culture influences what morality is or is not.  Because of the desire to remain culturally pure in a perverse society, there will always be the temptation to be polemic toward morality.  Instead of seeking temperance, morality becomes a simple “black or white” affair.  Those who are truly spiritual will avoid these actions, and those who are of the world will engage in these behaviors.  The false teachers of 1 Timothy 4:1-5 were promoting this ultra-spiritual living by binding these practices on Christians.  If one was to be truly holy, he or she must avoid eating certain meats and marrying.

To Paul, the “safer approach” is not always the better approach.  Hermeneutics must be grounded in proper exegesis of the text.  After the text is studied, one in doubt must not automatically jump to the safer conclusion or practice.  Being safer is not always being saved.  But within the movement, where no action is typically acceptable, this pulls one back to the need to practice godliness with positive actions.  Morality is not avoiding the all questionable practices, but practicing the right actions.  The “no action” response is not always the correct action to take.

Conclusion

It is easy to see false teachers as the ones questioning the traditions from the past, but it becomes more difficult to discover the false teachers in the corner teaching Christians to be safe by doing nothing for the Lord.  Paul in his ethics is not of an avoidance mindset.  He is for enjoying the fruits of creation.  But when false teachers enter the church binding man-made laws on God’s people, Paul feels the need to warn Timothy of the coming danger.  These false teachers are pictured as insidious leaders from within the church.  They are creating laws and binding them on God’s people.  They consider marriage and the eating of meat to be unacceptable to the truly spiritual.  But Paul disputes their legalistic ways by showing that God has created all things to be enjoyed by the mature Christian.     

Bibliography

Adams, William W. “Exposition of 1 and 2 Timothy.” Review & Expositor 56 (1959): 367-87.

Barclay, William B. 1 & 2 Timothy.New York: Evangelical, 2005.

Baugh, S. M. 1 and 2 Timothy.Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

Broyles, Stephen E. “James Sanford Lamar and the Substructure of Biblical Interpretation in the Restoration Movement.” Restoration Quarterly 29 (1987): 143-151.

Campbell, Barth Lynn. “Rhetorical Design in 1 Timothy 4.” Bibliotheca Sacra 154 (1997): 189-204.

Carus, Paul. The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil.La Salle:Open Court, 1974.

Fee, Gordon D. “Reflections on Church Order in the Pastoral Epistles, with Further Reflection on the Hermeneutics of Ad Hoc Documents.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 28 (1985) 141-151.

Fee, Gordon D and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993

Foster, Douglas A. Will the Cycle be Unbroken: Churches of Christ Face the 21st Century.Abilene: ACU, 1994.

Garrett, Leroy, The Stone-Campbell Movement: The Story of the American Restoration Movement.Joplin: College, 1997.

Goulder, Micheal Douglas. “The Pastor’s Wolves : Jewish Christian Visionaries behind the Pastoral Epistles.” Novum testamentum 38 (1996): 242-256.

Grieb, A. Katherine. “The One Who Called You…: Vocation and Leadership in the Pauline Literature.” Interpretation 59 (2005): 154-65.

Harrell, David Edwin. Quest for a Christian America, 1800-1865.Tuscaloosa:University ofAlabama, 2003.

Hester, David W. Tampering with Truth: The New Left in the Lord’s Church.Huntsville: Publishing, 2007.

Hiebert, D. Edmond. “Pauline Images of a Christian Leader.” Bibliotheca sacra 133 (1976): 213-28.

Holloway, Gary, and Douglas A. Foster. Renewing God’s People: A Concise History of Churches of Christ.Abilene: ACU, 2001.

Hughes, Richard T. Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America.Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. Letters to Paul’s Delegates.Harrisburg: Trinity, 1996.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary of the New Testament. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity, 1993.

Knight, George W. The Pastoral Epistles.Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.

Lane, William L. “1 Tim. 4:1-3: An Early Instance of Over-Realized Eschatology?” New Testament Studies 11 (1965): 164-67.

Liefeld, Walter L. 1 & 2 Timothy/Titus.Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.

MacArthur, John. 1 Timothy.Chicago: Moody, 1995.

Moss, Michael C. 1, 2 Timothy & Titus.Joplin: College Press, 1994.

Mounce, William D. Pastoral Epistles.Nashville: Nelson, 2000.

Osborne, Grant R. The Hermeneutical Spiral. Downer’s Grove: IVP, 2006.

Spain, Carl. The Letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus.Austin: R.B. Sweet, 1970.

Towner, Philip H. The Letters to Timothy and Titus.Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

Williams, Joel Stephen. “The Ministry and Scholarship.” Restoration Quarterly 36 (1994): 173-181.

 

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Doctrine of Demons: A Study of Prohibitive Interpretation from 1 Timothy 4:1-5–Part 3

Posted By on June 5, 2014

Counteractions to Apostasy

In verse 3c, Paul begins to argue for the acceptances of these foods and for marriage.  The false teachers were presenting these avoidance behaviors as “holier” than average.  Paul did not advocate placing extra burdens on God’s people.  Anyone that places restrictions on God’s people that Jesus does not require falls into this same error as the false teachers in this text.  These false teachers were adding commands that Paul did not endorse.  Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, “Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I” was not presenting marriage as an unspiritual state.  Also, 1 Corinthians 7:26-27: “I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife,” This was not given to lower the view of marriage, but rather to appeal to those Corinthians to remain as they were at their conversion.  In fact, later on in the book, Paul urges younger widows to remarry.

But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. And at the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan (1 Tim. 5:11-15).

It does not seem that Paul considered those who were married to be of a lower status in God’s eyes than those who refrained from marriage.  This is not to say that Jesus did speak favorably of celibacy in Matthew 19:12, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”  Probably, Jesus is not giving a formal spiritual principle to the unmarried, but rather is highlighting the fact that those who marry have added concerns.  Instead of being completely focused on providing ministry to others, those who are married must deal with family concerns.

Paul continues to address another restriction that these false teachers are advocating in the text.  Verse 3 explains: “and advocate abstaining from foods.”  The term “food” is a general term for all foods, and there is a connection to Romans 14:21, where the term “food” in the original language is replaced with the word for meat (Knight 190).  Arichea and Hatton mention that the term “food” means “solid foods,” like meat in contrast to liquid food, such as milk.  This is may be why  the King James Version translated the work “food” as “meat” (91).  It is difficult to understand the background behind the false teachers’ reasoning for ordering people to refrain from food (Towner 292).  One does know that throughout the Biblical text, the issue of idol meat is prevalent.  In Romans 14 to 15:13, there are some who are struggling with the issue of eating or avoiding idol meat.  Romans 14:2-3 states, “One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.”  In addition to these Christians inRome, the Christians inCorinthalso debated the practice of eating idol meat (1 Cor. 8-10).  Paul states clearly that eating or not eating certain food in and of itself will neither commend nor condemn a person before God.  Paul says, “But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.  But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor. 8:8-9).  The issue of eating idol meat or meat in general seems to be spread throughout the New Testament world.  One is not sure if these false teachers are from a Jewish background or from a pagan background; if Jewish, the association with idols would be extremely abhorrent, and if from a pagan background, the intensity of rejection of paganism led to complete avoidance of idols or meat in general.  Whatever is going on in the text, Paul is upset because these false teachers are binding laws on Christians that were never commanded.  The false teachers are creating an avoidance mindset in Christianity.

Paul counters these legalistic teachings by appealing to the purposes of God.  God is not against marriage or certain foods.  In verses 3-5, Paul provides his argumentation on the freedom to eat certain foods.  In verses 3 and 4, Paul mentions the phrase “God created.”  Paul is appealing to the “creation-theological basis that allows freedom in the use of foods” (Towner 297).  The false teachers are rejecting God’s estimation of His own work, which is declared in Genesis 1:31.  “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”  The false teachers are trying to turn that which is said to be good by God into something that is wicked.  Those who are the true believers thankfully share in the privilege of enjoying God’s creation.  The dative of advantage is used to connote that the true Christians, in contrast to the false teachers, know that certain foods are to be enjoyed because they have been created by God (Towner 297).  Food is to be partaken of because it is approved by the word of God, which is a reference to Genesis 1 where God declared the creation good, and by prayer, which refers to the thankfulness of the true believer when indulging in the food.  Christians do not find their ethics in avoidance of God’s creation; instead, Christians are truly blessed in experiencing and engaging in all that God has made on man’s behalf.

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Doctrine of Demons: A Study of Prohibitive Interpretation from 1 Timothy 4:1-5–Part 2

Posted By on June 3, 2014

The Details of the Apostasy

Verse 2 describes the character of the false teachers (Johnson 159).  These human agents of demonic digression are said to be hypocritical liars who have seared consciences.  These agents of Satan are not teachers that are mistakenly honest in their doctrine.  Inside their minds, they know that their teaching is incorrect (Mounce 236).  In fact, Paul implies in 2 Timothy 3:6 that the false teachers are sexually promiscuous.  “For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses.”  The false teachers are forbidding marriage, but are still practicing fornication with weak minded women (Mounce 239).  These false teachers are placing burdens on Christians even the false teachers know that God does not require.  For Paul there is a difference between a false teacher who is teaching according to a sincere error and a false teacher that teaches with better knowledge.  These false teachers inEphesusare perpetuating error while knowing that God does allow marriage and the partaking of certain foods.

These teachers practice these sinful actions because their consciences have been seared with a branding iron.  This image was particularly clear in first century culture because human branding took place then.  Someone could be branded for starting a riot in the city, or runaway slaves who were recaptured would sometimes receive a brand on his or her forehead (Baugh 463).  There are two possible images that may be presented.  The first idea Paul could have had in mind was that those false teachers have corrupted their conscience to such a level that they no longer feel the guilt from teaching error any longer.  This can certainly be the case with persistent habit.  But more than likely Paul is connoting that these false teachers have been branded by Satan, which indicates that they belong to him (Moss 84).  Satan is the true master of these false teachers.  It seems from the text that Paul does not see these false teachers as innocent men.  He pictures them as agents of the Devil who have been corrupted by the forces of evil.

In verse 3, the manifestations of the Satanic force causes these false teachers to forbid people to marry and to forbid the partaking of certain foods.  There is a sense of asceticism within theEphesuscongregation.  This asceticism is not a modern view of avoiding certain foods or behaviors to grow closer to God.  There was a sense that these behaviors were required to be pleasing to the Lord.  But where did these false views come from?  Lane sees the error deriving from a misunderstanding of the resurrection.  Paul had already mentioned in verse 1:18 that two men were in error for teaching that the resurrection had already passed.  If this was believed by some, then Jesus’ instructions that in heaven there will be no marriage or giving in marriage would be not applicable on earth (Matt. 22:33).  Also, the forbidding of the meats could be tied to Jesus eating of the fish in John 21.  Also, Paul mentioned that theKingdomofGodis not meat and drink (Rom. 14:17).  Lane believes the cause of the error is a misunderstanding of the resurrection (165-66).  Towner proposes that the opponents of Paul might have been attempting to enact a model based on Genesis 2-3, since some believed in the realization of the resurrection (104-5).  But this issue is not so easily explained, according to Mounce.  In his commentary, he provides cases for the error to be rooted in Jewish teachings, Proto-Gnostic teachings, and Hellenistic teachings (lxix-ixxi).  Without going into significant detail, Moss explains the possible background to this error.  He states, “the heresy probably arose as a syncretistic effort on the part of Jewish Christians to proclaim the gospel that would hold on to their Jewish upbringing and at the same time continue to speak in terms to the pagan culture in which they lived” (85).  Instead of breaking down each element of the error, there was probably a blending and a mixing of religious and philosophical teachings.  Something similar to this is in Colossians 2:16-23:

Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)– in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

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Hiking Season

Posted By on June 2, 2014

Hiking season has started, kind of.  I mean by that that I have already hiked a 14er for the year.  It was with Martin and my nephew who was visiting with us for a while.  It was his first 14er.  Martin had to hike it for his 58, and it was a repeat for me.  We were going to hike Snowmass, but there was so much snow still up in the mountains that we could not make it to the trailhead.  So we went with plan b.  This year I am hoping to hike 7 more peaks.  There are 58 14ers in Colorado, and I have hiked 51 of them.  It would be a great feeling to complete them all this summer.  It can happen, but it is becoming harder.  Most years I hike about 10 peaks, so this is doable.  I have some really hard ones left.  I am excited and nervous at the same time.  Hopefully, by the fall, this 6 year journey will be completed, and there will be a celebration.  A lot of man hours, money, and traveling has gone into this project.  It will feel good.

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Review of “Shattering the Illusion”

Posted By on May 26, 2014

I have always loved Restoration History.  I love the stories of the past.  I love hearing about the famous preachers and teachers, and famous donors who helped build the church for this present generation.  Often these stories are filled with sacrifice, dedication, and love, but with all history, there are some sad moments.  Everyone has weaknesses, and even movements can fall into traps.  We are all human.  In this book, it highlights the humanness of the restoration movement.  It talks about the issue of racism within the churches of Christ.  Of course, much of the influence of churches of Christ are in the south, and one does not have to search far to know that racism was a major component of that area of the country.  Sadly, the majority of all the religious movements during that time fall into this trap.  The churches of Christ struggled with this too.  In this book, it talks about the various approaches that was taken.  The famous Marshall Keeble, he was willing to go along with the segregation for the greater good of the kingdom, in the sense that he raised a lot of money, and spread his influence through the white brethren, while there was R.N. Hogan, who would not stand for it.  One of the major stories was the closing of the Nashville Bible School, and the lawsuit that developed.  The famous Fred Grey had a part in that.  He was the lawyer who represented Rose Parks.  This book is excellent, and I am sure people who disagree in areas, mostly because of the various experiences church members had.  But there has been some serious tension between whites and blacks in the church.  If you love restoration history, and do not mind some scars of the movement, this is an excellent book.  It is well written, and the story is told well.

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Doctrine of Demons: A Study of Prohibitive Interpretation from 1 Timothy 4:1-5–Part 1

Posted By on May 15, 2014

Within the history of the churches of Christ there seems to be liberality toward those who are more conservative in perspective than those who are more progressive in perspective.  This is highlighted in the common statement from preachers toward some “anti-intuitional” members within the fellowship.  It has been heard that these members will bind laws upon members of the church, but they are still considered to be in fellowship within the body of Christ.  One must be careful in extending fellowship toward those who are more conservative rather than to those who are more progressive because Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 denounces false teachers for binding where God has not bound.  This leniency toward conservative interpretations has caused the church to move in a conservative direction.  The “because it is safer approach” has been applied to hermeneutics throughout the decades within the Stone-Campbell movement.  But 1 Timothy 4:1-5 helps to balance the emphasis from a conservative bent to a balanced mindset toward scripture.

Exegesis of 1 Timothy 4:1-5

1 Timothy 4:1-5 will be briefly examined to understand the full force of Paul’s advice to Timothy concerning being a godly minister.  1 Timothy 4:1-5 reads:

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

Paul highlights three aspects in these verses.  He predicts apostasy, then gives the details of apostasy, and finally proceeds to give the counteractions to apostasy.  So to understand Paul’s advice to Timothy concerning the godliness of a minister, one must realize the false forms of godliness that some will be advocating in the future.

The Predicted Prophecy

In verse 1, Paul predicts through the Spirit that there will be an apostasy in the church.  Paul already mentioned the appearance of false teachers to Timothy.  He says:

As I urged you upon my departure forMacedonia, remain on atEphesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions (1 Tim. 1:3-7).

Paul is definitely claiming that this prediction is coming from the Spirit and not from his own mind.  The wording “the Spirit” has parallels to the wording in Revelation.  Revelation 2:7 expresses the same idea: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”  Also, Revelation 3:6: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Paul uses the present tense levgei, which means that Paul considers the teaching from the Spirit to be ever active in authority to the churches; even though the warnings of apostasy were given in the past, the present warning is still applicable.  Paul is following the instructions of Christ, who warned of a falling away during his public ministry.  Jesus said in Matthew 24:10-11, “And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.”  These instructions, which originated with Christ, were repeated by the Spirit on other occasions.  Acts 20:28-31 confirms this present warning in the churches:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd thechurchofGodwhich He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 also seems to parallel the Spirit’s warning of 1 Timothy 4:1-5:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.

There is little doubt that Paul expected and anticipated an apostasy in the later days.  Jesus had warned of a falling away during his days on earth, and Paul continues to sound the warning to the churches that he influences.

Paul takes this warning seriously because it is a “falling away from the faith.”  There are some that deny that a Christian can lose his salvation, but, on the other hand, Paul adamantly believes that one can “fall away from the faith” (MacArthur 147).  MacArthur contends that this “falling away” is only applied to false disciples but believes that the true disciple cannot apostatizes from the faith.  He mentions that some people will come incredibly close to the truth of the faith but will fall away (147).  This view seems different from Paul’s estimation of the situation.  Paul uses the term ajfivsthmi to mean “a falling away from God.”  This word connotes “the serious situation of becoming separated from the living God after a previous turning towards him, by falling away from the faith” (Knight 188).  Paul uses the “faith” with the same nuance as in 1 Timothy 1:18-20:

This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

The people in Paul’s mind that will fall away are the same in character as Hymenaeus and Alexander.  These were two men that perhaps were traveling along faith’s journey but were shipwrecked.  In a sense, these future apostates will fall away from the faith in a subjective and objective sense.  First, the individual will fall away from a subjective relationship with Christ, which will cause them to fall away from an objective faith in Christ (Knight 188).  This means that people will reject the truth of “the faith” as used in Jude 3.  “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”  For Paul, it seems that doctrines as well as relationships are important in maintaining fellowship with Christ.

Paul indicates the time frame for this apostasy.  Paul mentions in verse 1 that “in the last days” will be the time of apostasy.  There is some debate concerning the general timing of this apostasy.  Barcley states that the last days have already arrived.  He points out that the Messiah has come, the Spirit has been poured out, and the church is established.  He attaches this reference to the “last days” to Acts 2:17-21 (128), whileSpainnotes that the “last days” reference is not the same as that used by Peter in Acts 2:17. Spainmentions “that ‘later’ is used in a comparative sense, it simply means ‘at some time in the future from the time of the prophetic utterance’” (73).  Two options appear, in which one states that “later times” means “during the Christian disposition,” and the other option is “later times” means “some time after the writing of this warning.”  According to Towner, the phrase “later times” is parallel to 2 Timothy 3:1: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.”  These verses provide some light on the original intent of Paul.  In 1 Timothy 4:1 and in 2 Timothy 3:1, there is the initial future tense “some will fall away; difficult times will come.”  But then Paul begins to detail the characteristics of the falling away (288-98).  With the dual uses of future and present tense within the text, there is certainly an element of a futuristic prophecy.  Paul saw that this “falling away” will happen at a later time, but he also saw the present reality of the apostasy.  But the time frame for the apostasy that Paul has in mind is not a 2000-year-old prediction.  Paul sees the “falling away” as happening soon in the first century.  The future tense is used for emphatic expression (Knight 189).  He is seeking to gain attention with the strong future promise but sees the coming falling away as a present-day reality.  This is why Timothy must point out these teachings to the church (1 Tim. 4:6).

The source of the false teaching is “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”  Paul sees the demonic powers behind the apostasy (Moss 84).  He hinted at demonic forces earlier in 1 Timothy 3:6-7, “and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.  And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

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Information Overload

Posted By on May 14, 2014

You watched the news, maybe read the paper, and received a magazine in the mail.  The information you had was researched at the library.  You had to go find it.  Now information is at your fingertips.  All you have to do is search on your smart phone.  You do not have to even write something, just ask it a question, and it finds the information for you.  I am sure everyone is growing tired of too much information.  It is every where, and everyone is trying to get their message out.  It is a crowded world.  This applies to Christianity.  There are those who fight against this message, and seem to be winning.  This applies to preachers trying to influence the flock.  I write a weekly bulletin article, I have a blog, I use social media, I preach, I am in the “get information out business.”  So how to be noticed in this world, this is the great question, and there are people who are paid a ton of money to make this happen.  So what to do.

Stop.  If you think just getting information out there is going to work, it will not.  We have so much information that if you bombard me with it, I will tune you out.  If you annoy me on social media with your pitch, I will go against it just because.  More does not increase your success.

Quality.  There are only a few blogs that I read.  I like a few of them.  The majority of blogs, are a complete waste of my time.  And typically, I wait for someone use to think it is good because I read it.  You have to share it on social media before I read it.  The sad reality is, I feel my blog is in the “do not read group.”  There are some posts that are good, and some that are terrible.  I like my book reviews, and some of the stuff I do.  But my best stuff, I like to write for the journals in the brotherhood.

Be Wise.  Use the social media to connect, not convert.  I have no desire to argue with people over the internet.  I have much better things to do.  But I enjoy using it to connect to people.  It is a way to maintain friends, not try to teach them.

Control Yourself.  I find myself reading too many pointless articles, and not deep books these days.  An article typically makes little difference in my life, but I need well treated books to think through issues.  Do not trade the shallow for the deep.

Hope this helps, and this could be overload too.

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